Where Do I (really) Live?
My oldest brother just announced that he has plans to move to Europe for a year to see if he would prefer to settle there. Europe, is now becoming a possible new home ground after Singaporeans have crowded out Perth and Auckland!
Most of us fantasize about an ‘ideal’ place to live - it could be in a different country with a cooler climate, maybe someplace that offers more variety for exploration, or somewhere that allows us to experiment with a new way of life.
An ideal place can be something smaller in scale too. I find myself thinking of makeovers of my living space…a nicer cabinet, better organization, and finally, that bold painting, soon...
While our physical space can feel very defining, in truth, how we experience our space depends a lot on what is going on within us.
Scientists found that when in negative emotional states, we tend to emphasise the degree of difficulty and challenge of what is before us. A simple case of the blues can make simple tasks that much harder. So it's little wonder that lockdowns cause so much anugish when we have to share space together. While the physical space may feel limiting, what is going on too is how we perceive the space. That, is a result of what is going on within us: whether emotionally we feel safe, able, strong. For many of us, with the busyness and demands of life, our fragility that suddenly become apparent. We can no longer go on 'business as usual' and the changes can be very threatening, especially if one does not feel able to safely negotiate the changes.
Clearly it is critical for us to develop an awareness of our emotional well-being or not - and recognising how it may colour and impact our perception, interpretation and judgment.
This is why it is sensible to avoid major decisions when one is emotionally vulnerable, and also to take care of where we live - emotionally. This is particularly true for those of us who have big emotions that can overwhelm us quite easily.
So, where do you live - emotionally?
2020 was a humbling year for me as my children grew and began reflecting my emotional state to me. As an intentional person with sensible boundaries, I am rather proud of my emotional awareness and regulation. But they were pointing out that I appeared irritable and angry to them. It was quite an affront. I could get defensive, explain the woes I bear that they aren’t aware of, or go on a tirade like, “when I was your age…”.
Seeing as blind spots are a real thing, I asked for some evidence and took that to the forensic lab of thought and prayer for a closer investigation.
It wasn’t difficult to acknowledge that I do battle with ongoing disappointments and frustrations and that on some days, my strength wanes. As I reflected, I also sifted through how I would help them come to know me better as a person, how to help and support me, and journey together towards being stronger together.
Funnily, one of the things that upset me is how I judge them to lack ownership over the home and what needs to be done. On rough days, this perception weighs on me and at times causes me undue anxiety of being a worn-out, old, lonely person when I am… old. This line of thought drains me of the joy of my home and spaces become a burden to upkeep instead of a gift to enjoy.
After several conversations, I realised that we are more a team, and what truly mattered - holding on to each other’s lives - was shaping up, and with that, the chores around the house.
It was uncomfortable (to say the least) to have my emotional state called out. But it was needful.
Thankfully, my vulnerability and authenticity then created the perception needed that we are all in this together! Of course, this is possible because of the strong bonds forged over the years with my children - which really is also a result of being authentic and vulnerable. Children see their parents at first as heroes who can do anything. But soon they witness our foibles and frailties, inconsistencies, and weaknesses. To try to hide them will reinforce in them a fear of being fully honest and weaken the hope that transformation is possible.
We live in a world that celebrates the outcomes but often ignores the journey, and especially the pain along the way. When we speak of any struggle or failure, the story is told only when there is a successful outcome. This approach betrays the belief that most of us are unable to really live - until we attain some goal or meet some expectation.
What is happening in this approach is that we are postponing the all-important act of Living.
Life happens in the present.
To really live, is to embrace where we are at in our lives, and be brave to admit where we are hurting or may have hurt others. It is to trust the stream of Life that flows and heals, and will carry us onward. It is to take responsibility, show up and be willing to grow.
If your year ahead feels dark, uncertain, and even bleak, or perhaps you realize now that where you really live is fast becoming devoid of life, join us at In.habit - created for all of us, to have a safe space to just Be, and gently allow the time and the gifts of those hosting the session to offer us what we may need to see our true emotional state, share our story and experience a shift towards the hope of transformation.
And when our emotions get healthier and stronger, our world and spaces will feel and look better too.
Where do you want to live?