Some time, around five years ago, when my husband and I have decided to take up the journey around the world, I hoped it will spice up my understanding of the planet and self. Little did I know in practice, how that might change my inner map, mess up with destinations, reshuffle the priorities, when finally, out of that creative chaos, I was able to sculpt a new vision of what is it that I want to do with my life. People often, me included, travel further away to stay closer to the beautiful landscapes to become mesmerised and stay in awe.
They often travel, me included, to discover exotic elements of our human existence only to find how exotic and fascinating they are. And almost as a side effect, they get another experience, that is unlikely ever to be unlearned – change of that inner landscape, where priorities, that bore a lot of sense earlier, now loose its importance, and some other questions, powerful and not necessarily comfortable, inhabit their minds.
One of them may be of the vital significance. And that is: what matters most? What’s the most important in my short-lived existence? What would I like to do with what I’m given in my life – my strengths and gifts, and what changes do I want to make to work with the circumstances that I’m surrounded.
Little time we have to ponder about the questions like that. When I facilitate the groups for people, and talk about importance of looking after themselves, we often need to negotiate the smallest possible amount of time they can spare in their daily routine to allow themselves to meditate, stretch, or wonder. Because many other things matter. Even though to dedicate some mental down-time, to stretch, to stay in silence is vital to stay psychologically intact and productive.
So people have to negotiate/argue/cheat themselves into the activities which eventually would help them to feel better. Even sadder, but time to reflect about what matters most is their internal universe is even scarcer. We hop, we skip, we jog through life, we climb our ladders with persistence and endless efforts, sometimes only to find out, as leadership authority Stephen Covey1 says, that the ladder has been put against the wrong wall.
That climb was hard, to finally realise how it was against our inner values and deepest beliefs. And the cognitive dissonance, that feeling of two opposing truths in our heads, becomes even unkinder, but we need to silence it, and just we keep on going. Sometimes it becomes so unbearable, and then people finally end up seeking desperately for help. When in truth, if they only dedicated some time before the important decisions were taken, if they stayed congruent with their inner values and beliefs, it would have been easier to follow the path.
Covey, S. (1999) ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’, Simon and Shuster. ↩