This new normal we're getting used to is pretty strange isn't it? I've heard the word surreal used a lot lately as many of us get to grips with lockdown in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It goes some way to explaining the bewildered looks on people's faces as they wander around supermarkets considering this new reality where shelves are suddenly empty, at least here in the UK. And as we all wake up to a world where nothing feels the same, but outside the sun is still shining and the birds keep on singing as if nothing has changed, surreal just about covers it.

So how do we adapt to these changes, however temporary, and how do we navigate our way back to feeling normal when everything around us feels anything but?

Accept discomfort - it will pass

The first step is to accept that it is entirely natural and normal to feel uncomfortable emotions right now. It is also okay and normal not to like any of what is going on. Yes, it is good to be positive, to remain upbeat and try to find the silver lining in the face of what feels scary, but that comes later.

In order to remain positive, we must accept all those uncomfortable and darker feelings first. Sweeping negative emotions under the carpet does not make them go away.

"What we resist, persists" - Carl Jung

What we resist, persists. Carl Jung explained. The easiest way to deal with a negative emotion is to look it squarely in the face and call it by its name.

EXERCISE ONE: Today, I feel....?
Grab a pen and a piece of paper and list everything you are feeling right now, in this moment. Where does it sit in your body?  Get in touch with what the feeling is? Is it covering another deeper emotion? Sit quietly with this feeling and accept that it doesn't feel good - you can't will it away, you can't fight it, you can only accept it.

  • Tell yourself, everyone feels sad/frustrated/angry sometimes, everyone hurts.
  • Tell yourself, it is okay to feel bad.
  • Remind yourself that feeling negative emotions will allow them to pass more quickly and easily. Noticing them makes them smaller.
  • Tell yourself it will pass.

What is keeping you stuck?

In a crisis, our refusal to give up expectations of how things should be prevents us from experiencing how things could be.

One of the rules of the mind is that our minds like the familiar.  When change is forced on us before we are ready, the natural human response is to resist. First there is shock, then denial, then anger. It is a grieving process all of its own, grieving for an old way of living and an old way of doing.

What keeps us stuck is trying to hold on to the old ways   - our old normal -  when all around us has changed so dramatically that what used to work no longer does. 

The best way to look at it is to consider normal as just an old set of habits we now need to grow out of. Our minds love what's familiar and are destabilised by the unfamiliar. If you've ever given up sugar in your coffee you'll know how it takes some time to get used to the new taste. But once you're used to it, if someone accidentally puts sugar in your .coffee it tastes disgusting - you wonder how you could have ever drunk it that way.

In order to cope with the new normal during the coronavirus pandemic and quickly, it's about making the "unfamiliar familiar and the familiar unfamiliar".

The quickest way to do this is to create a new structure to your day as soon as possible.

EXERCISE TWO: A new daily routine
Write down all the things you used to do every day and every week before the current crisis. What did your day look like? Why was it structured that way? For ease, efficiency, comfort, enjoyment?

Now look at what your day looks like in the current crisis. What has changed? Ask yourself what changes are you finding difficult and what are you resisting? See if you can work out why - and then get to the bottom of the feeling, and as in Exercise One, fully experience the feeling and let it pass.

The new normal

In creating a new normal, look for the opportunity. As coach David Hollis writes: In the rush to return to normal. take the time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.

"In the rush to return to normal. take the time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to" - David Hollis

A case in point, having fewer items on the supermarket shelves made me buy different products I might never have tried before and most of them were cheaper, and the family even liked them (which was quite a miracle in itself!). So, because of the current lockdown, because there was panic buying, because there were fewer products on the shelves, I tried something new and saved money. It's a simplistic example I know, but it's a small thing that made me see the current crisis in a new way.

Not everything about our lives pre-Coronavirus worked well, Now is the time to stop and reflect and choose a better way of living once we are out of this crisis, which of course one day we will be.

EXERCISE THREE: Life after the crisis
On your piece of paper write:  once  this crisis is over...

  • This is what I want to change:
  • This is what I want to keep:
  • This is what I want to try:
  • This is what I want to do:
  • This is how I want to be:

Adapting to change is never easy, even at the best of times. Coping with the new normal is a challenge. In the current crisis, everyone is struggling in some way, big or small. Recent research reveals that self-compassion is key to handling difficult times in life. Knowing that we all hurt, all feel pain, all struggle, all fail, is about making us more aware of our vulnerabilities, and that's what makes us human.  That's what makes us compassionate.

We don't have to achieve great things. We don't have to put a brave face on hard times  or be cheerful all the time - those things come all on their own when first we recognise that times are tough, but they will pass.

The following is a transcript from Dawn's talk: How to Change Your Life, at Wellness Wednesday, Tunbridge Wells, on 12th February 2020

Hello, I'm Dawn Quest. I'm a Rapid Transformational Therapist and coach, primarily working with female clients to help transform their lives through change in all aspects of their lives - career, relationships, family, confidence and self esteem and weight loss and body image among others.

Just to give you a little information about Rapid Transformational Therapy. It's a very powerful form of hypnotherapy that can help get rid of any subconscious blocks that are standing in the way of my clients' success and happiness.  Time and again I've seen RTT transform my clients' lives in very impactful positive ways. So if you have any questions about RTT do come up and have a chat after my talk.

 I'm here tonight to talk about How to Change Your Life.

And I'm assuming, hopefully not wrongly, because you are all sitting here it's because in some way there may be some aspect of your life, big or small, that you want to change or maybe you are ready to take a big step, that big leap of faith and make a major life change - but somehow it feels daunting and overwhelming and frankly downright terrifying - and that is quite understandable.

In the next 15 minutes, I hope to be able to inspire and motivate you to make any changes in your life that you've been considering, maybe for a while now, big or small,  and give you some key practical tips to get you started on the path to changing your life for the better.

Maybe you're stuck in a job that at the very least doesn't fulfil you but at the extreme end is causing you stress, anxiety and emotional issues. Maybe you're unhappy in your relationship or relationships and you are trying to make a decision about whether to stay or go. Maybe you feel unhappy with the way you look or feel about your body - maybe you want to get fitter and healthier.  Or maybe - and this is true for a lot of people - you don't know what you really really want - but you know you're unhappy, you feel unfulfilled and lacking in purpose, and that there has to be  something better for you out there than what you have already.

Whatever the change may be...  I am going to talk about what needs to happen first before we can successfully change our lives.  Why it's important to understand exactly what is holding you back from making a change  - and that could be practical reasons, emotional reasons or most commonly, FEAR. And what to expect when you start making changes in your life - and that can mean self-sabotage but also sabotage from others. 

And, I'm going to outline some key steps to get you on the path to making the changes you most want to make that help you feel good about yourself and your life.

The very first change that needs to happen, before you can make any other change or changes in your life, is in your mind. And that means every negative belief, feeling and thought that is keeping you stuck in your current situation needs to be removed, eliminated and replaced with something much more positive, attractive and more powerful. 

People make the most dramatic changes in their lives when they suddenly have a wake-up moment where they realise:  "That's it, I can't take any more, things have got to change. I have got to change now."

In that split second they know that life has to change and they can't go back to being the old them, in their old life - their minds have suddenly had an upgrade, if you like - just like a phone - and switched to a better more efficient operating system.

Maybe you've even experienced it. Perhaps you know you have been eating badly but it only hits you when you're in a shop and you try on a pair of jeans and you have to go up a size. You think: "Crikey. I need to lay off those Mars bars I've been having every day for the past three months."  Maybe that one glass of wine after work to destress has turned into two, maybe three.. and you wake up one morning and you have a hangover and you say to yourself "never again". Or you've had to work overtime once again and you've missed your child's birthday party and the look on their face when you get home is just too much to bear. We all have that moment that is unique and personal to us - it's a breaking point moment.

But, while change happens in a second, what comes before that moment, may be days, weeks months, sometimes years of deliberating; of hoping, wishing, wanting things to be better, for things to change.

In other words, there's a whole lot of "putting up with" we do before we reach our breaking point. We justify the things we are unhappy about in our lives. We're not unreasonable people - we want to help, to be cooperative , we don't want to rock the boat, we want to be liked. Or that classic - what will people think? So we put up with things.

Until, for some of us, the day comes that we don't. And that day is when the discomfort and perhaps fear of change is far less than the discomfort and pain of our current situation.

And that's the secret to change:  you need to be able to tell yourself that if the worst happened, your life would still be better off by making that change  than what you are currently experiencing.

So, let's say you've got to the point where you know things have to change and you're ready to take action. What then?

So point two:

My question to you is: what has held you back in the past and what is holding you back now from making the change you most want to make?

What usually happens in the lead up to wanting to change our lives, or in the very moment that we make that decision, is our old primitive survival mechanisms kick in and we may start to hear that voice in our head and it's usually saying something negative, like: What if it all goes wrong? What if you fail (again) You'll never change. You tried before, you can't change." And so on. Our minds can come up with many logical and rational reasons for staying where we are and maintaining the status quo.

The trick is to be able to determine whether what is holding you back is real or imagined. And by imagined I mean FEAR. A real and practical reason for not wanting to change jobs may be that you know this year you're going to have some major household bills, so the timing isn't right. But you can work with that. An imagined reason is, something like, "well, no one is going to want to hire me, I'm too old, I'm too qualified. There are no jobs in my industry right now. Best to stay where I am." Those, for the most part, are fear dressed up as reason.

Now fear is a very basic emotion and it's designed to protect us. That's its one and only job. Back when we were cavemen and women, fear kept us alert and prevented us from being eaten by dinosaurs. Fear meant the survival of the species.

These days of course, we have very different dinosaurs to fear. But in most situations in everyday life, the feeling of fear is triggered by an ancient need to survive - far beyond what is real and necessary. In other words, fear may keep us safe, but it also keeps us stuck - and sometimes stuck in the most awful, miserable situations .

So, maybe you are thinking about setting up your own business, but your fear is, "I'll fail, I'll be declared bankrupt, lose my home, lose my family. I'll be that  person everyone crosses the road to avoid speaking to out of embarrassment."

Maybe you want to give a talk at a local PTA event on a Wednesday evening, and you're worried that you'll be overcome by nerves or make a huge fool of yourself - or that no one turns up.

How I coach my clients through fear is with this basic exercise: I ask them to think about their worst case scenario - maybe write it down and really go to town on the gory details: the public humiliation the financial ruin, losing friends or alienating loved ones...

And then I ask: what would you do if the worst case scenario happened? And again I get them to describe exactly how they would respond in this situation.

And in every case, my client reels off a list of actions they would take if they ever found themselves in that worst case scenario. And what they realise by listening to themselves speak out loud is that if the worst case scenario happened - they would cope,, they would find a way out of it. And you will too. We are all more capable and resilient than we think.

Another benefit to thinking about worst case scenarios is by rehearsing them ahead of time, the reality never ever pans out as bad. It just never does.

So, examine your fears. Ask if they are real. Ask yourself, if this fear came true how would I handle it and come up with some logical, practical ways you would cope. And then move on.

So, now you're ready to make the change, you've addressed your fears.. and now I am going to point three and give you a warning and it's this: Don't expect everyone to be happy for you.

And that my come as a shock. You may be excited about all of the positive ways you are changing your life and some people will be very supportive. And some people won't. And it may surprise you who isn't supportive. It may be those who are closest to you.

Because while you may have addressed your own fears about the changes you most want to make, you'll be coming up against other people's fears about how you will change. And guess what, their fears aren't real either.

For example, if you decide to lose weight and you start sticking to a healthy meal plan, you may find your friends, who may also be unhappy with their weight, start to try and sabotage your plans by offering you chocolate or cake. And they may not doing it intentionally. It's because if you change and become this slimmer version of yourself, what happens to the, what questions will they need to start asking themselves.

If you decide to give up drinking, you might have friends tell you you're being boring. You may be giving up for serious health reasons - that's not boring. But again, it's because they fear losing a friendship, losing the comfort they had drinking with you. Because you drinking with them validates their drinking  - even if they themselves know they're drinking too much.

So expect to feel some resistance. Try if you can to surround yourself with the positive people who support you. That doesn't mean not listening to sensible advice - you don't need yes men,  But it's about examining the the motives of those you don't support you. Their resistance may be nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. And remember that those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. If you have to, if you suspect someone might not be supportive, in those early days when you are making positive changes but you feel vulnerable to criticism perhaps, then keep it quiet until you feel strong enough to say what you are doing.

So once, again, there is a free downloadable workbook on my website that outlines an eight step plan - your own personal blueprint for change, if you like. So please do take a look.

To round up, I want to tell you that changing your life may be the most important thing you ever do. In fact, changing your life can save your life. And I don't mean that to sound overly dramatic but I have seen this to be true.

I'm a big fan of the late American poet Mary Oliver. The majority of her poems were about nature, about being outside - they are very reflective and  beautiful. And you may already know this quote, it is quite well known.  "Tell me, what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life".

Because we sometimes forget don't we? We only have this one life. Most of our days we can easily fill with the mundane - paying bills and making dinner and trying to get kids to do their homework. But we forget - we are all in denial. Life is short. Life is too short and precious. And if you ask anyone at the end of  their lives what they regret the most, they will tell you:  the biggest regrets are not the things they did do, but the things they didn't  - the opportunities they missed, the risks and chances they didn't take, the perseverance to stick to a goal, the people they turned away from.

Life is precious and short - and for that reason alone, don't we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to be the happiest version of ourselves, the best version of ourselves. And that doesn't mean being selfish, or completely disregarding others' feelings  -  it means being responsible for our own happiness. If you've travelled on a plane, you'll know that the air stewards tell all parents, "if we hit turbulence and the oxygen masks drop down, put your own mask on first before seeing to your children's." And the reason is obvious of course. If you pass out because of a lack of oxygen you'll be of no help to your children whatsoever. So it is in life - if you are struggling with being unhappy or living a life that constantly rubs you up the wrong way - it won't just impact you. You'll be more irritable, more stressed, maybe you'll feel depressed more often than not. Everyone in your immediate circle will feel it too.

A college professor talking to his students, said: "You all have a little bit of wanting to save the world in you. But I want you to know that it's okay if you only save one person, and it's okay if that person is yourself".

Our own happiness, the choices we make for our own happiness can inspire our friends and loved ones and help them do the same.

So I am going to leave you with a last question and it's this:  if you know what it is you want to change in your life, ask yourself, what is the very first step I can take right now to change my life for the better and commit to making it.

It is never too late to make a change in your life. In the words of the Chinese proverb: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

I'm both a big fan and a huge non-fan of New Year's Resolutions. A fan because, who doesn't like that feeling of renewed energy and hope that comes with the start of a new year? The reason I'm not so enthralled with New Year's Resolutions is… well, how many people do you know who've actually made a New Year's Resolution and stuck to it? Or be honest now, how many times have you kept your resolutions? And how long was it between making your resolutions and breaking them?

What I don't like about New Year's Resolutions is that ultimately the end result often tends to be the same: feeling like a failure because once again we weren't able to do what we said we were going to do.  And I've never been a big fan of that.

New Year's Resolutions can be just another way we set ourselves up for failure and remind ourselves in some way that we are "not enough",

So how do we keep the good stuff - the setting goals and improving our lives and giving ourselves something to feel good about - while making sure we don't end up giving up  and feeling even worse than before we started?

Follow these five tips to help you keep that  "fresh out of the box New Year I can do anything feeling" going all year.

Don't start on January 1st
For some resolutions there can be no worse time to start than January 1st. I'm thinking of the common resolution to get fit and lose weight. While there are still leftovers and chocolate and alcohol lurking around, it's not a great idea to start on a healthy eating regime. Trying to eat better when temptation is all around is difficult even for those with the strongest willpower.

So, give yourself time. Allow yourself a few days to clear the cupboards of treats and for the overindulgence of the holiday season to well and truly be over before you fully commit to your New Year's Resolutions.

Remember the tortoise and the hare - it's not a race or about shooting out of the starting blocks all guns blazing.

Tip: You have time. And you can set your own start date.

It's all about your actions
So you've set your New Year's Resolutions. Achieving your resolutions is now going to be absolutely dependent on all of the actions you take every day, large or small. And from this point on, every action you take is either moving you towards or away from your goal. 

If you're trying to lose weight, eating a cookie will move you away from your goal. Setting your alarm for 30 minutes earlier and going for a run moves you towards your goal. So before you reach for another chocolate, or skip the gym, ask yourself: "Am I moving towards my goal or away from it?"

Tip: Be mindful of your actions. Every action you take is either moving you towards or away from your goal. Always be moving towards your goal.

When temptation strikes, focus on the feeling
Kate Moss once famously said "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels".  I remember that was quite controversial at the time as many were angry about someone in the public eye condoning being skinny at all costs. But the essence of what she was saying was pretty on the nail.

When we set New Year's Resolutions, we tend to focus on the action. What we will do and what we won't do. We almost always neglect to think about how we feel. Specifically, how we will feel once we have reached our ideal weight, haven't had a cigarette or a drink in one or two or three months. Or how it will feel after stashing away money and finally having enough for that dream holiday.

Focusing on the feeling of having achieved our goals can help get us through those sticky moments of temptation. 

Try this morning meditation to help you focus on the feeling of achieving your goals:

Tip: Resolution Morning Meditation: Set aside 5 minutes first thing in the morning. Make sure you won't be disturbed. Close your eyes. Now start to imagine you've achieved your goal. What does it feel like? Feel it in your body. Where does the feeling sit? Is it excitement, joy, happiness, pride, feeling great about your body? Now allow that feeling to expand in your body. Imagine it moving from the top of your scalp, down through your throat and chest, allow it to expand around your heart. Picture yourself achieving your goal while you feel that feeling expand throughout your body, down your thighs to your feet. Visualise and feel at the same time.

Now, feeling good, feeling amazing, open your eyes. Allow the feeling to stay with you and recall the visualisation and the feeling every time you feel like giving up on achieving your goal.

Try a meditation download

Just for today
Most people I know are quite capable of keeping to their New Year's Resolutions for a day, sometimes a week, sometimes even a month. But when the goal has a deadline that is too far away that can feel overwhelming and it becomes easy to lose focus and motivation.

We live our lives in days. Today is all we have and it's in our todays where we set tomorrow's achievements.

Tip: Break your New Year's Resolution into day-sized goals. Imagine your day is one whole year and tell yourself "Just for today I am going to..."  and fill in the blanks, whether it's eat healthier, not smoke or drink, not buy an expensive coffee, take a packed lunch instead of eating out... whatever your New Year's Resolution is.  At the end of the day, remind yourself of how well you have done and give yourself lots of praise for achieving your goals for that day. 

And then do it all again tomorrow. And the next day... 

Slip up but don't give up
Perhaps the most common reason why people give up on their New Year's Resolutions is that they slip up and then give up. It may be that they give in to temptation and then eat chocolate or cake or have a glass of wine, and then feel like such a failure that they give up completely.

Accept that failing is part of the process - in fact, I think room for failure should be factored into every New Year's Resolution. You have set an intention to improve your life in some way.  It's not a contest, not a competition - it's a pathway, a journey, you haven't failed. 

Tip: if you slip up, be kind to yourself. Achieving your goals is not an all or nothing journey.  Remember to get back to moving towards your goals, focus on the small everyday actions, put your blinkers on and focus on today. Remind yourself how you will feel once you have achieved your goals. Go further and imagine you have already achieved them and immerse yourself in that feeling.

And then begin again. 

In 1940, author, activist and lecturer Helen Keller published  a book called Let Us Have Faith.  In a chapter entitled  Faith Fears Not she wrote:

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing*"

It's one of my favourite quotes despite often being misquoted (with the addition of an "at all" at the end).  I like it because it reminds me of the big picture, when fear gets in the way of making big, bold decisions about how I want my life to be. 

Helen Keller is of course most famous for living a bold and fearless life despite being blind, deaf and initially considered mute.  Keller suffered a viral illness at 18 months old that stole her sight and robbed her of her hearing; doctors diagnosed  "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain" which was later believed to be scarlet fever or meningitis. She described her life  growing up as being “at sea in a dense fog” – which is probably all the description you need.

Having faith must have been a daily challenge for Keller. If you can't have faith in what you see and hear, then what remains must be an extraordinary faith in something else; not necessarily religious faith, though Keller had that, but a simple unwavering faith  in life. The belief that with every step she took, the ground would not renege on an unspoken deal to be there beneath her feet, always. Without the anchors of sight and sound to guide her, all she had was faith in what she knew to be true - gravity, the ground, people who looked after her  - and that these would be present and continue her whole life long.

I'm presuming a lot of course. But for the rest of us, gifted with all our senses  - or perhaps burdened by them -  how often do we have that same trust in life: that it will unfold in its own way without us needing to control every element, every moment, every outcome? How often do we feel that a bold step into the unknown will be met well and not with disaster?

Life goes on whether you sit on your sofa and binge-watch Netflix or get out there and follow your heart, do something new, give life the opportunity to live up to your expectations.  But getting out there and doing something  is invariably more interesting.

Fear of Failure

What usually stops the "doing something"  and "following your heart-ing" is fear of course: a fear of failure, or humiliation, or rejection and so on. Fear either gives rise to a desire to try and control everything, or a feeling that no matter what you do, it will never amount to anything, so why bother? You could argue that laziness is just fear in disguise. Better to not try than try and fail.  

But whether you're frightened or not makes no difference. People who play it safe are not necessarily safer. People who go out and experience the world may not be safer either but life is richer, more colourful, more wonderful.

Life is an adventure... even if it doesn't feel like it

Yes, you might be stuck in the same old, same old. Life may be feeling mundane and boring, hard work and difficult. But what you will always have is choice - and choice is exciting.

If nothing else in life, we have a choice in how we respond and react to the mundane and boring and difficult. Despite everything else we have a choice to be different, act differently, think differently. And that means we can act in completely new, better and more appealing ways. Even small changes - like taking a new route to work or choosing to have lunch anywhere but the  desk -  creates a gap between the old us living the boring/mundane/difficult life, to the new us, one step on the road to something better.

Try something different and you might meet someone new who'll change your life, or you'll find your perfect home on a new street. Maybe you'll discover what it is you really want to be doing with your life.

You can put up with being unhappy or you can change it. You can stay or leave. You can shut up or speak up. But in that small moment of decision and change, adventure exists  because, well...


Possibility is perhaps one of my favourite words (after serendipity). It promises hope, it even sounds hopeful. Which it is.

Possible is probable's more exciting, flamboyant cousin. Possible is a little lighter on her feet, more daring. She's a  lot more fun.

Sometimes we get stuck on what's probable, and what's likely to happen. Ask ourselves "what's possible" and it's almost like you can feel the grinding of our mental gearboxes as we start looking at a problem from a different angle. We often have a problem with possibility because dreaming and hoping for what's possible often feels foolish, childish and silly. Probable is much safer ground, more grown up.

Yes, today might probably be much like any other. Or quite possibly it might be the start of something new. Set your mind to what's possible, because when we're open to possibility, we're open to change and  life being better. To life being an adventure. Because...

What's the worst that can happen?

So you have a big dream or goal or idea, or just a notion of how you want your life to be different. But you keep putting it off because you're frightened it will all go wrong.

Imagine for a moment the worst that can possibly happen if you decide to follow through? Describe it in full, gory technicolour detail. Your husband will leave you, you'll be bankrupt and end up homeless relying on charity just to get by. Or you'll fall flat on your face and everyone will laugh at you and you'll have to go back to your boring job answering phones.

Once you're  finished imagining the full horror of failing, ask yourself what you would do then? 

When I ask a client to go through this process. every time without fail they come up with a perfectly reasonable, logical course of action. They realise that even if the worst happened, they would still be okay, that they'd find a way to figure it all out.  

If you can visualise the worst thing that can happen, you can also visualise the best.
Choose that.

Look for the helpers

Back when I was too young to know better I used to make a lot of decisions based on what my heart wanted. Which was a lot of fun (but not advisable some 30 years later).

I moved to San Francisco in my twenties because I was in love. But it wasn’t long before that all went kaput. The weekend that we broke up I also lost my job, and my home and I ended up sleeping on a friend’s sofa. It was 4th July. Independence Day. The irony wasn’t lost on me. As I heard the fireworks boom over Crissy Field, I contemplated my own independence, enforced as it was. I felt utterly miserable.

But that weekend where I felt like I had lost everything  that had meaning to me, I realised I had something. When everything was stripped away I had myself. And my skills and my talents, my body, my mind. I remember looking at my arms and legs in complete surprise as if thinking "My God I'm still here, despite everything." I felt pretty invincible - heartbroken, but invincible.

And then something lovely happened. People who were strangers then but who I now consider lifelong friends, rallied round and helped. As the much-loved children's TV host Mr Rogers always used to say "Look for the helpers". I had lots of helpers. 

For someone whose life had just been upended, I felt in pretty good shape, pretty lucky. Because with these things - my body, my mind, my skills, my talents, and people to help - I had all I needed to start over.

On life's 'big highway' you have all that you really need to start something new, start again, start out.  You have all that you need for the journey: your brilliant mind (whether you believe it's brilliant or not, it is), your amazing ability to love and be loved, your curiosity, your intelligence, your compassion, your connection. Everything else, all the other stuff is just a bonus. As Dr Seuss said:

"You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose"
Dr Seuss

The worst can happen and often does. But it happens despite, not because, you're living life to the full.  Life is a bitch. And then it isn't. What is there really  to lose except a life un-lived?

So love life with a big heart. Love people completely and allow yourself to be loved in return. Not the fake, pretend love that’s really something else dressed up as love in disguise. Love people who make you feel, as author Jen Sincero puts it  "like you could carry a horse up a hill". 

And go for what you want, not what you think other people want for you. We're here for such a little time. Try not to worry. Even if you can't see the ground in front of you, trust you will be okay. And remember to look for the helpers and let them help you. Because helping also makes the helper feel good. 

If you're unhappy where you are, all it takes is just one step in a new direction. That's the adventure. The ground will be there.

Helen Keller, Let Us Have Faith, 1940

  • "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable."
The process of trying to make a decision can be tortuous. Whether it's deciding to hand in your notice at work, or move house  - you weigh up all the pros and cons, you talk to friends, you agonise over whether to make the leap and go for it, only to change your mind and retreat into doubt and confusion. And then the process starts all over again. Should I? Shouldn't I? Over and over.

Taking action once you've made a decision can take seconds. And then there you are, standing blinking in the sunlight of your new life, decision made.

Getting to the  point of making that decision, however, can take months, even years.

If this is you and you're currently stuck in the middle of making a decision - whether it's a big one like deciding to change career, or a seemingly small one like whether to sign up for gym membership - ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What will happen if I do this (quit my job/move house/confront my friend over her behaviour)?
  2. What will happen if I don't do this?
  3. What won't happen if I do this?
  4. What won't happen if I don't do this?

An upgrade to the usual two-columned Pros and Cons approach, the purpose of these questions is to help you explore all your options and examine all possible outcomes of your decision, good or bad.

That last question is a bit of a doozy and gives the old brain cells a bit of a workout I admit, but stick with it - see what you come up with.

Once you've answered all four questions, you'll have a more comprehensive list of possibilities from which to make a more informed and intuitive decision.  And when you're armed with that knowledge - you, and only you, will know what the right decision is for you.

Dawn x

Photo: ©Fotolia/connei_design

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