Moodscope's blog



Seeking advice on moving forwards. Tuesday June 24, 2014

For about a year now, as part of my recovery, I've been encouraged to think about my future, to set goals and think about my values. I'm really struggling with this and I wonder if I'm alone?

I understand the logic and psychological reasoning behind having a purpose, moving forward with integrity towards things that make your life richer and worth living. But if I'm honest, I have a mental block when it comes to this and I could do with some advice.

I have this quote in my bedroom which says "Sometimes on the way to the dream you get lost and find a better one." I look at it every day to encourage me that things are going to be better, that what I have been through has had some meaning and is going to, some day, come good.

Maybe thats part of the problem? Maybe I don't believe it is possible to live your dream, then lose it and find a better one. I think perhaps I have become accustomed to loss, to life hurting, to losing parts of my dignity and confidence, that I just can't quite believe I will get there (wherever "there' is).

A friend once said to me, after finding me at rock bottom, that in a way I was lucky to lose everything and start again, that lots of people would love to hit the reset button given the chance. But after you press reset, you have to build a life worth living and having risked it all once, I'm scared to try again. I'm scared to dream, annoyed that I don't allow myself to dream, and a little bit sad for myself and the life I had in the past. I don't know which things from the past I need for my new future and which things to leave behind. A lot of why I had the life I had before was due to how I had learned to cope, some bad ways, and some good. It's like trying to unravel spaghetti.

I don't mean to be ungrateful about having the chance to press the reset button or finding another dream, but I sure am struggling. My therapist asked me if the magic fairy came during the night and I could wake up in the morning and things were as I would want them to be, how would my life be? And I want to tell him I'm scared that the magic fairy won't know how bad it will feel if I have all those things and lose them again. And I want to ask the magic fairy to unravel the spaghetti for me and help me to know what to use from my old life, from the me I have always known.

So I go on reading about recovery and goals and values but perhaps it's about daring to hope? It's quite scary and I would welcome any advice.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 6:43am

Oooh a tough one. I apologise becausecibhave no advice whatsoever. It's this very thing that is my elephant in the cupboard. Attempting to hug it or hate it, carry it or hide it, show it the door or live squeezed in beside it is my challenge too. It's easier to not think of tomorrow and only think of today, for me. And so I will join you in politely queuing for the advice desk... Love from the room above the garage.

Leesylou Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 7:20am

My first step happened a long time ago, and a long time before I was convinced that I could have a future to plan. That step was having the courage to think about what made me happy, in and of itself. Something that wasn't a step towards something else, or part of a process but a thing that fulfilled at least some of my needs. For me that was acknowledging that singing made me happy - and that some part of my energy should be directed to doing that more often. More recently, I've recognised that I've come far enough that It is most likely that I'll be around for another 20 years or so, and that I need to find a way to imagine myself being in the future. Strangely enough, I found a savings application that made a big difference to my capacity to think straightly about what I might do with my time. Again, it came down to forcing myself to admit that there are things I like or think I would like to do. I know that I 'll be working for most of that 20 years, and that I'll be earning money that I could save to do these things. I would like to build a straw bale house for instance. That requires some land and some materials, so I plotted that into the savings app, and it wouldn't take too long to put that together. By having the courage to think about myself as being satisfied or content in the future, I've now been able to build some part of the path by which I could make that into a reality.

ArtyG Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 7:24am

As above, the reality is that there are no lovely words that can make enough difference. Staying in the present is essential. Try and find a Mindfulness group to join and learn how to live second, minute and day by day. I wish you well and hope you have someone to join you on your journey. For me lonliness is too debilitating.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 7:47am

No advice but a big thank you to Jules for summing up how that feeling of not knowing quite how to 'unravel the spaghetti' of the past &make new recipe for life so eloquently.x

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 7:48am

The future... Is too big. Like you I am trying to re-build my life after a series of "disasters" and losses. Goal setting and thinking about what is achievable in the short term is for me the way to go. For example I have broken down my life into areas that are important to me this circle of confidence is definitely wobbly! One area that I am currently working on is social interaction and meeting new people. So a short term goal is to find a walking group, join... And go on a walk...

Rupert Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 8:15am

Brilliant post Jules. I believe I "lost my way" a long time ago and kindof live on a day to day basis so nothing ever gets done or resolved for the future and I have stagnanted I guess. I think it is hard to look to the future when the mind has always said even from an early age that the future is dark and bleak.It is the only way to live in the present it seems.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 8:23am

I once listened to a radio programme about happiness. It talked about there being two kinds of happiness - short bouts of joy caused by instant gratification from small things (a beautiful sunset, a delicious meal, a good book) or long term satisfaction brought about by achieving ones goals (getting the promotion you wanted, buying a house, passing your degree).
The programme said that a study had shown that most people focused on setting long term goals and working to achieve these as they thought that this was what made them happy. In actual fact it showed that the happier people were the ones who focused on doing things that made them feel joyful on a regular daily basis and that achieving our lifetime goals, while important in making us feel good about ourselves and giving us a purpose, was not the key to feeling happy.
I am not sure whether you will find this helpful but I did. I made it my goal to take the time during my day to feel happy about the small things - I think this fits with part of the mindfulness ethos, it is the 'living in the moment' theory.
I have found that in focusing on the here and now and feeling happy several times a day about small things it has made me feel more happy overall.
I still have long term goals but I don't place as much weight on these making me happy and accept that they may morph and change depending on what else life throws at me.
Making yourself happy when you have felt real despair is not easy but it is also not complicated, unfortunately it takes effort and determination at a time when you probably feel that you don't have the energy. But I suggest that instead of thinking what your goals should be you should think about what things would make you happy on a day to day basis and try to do more of these things and the rest will follow...
Wishing you the best of luck and a richer happier life :-)

Julia Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 8:36am

Hi Jules. When I hit rock bottom and somebody rescued me, I left my job and we moved house to the opposite end of the country, I started anew. The big noticeable difference in me was that I rarely looked to the future from then and to this day I still don't. When I felt really low, I wanted out of the present and fantasised about the future, knowing it had to be better. Now I live in the present as far as I am able to and although I do get depressed, don't sleep etc etc, I am content with my present life. You can't rush recovery which only happens in the present. After all..for me..this present life is the future when I was at rock bottom and it never appeared in any of my dreams for my future either!! So when you are low, future goals are a fantasy and an escape from the awful situation you are in, but just that, a fantasy and an escape and you will find they very rarely translate into reality once you feel better.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 9:01am

Thank you, Anonymous, for saying what i came onto the blog to say....and for saying it better than i could. The only true refuge is the present moment. Not the kind of anticipated 'waiting for Godot' type moment, but an active exploration of that moment by way of the small things. Mindfulness, yes. It is not only a refuge but the place from where all truth and healing comes. All the best, Jules! Best of luck to us all! susan

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 9:19am

I can relate very closely with your story, Jules. It feels very close to my own. Hurt is, unfortunately, a part of life and something everyone can share. I have been helped by remembering it is just a feeling - albeit, a very painful one - but can't actually cause you any harm. Keep reminding yourself of the reasons you are making your choices and decisions as you recover and rebuild and change your life for the better. This will help settle the thoughts and feelings of hurt, though difficult at first, will get easier the more you face painful feelings, rather than continue to be controlled by them. And remember you are not alone - many others, myself included, are with you, gathering the courage we once lacked to move our lives to a happier place.

Mary Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 9:28am

It's so tempting to say "Yeah, what he said." Because the comment above is so very true. When you are down you really just have to live in the present and set really small goals. For me at the moment my small goals are to feed the family and keep up with the washing and ironing. A longer term goal for when I have the energy is cleaning the bathroom which has gone all black and mouldy. Because I'm down at the moment I can't think about the future and planning anything more than a week's menus is just too much. But for me achieving small daily goals (like doing my Moodscope test) does keep me going. Goals don't have to be big, and small goals can be as delicious and as meaningful as big ones.

Roger Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 9:51am

Hi Jules,We all have our story,quoting mine will not add anything positive.Suffice to say I relate to your story.These words are simple but not easy to accept.'The Past Does Not Equal The Future.' The changes can be from good to bad or bad to good. However the most useful idea I have used is to think 'What single thing would make the most positive impact on my life.'Large or small difference it matters not,just do it,accept it as a victory and move to the next thing.I set myself 101 days to make positive differences,not goals to achieve just differences.This I have found leads to a new view,activity is the key.Keep moving,waiting till all the traffic lights are on green is never going to happen.Sincere good wishes,Roger.

Rich Harrison Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 9:55am

Yesterday was a rollercoaster for me.
Here's my advice:
If you're feeling low, write a letter to a famous person of your choice. Not too personal, just a quick " I like your work etc."
The up was researching jobs on the web, and I now have a plan. I feel better. The web, especially Moodscope is a double edged sword of information. You have to see it in context. Real people's views, including their prejudices etc.
Anyway, I hope this helps.
Oh, the super duper high yesterday was getting my e-mail reply from my nominated famous person. I had to tell a couple of people by the end of the day. I just couldn't sit on it any longer. I won't name them for legal reasons, but two clues: Saturday and leather jacket. ;)
Loving life in my new flat. My band is called The Magic.
Peace and Love, Rich x

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 10:11am

"Something that wasn't a step towards something else" - i think that's a great point and can really take the pressure off. The OP sounds like she's saying " I've been asked to visualize my best future possible, and then start planning how i'm going to make it happen". Well, to me that sounds like a whole heap of pressure. How can you possibly know that the decisions you make now will be the right ones? I'd start smaller, like Lessylou said, and try to identify something small which is You. Practice that for a while and stop thinking about what comes next. I think it will follow naturally on if you have the mantra 'I'm just going to 'be' whilst doing things which make me feel comforted". Its a life journey and IMO its unrealistic to try and run up a mountain when you could just move step by step, answering to no-one (not even your therapist) but yourself. If my magic fairy turned up I would want the world to stop a minute so I could take time to think and breathe and plan, because time waits for no woman. So - a bit of a pointless wish and one unlikely to be helpful when I am trying to recover! xx

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 10:17am

I had a thought which made me stop in my tracks this morning and switch my thinking around (not forever I should think but if we are living in the moment then I made that moment good!) I thought "What if THIS is as bad as it ever gets?" I have so many worries right now which take over my life but...what if I didn't need to change anything to prevent those worries 'coming true'? My normal belief is that THIS is as *good* as it gets, so things can only get worse. Do you see the difference?!

Steven Mason Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 10:20am


Just to say ( as is clear from the above) that you are not alone in this as your words completely rang a bell and encompass my own feelings and the stage I am at, so were a comfort to me.
The terror of slipping back to the dark is ever present.

I have little advice apart from: visualising a light in the distance and it getting closer with each pro-active step.

best wishes Steven

Charlie Laffan-Butler Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 10:53am

I have no advice but I just want to tell you that was beautifully written. If you are not a writer you should be. Maybe you need to be writing about your experiences so you can unravel your own spaghetti.
Sending you love and hope. X

Nathanael Backhouse Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 10:57am

My wife says that one day I will be the head of the company, running the show. I suppose I can see myself in that position, but in terms of the goals and objectives that I give myself... they are not really anything directly related to becoming a Director or Chief Executive Officer they are simply about improving where I am in my current job - and looking to my next step at a time.

Thanks for your post - you have a great way of explaining things; and one piece that really struck a chord with me was when you ask " help me to know what to use from my old life, from the me I have always known." I believe that all of us have our true self, our true personality, that can sometimes be covered up, hidden, or brought to the surface - depending on our environment - things that happen to us, or decisions we make... perhaps even our behaviours can sometimes not reflect our true selves. Anyway, my point is that I don't think you need to choose which parts of you to keep and leave... you just need to choose which environments and behaviours to choose and leave. Which place. people, actions, food, drink, work, talk, music, movies...even exercise...which of all these are going to help bring out the "true me". As for future planning... I personally would not think about where you want to be in 5 or 10 years time....maybe keep it in the back of your mind or not at all - but more importantly is to give yourself a smaller plan of where you want to be this time next month, or next towards that and then keep going!

Nathanael Backhouse Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 11:12am

Some of the kind people on here have already mentioned the importance of enjoying the present moments, and for doing things that make you happy but that are not a "step towards something else" - I completely agree, and I know the answer to everything is not in a book.. I would definitely recommend reading a book called "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. If I try and explain the book it will only do it a disservice, but it is definitely worth picking up and reading. (It's a little cheesy in some places but 95% of it is accessible, and very useful indeed!)

valerie Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 12:43pm

Hi Jules,
You don't say how long it has been since your world was destroyed,or what type of therapy you are having,but what came across to me is that all this talk of setting goals and defining what you want from your life is rather premature.It's a bit like telling someone who has been bereaved "Right,you've had a respectable period of mourning,now get on with life"

It sounds as if it is taking all your energy just to function and try to come to terms with the tsumani that swept your life away.Who says you need goals in order to be healthy and have a good life? What's wrong with just pottering along for a while-or maybe even for the rest of your life? Are you up to this kind of pressure right now,or would it be better to wait until your enthusiasm springs up naturally without being created artificially?

Valerie x

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 12:45pm

Thank you for this lovely and humble post.
I don't follow the blogs lately, so don't know the back story if you've written it, but I feel for you and with you. I've been stuck for a long time. Especially about work, which I don't have now.)
I don't disagree with what most people are saying about present moment experience and small steps forward. I think we can use the word "dream" to beat ourselves up a lot if we don't have some grand vision or strong internal drive.
On the other hand, your response to the fairy thought experiment makes it sound a little like you do have a (new) dream, "all those things" you refer to, but are afraid to voice it. Maybe there's a different way to ask the question that would feel safer to answer, like if someone had a past like yours, what would be a future for them that you would look to with admiration or (gentle) envy? (Or some other way of distancing it from yourself.) Then, maybe you could consider whether that's what you want. Whatever the answers were to the question, you'd have to consider whether it was just what you think someone is supposed to want, whether it (or parts) are realistically attainable over time (or can be translated into something attainable), and then going back to people's prior answers, taking small steps, appreciating the progress, experience, and lessons as you go.
Of course, I should take my own advice. :)
Wishing you (all) the best, and self-compassion along the way.

Elizabeth Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 12:57pm

I had kind of the same feeling when reading, although I thought that for some people setting goals might be what is missing. Maybe it is not necessary to know everything at once.

Anyway I feel with you. My world and values has been shattered in the last half a year too, and suddenly everything has changed and know i will have to find a vision. While I keep thinking about it, there sure are things that no amount of thinking can foresee including your mood and preferences in a half a year. I choose to stick to the only remaining pillar of finishing my school, and leave the others to change as they wish.

Good luck to you.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 1:14pm

Baby steps! Hi Jules ,I've armed myself with a shovel to dig myself out of this years breakdown,hey don't we all? But I'm a firm believer in tomorrows another day. If a day has a storm,it soon becomes the day after,perhaps the sun will shine? Three months ago I saw myself in a box,not feeling the sun on my skin. Small steps I've made work better for me ,then if something doesn't work out,its no biggie. Taking little goals are good,look back at the end of the week & say" look at my achievements ,I did that,what a productive week!" Best of luck,oh & if you're like myself,remind yourself to be patient:)

Amanda King Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 1:43pm

Hi Jules, I agree with many things most of the other posters have already commented, though I feel like there is a piece missing that may help to be addressed. I'm not sure on what exactly your background is, or what your default settings are when things get tough, but in my situation, I had tried everything. I have studied mindfulness and meditation (my mother is a yoga instructor after all), I had found a steady dose of medications that kept me level. I had people that cared about me around that I could talk to about being down. All of it helped, but at the end of the day, my default setting was always there, and I could find no way to let go of it. What I had to do, and this is going to be counter to what a lot of others will tell you, is I had to stop living for myself. I stopped getting up in the morning because it would get me closer to my goals, because I didn't have any goals. I any goals I did have, I either didn't care enough about, or didn't feel were achievable. Instead, I got out of bed because it would make my parents happy to know I was functioning. Not that I wanted to get up, and go to work. But I knew it would help them worry less about me. I wanted to see them happy. I wasn't happy, and I had reached a point of resignation where I accepted I never would be. I found things that I enjoyed a little, like my job, to keep me moving from day to day, and came to peace with trying to find contentment rather than happiness. It seemed like a more reasonable and achievable state of being.
So, if you're finding happiness too big a goal for yourself, try creating a little happiness for someone else. Smile at the cashier, hold a door for someone, call a parent (if you're on good terms) or friend and tell them how much they are appreciated. Perhaps by doing so you'll be able to find a degree of contentment upon which happiness will naturally be able to develop. I agree with the baby steps comment, and definitely agree with appreciating the little things as well. When we stop living in the future (or the past) and can value the beauty of a leaf as it falls from a tree to the ground, then we can have a small moment of peaceful bliss that can carry us to the next moment, even if the next moment is next week. I didn't care enough about myself to keep going. But I did care enough about someone else to want their happiness, so carrying on to make the people I DID care about happy, gave me the time and enough of a routine to get through the really long patches of grey.

This approach is certainly not for everyone, but I thought I should point it out in case it may work for you. Wishing you all the best.


Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 2:30pm

Mourning what is lost is OK. Being mortifief about what you did wrong is OK. rebuilding mental and emotional strength to ask how you have not had before is really really hard. It's a day at a time. Just a day at a time.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 2:35pm

Hello Jules - sympathy for you. When we're lost or down we want to see a clear, well-lit path ahead of us, it feels safer. I've lived a long, occasionally exciting, occasionally boring, sometimes disastrous, sometimes wonderful life.

When I was younger, and in a down and barren patch, I used to try to envisage my perfect future. Trouble is, in doing so, it omitted rather a lot of other things - as I later realised. I now don't envisage anything. I just let it happen. Of course this needs input from me, and my main support here is to go with my gut feelings, not my intellect (although my brain can try to hijack my actions). It takes practice and reflection upon past decisions which were disastrous, self-honesty about why they were disastrous, together with realisation of the good decisions - what they were based upon and why I made them.

In truth, we are our good fairy and I think rigidly envisaging a future can be counter-productive. Many, many years ago I wanted to get married and have children. So I got married but no children happened. Because of the lack of children I carried on working, developed a glamorous and fulfilling career and eventually got divorced. Then I married again and had children, it was wonderful but came at the price of my physical health and my career...and so it goes on. We never know what's around the corner so my advice is to try for awareness of what you want but also be aware that life is what's happening while you're planning for the future - always allow room for the unknown and unexpected.! Good luck and best wishes.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 2:46pm

Well, I had a problem posting so hopefully I can say it just as good this time.. When I read Jules post, I felt I could have written it myself. The most important thing I got, was the progression is already in the works. Reading further down, you also learn something incredible to never forget.... We are never alone in our struggles, although we are all incredible and individually unique, we are still not alone. Spirit Science, spiritual books and lessons, meditation and a good detox to "reboot" the system did wonders for me. Ayurveda is the oldest medicinal medicine ever recorded down, its a good place to start. The side effects that we get from the things stored in our bodies is amazing. Our best is all we have, and if we give that each and every day, well thats good enough. Yesterday is the past, the future is unknown, and the present is a gift... There is an old youtube video of SNL (saturday night live) a friend suggested it to me when I was having a bad day. Its pretty funny, but the message is clear.. Its so very simply to say, but to actually do it... well that is very different. If your curious, just youtube SNL skit "STOP IT"... if anything you may get a good laugh :) Good luck to you all in your journey's ahead, I wish you all the best of luck to your future endeavors.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 2:53pm

Jules thank you for your post - really thought provoking! I totally agree with previous comments regarding mindfulness and living in the moment, taking one day at a time at least in the short term. Perhaps in order to be able to look to the future you need to appreciate the fact that despite what you've been through already and what you said "I think perhaps I have become accustomed to loss, to life hurting, to losing parts of my dignity and confidence" you are still here, living through the rock bottom and beyond and should your worse fear come true "And the magic fairy won't know how bad it will feel if I have all those things and lose them again." you have the inner strength and resilience to survive, keep going and not give up totally. Work on trusting yourself, you are an amazing spiritual being living a human existence!!

Tere Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 3:07pm

I've lost everything - more than once. I, too, had therapists who told me to look at where I wanted my life to be. I agree, that's just too hard! When I became disabled (physical on top of the depression that's haunted me all my life) I thought my life was over. However, with a new therapist - actually, I was in partial hospitalization, wherein I was there during the day and spent the nights at home - I learned that baby steps IS the answer. My first baby step? To get out of partial! Did that help? Somewhat, because I ended up back there after a year, at my request. Now, however, the new therapist and I have gone to the baby steps again, where I learned to mourn at my own pace. I, too, lost everything, including family. I lost my home, and when that happened, moved 1,400 miles away to start anew. And lost what little I had left. After 10 years, I realize that it WAS the best thing that ever happened to me -- having nothing, I could hardly do any worse. The disability was the best part: I started with our state's rehabilitation commission, and went back to school. Interacting with students younger than my children was hard at first, but I did it. And in my second semester (after I failed my first two years, years I don't even remember!) back, I went on a field trip. And found what I believe to be my calling. I need a master's to do this work, and I know I can do it. I'm not even done with my AA yet, but I know I'll get there, even if I'm 65 when I do it! It took failure after failure and loss after loss for me to find my way (and sometimes I wonder if I have really found my way) but I close my eyes and think, again, baby steps. I don't really think of how I'll get the master's - on disability payments, it's hard to think of tuition, but I know that when I get to that point, something will happen. If I hadn't had all those losses, I wouldn't be from a 0 on Moodscope to up to a 76 on some days (today, however, was a 54, but I know why). I THINK before I use the Moodscope, really think, and my scores have steadily risen, and I know that if I can get to 76, I can get even higher. YOU can too. Stop trying to visualize the rest of your life, and focus on minute by minute. That's what PPH taught me. Minute by minute and eventually, you'll see yourself day by day and then even further into the future. And remember to breathe. Be mindful of your breathing. Let everything else go when you're overwhelmed and breathe.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 4:07pm

Yes. Completely agree. I had my last major depression about 11 years ago but still have low times. Many of these have been brought on by stress and setting goals is a major stressor. Mini tasks and aiming to spend time on enjoyable activities are great. So has been building habits such as meditation and making the bed. I don't think asking you to set big goals is useful, choosing little ones to conquer can help with your recovery.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 4:19pm

I agree. The answer for me is now, this moment. I find the Tolle videos on Ytube much more effective than reading the book. Jon Kabat Zinn is also very good. It's all about presence, mindfulness, awareness...

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 6:14pm

Yes, day at a time. eventually you get times when you can look ahead - grasp them. eventually you find you can forgive yourself for not being who you wanted to be - I lost my job as I couldnt cope any more - now find that I would hate to be that person again - I try to stay within my limits most of the time, but also do "exciting" "daring" things on the spur of the moment, before I get scared. I avoid things that triggered me - but replace them with something else, sometimes pushing myself that little bit out of safety... I can always pull back if I need to...
enjoy each day

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 6:23pm

I found that very small, seemingly trivial steps in a day made a significant difference for me. I would spend 15 minutes in the produce section to pick an apple I was going to eat for a snack that day or the asparagus I would have with dinner. Being completely in the moment for those small decisions that were only about engaging in a small kindness to my self became the building blocks of enduring change. Small dreams become big dreams and eventually reality with the passage of time. Don't worry about that or get caught up playing 3-D chess forty moves in to a future you can't possibly know. Take a deep breath and be kind to yourself in a small way today.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 7:04pm

Your piece touched me as it clearly did a number of the other commenters. Sorry to go anon but not confident enough to do this under my name (and admit to having problems??? Publicly???).

We all have our plates of spaghetti (and we know it but other's problems lack the depth and colour of our won) - each of us lives a unique life but faces such similar challenges. One of the things I read that has both sustained and frustrated me was that "the search for enlightenment is like riding an ox in search of an ox". The thing that originally did me in was a flirtation with existential angst that I struggled to kick. What's the point? I guess the point is that we all have all the ingredients within us to find contentment, equanimity (or use your own word) despite the fact that we know we are going to die without leaving any noteworthy impact. There's no thing, no secret but that's such a hard truth to come to terms with. I've oscillated between hurling myself at things in an absurd attempt to do everything on an infinite list and being over-passive because it doesn't matter anyway.

I'm increasingly convinced there is a place in between but it's hard to find and hard to stay there. It's mostly the moments (as a few folks have said) but, I think, with a hint of direction. Not enough to get too attached to but just enough to mean it's not all drift.

More stream of consciousness than intended but meant well. I hope I communicated something of what I intended. I wish you the very best in your struggles with Spaghetti - hope you draw satisfaction from the fact you inspired a response from so many people!

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 7:28pm

i'm at the crossroads now too, i have just split with my girlfriend and now the future looks dim and lonely. I'm worried its a problem with me that we split, that maybe i will make mistakes with the next person. i'm thinking into the future and what will be, but its what i've always done. thinning worst case scenarios instead of taking it day by day, being more in the moment. if you're more in the moment the you can't worry about what might happen. its easier said than done of course but I'm going to keep trying it

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 8:32pm

I dream hard and pray hard but it is meditation that helps me to know that I already am living the change I want. Don't forget that in some way you have already arrived to be asking about what and how to make changes. Don't forget to be and enjoy. Much Love.

Fionna O Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 10:02pm

I remember feeling so low, helpless, hopeless and sad that I sat on the floor in a corner of Waterstones crying.

On getting up and walking to the section of the shop I intended to check I knocked a book off the shelf . I stopped and, before replacing it, read the first couple of pages. Something stopped me right in its tracks. What if this was true? What if this very wise person was right? That was the start of a different and powerful way of being in my life. The relief of not pushing and shoving....

Maybe it will resonate with you as it did with me.

PEMA CHODRUN "Start Where You Are"

This is what the very wise Pema Chodrun has to say.

"We already have everything that we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves-the heavy duty fearing that we're bad and hoping that we're good, the identities we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy, and the addictions of all kinds -never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake."

"Looking at ourselves this way is very different from our usual habit. From this perspective we don't need to change: you can feel as wretched as you like, and you are still a good candidate for enlightenment. You can feel like the world's most hopeless basket case, but that feeling is your wealth, not something to be thrown out or improved upon. There's a richness to all of the smelly stuff that we so dislike and so little desire. The delightful things-what we love so dearly about ourselves, the places in which we feel some sense of pride or inspiration- these also are our wealth".

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 11:39pm

I like the older term "shell shocked" for what some now label PTSD. I've been through that experience myself. I find in my own case that few people understand just how key those goals are to a sense of a life worth enjoying. And how difficult and complicated they are and when we fail to reach the goals life is drained of meaning.

I returned to some other things I had enjoyed in my life during the 'before' period. And these really helped to keep some day-to-day momentum. Finally, watching a video class by Marsha Linehan, one of the developers of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, she spoke the words that lifted the spell, enough for me to start to crawl out from under it. She said, "Sometimes life sucks there's no silver lining, no lessons, nothing." I understand from my studies of grief that those the feelings of loss from those dismantling events will visit from time to time and if I respect their attentions, they won't stay too long.

And a Free Will Astrology message last week had this to say: "Make a name for the dark parts of you," writes Lisa Marie Basile in her poem "Paz." I think that's good advice for you, ... . The imminent future will be an excellent time to fully acknowledge the shadowy aspects of your nature. More than that, it will be a perfect moment to converse with them, get to know them better, and identify their redeeming features. I suspect you will find that just because they are dark doesn't mean they are bad or shameful. If you approach them with love and tenderness, they may even reveal their secret genius."

Let's keep sharing our journeys.

Anonymous Wed, Jun 25th 2014 @ 9:22am

Thank you for your blog. I went to a private therapist recently as I was off work with stress and had lots of physical symptoms. He said he couldn't help me as I could not formulate enough goals to work on! So that was that! Work is all about goals and planning and yes goals are important to consider in life but I don't think we should beat our selves up if we aren't able to do this right now. I feel I am stuck but will become unstuck I know. I find writing lists helps .. I don't think of this as goals but it helps to direct the day.

You can have a new life, a different one. We are all capable of many many things, we just do not know it yet.

My life fell apart 16 years ago and it was rebuilt better than I ever could imagined. I haven't fallen apart to the same degree this time but still there needs to be some rebuilding. Not sure what shape or form!

Anonymous Wed, Jun 25th 2014 @ 9:27am

I think it is hope and belief in ourselves ultimately that will bring a brighter day/future and will lead us to living the kind of life we want to lead.

Anonymous Wed, Jun 25th 2014 @ 9:37am

Just watched SNL stop it . Thank you post above. Hilarious. I want this therapist!

Lois Wed, Jun 25th 2014 @ 10:47pm

Hi Jules. I'm not sure if this would be of use to you but an exercise I've found useful is to figure out my 'Core Desired Feelings' - a term coined by Danielle laPorte. Her thoughts are this:

"You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing a feeling....

...What if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? What if your most desired feelings consciously informed how you plan your day, your year, your career, your holidays — your life?

You know what will happen with that kind of inner clarity and outer action? You’ll feel the way you want to feel more often than not. Decisions will be easier to make: You’ll know what to say no, thank you to and what to say hell yes! to..."

You can download her original worksheet here:

She's actually now morphed this into a beautiful beast called the Desire Map. I've not done this but have found working out my core desired feelings really helpful. You can then make small steps to generate these feelings in your every day life.

Sending lots of Love!

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