|Posted on July 24, 2015 at 12:05 AM|
7/23/15: I've been thiking a lot about direction lately and how we lose our way sometimes. My husband, Jeff, has told me stories about a professor he had in college who was always challenging his students to "Find your north, find your north". Whenever we are hiking, running, sailing, engaging in any outdoor activity Jeff gives me the oft repeated directive, "Come on Katy, find your north". All too often my response to him is , "why?". Well I have been thinking a lot about the "why" recently, due in part to a client who has lost her way, and herself, somewhere, somehow, along the way. She has been trying to find her "true north".
Now it has always been a curiosity to me that Jeff, who is ridiculously good at finding his north and his way out in the wild, always manages to get completely twisted around and lost when in a city. I have been trying to figure out why this is, which led me to think about why my client has lost her north, which led me to think about why any of us loses our way. And the answer that keeps appearing before me is "noise". It seems that noise, all kinds of noise, distracts us and pushes us off course. We are bombarded with physical noise that hits our ears and our brains. We have all too little quiet time in our busy, noisy worlds. We are constantly flooded with data from news, emails, facebook, twitter, snapchate, instragram. We hear politicians fighting, talking heads disagreeing, media telling us how to think, feel and believe. We are so often on overload. In the city Jeff hears, sees, smells, and feels too much all at once. It causes him to become disoriented and lose his way. In life we have so many responsibilities and so much coming at us that we also lose touch with ourselves, with who we are, with where we are going and where we want to be. In the city Jeff sees nothing but tall buildings, signs, pavement. Nothing that looks familiar to his sense of direction. He cannot always see the sun, the moon the stars, the things that he uses to orient himself. When life gets busy we may also lose our familiar guideposts; we may lose touch with the friends and family that keep us grounded; we may forget to give ourselves some quiet time; we may forget that our beliefs, values, needs, and opinions matter; we may stay in unhealthy relationships or in jobs that are too stressful; we may let others violate our boundaries; we forgot who we are and where we are going. There is so much to do and so little time and so we try to do it all, and in doing so we may get lost.
So now what? We know that we lose our way sometimes. What can we do about it? Life is busy and we are just trying to keep up, right? I will do it later when I have more time.... Is it really important to find our north? I believe the answer is yes, if the goal for life is to be healthy, happy, and fulfilled. The way to start to find your north is by identifying your own beliefs, not the beliefs of the person next to you. Start by asking yourself' "what are my shoulds?" As in what should I do, what should he not do? Our "shoulds" are the keys to our beliefs. When we know our beliefs we know ourselves better. The next step is to then determine whether our actions are in line with our beliefs. When we are doing things that go against our core beliefs the result will be worry, guilt, anxiety and depression. Violating our core beliefs will push us off course and lead us to lose our way. The next step is to give yourself quiet time to think, learn to be still, and learn to be comfortable alone. And learn to stay in this moment and not worry ahead. This will help keep us grounded and will give us the time we need to assess where we are and where we want to be. If we just took a few moments each day to do this systems check on ourselves we would then be able to identify issues before we go completely off course. And as part of that systems check don't forget to be grateful and to remember that you have strengths and assets you can use when the seas are rough and when the course is not clear.