Monday, 24 September 2012

Knowing your limits.

Not everyone can do this...

We all have limitations, no matter how talented or skilled we are.  And, while it’s good to push those limits, to stretch ourselves beyond what we can already do and improve, sometimes it’s important to know there are things we can’t do and should probably leave alone for the good of our health.

I’m talking mainly about mental well-being.  I know that, for me, recently I’ve had to accept that there are certain things I just can’t do; my mind could not cope with the stress or responsibility of a manager’s job, for example. 

This might sound pretty negative but I personally think it’s a good thing – if we know we can’t do something then, rather than forcing ourselves and making ourselves poorly, it’s probably better to do something else and have a better quality of life.

Continuing with work as an example, accepting a job less challenging or more mundane might seem like a sacrifice – we’ll probably end up bored and possibly unmotivated as a result.  However, we (or certainly ‘I’) might have the mental capacity to ‘be’ better outside of work, to give more to our loved ones and our hobbies – in other words, the things that make us happy.

Of course, some people find happiness in their work, and I envy them but I’m just not one of them, not until I’m a published author anyway!  And, the most likely way of that (or any other dream we may have) happening is by having the health/capacity to work towards it.

 In the long run, that ‘sacrifice’ might be worthwhile.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Dating and who we really are.

I love this list. I know it's a bit small,
but hopefully you can click it and zoom in?!

Every so often I get to iron my best shirt, have a second shower of the day, put on some cologne, do my hair (or what’s left of it), and take some poor, unsuspecting lucky girl out for dinner.

I reckon I’m pretty good at the whole ‘first date’ thing.  The logistics are simple enough: book a nice (non-chain, naturally) restaurant, make sure you have enough cash to pay the bill, show up on time, etc. 

And then comes the date itself: assuming we’re not hermits, by the time we reach adulthood we have plenty of life-history to talk through – how could we possibly struggle to find things to say?  There are family holidays, or maybe time spent studying, or career choices, or future hopes and dreams – plenty of questions to ask and topics to bring up.  I’m not saying sit there like some quiz show host, firing off questions, but pick some that will start a conversation.  Generally, I believe people will like someone who lets them talk about themselves.

But, alas, in spite of all my confidence at the first date stage, my relationships have, thus far, not lasted.  And that’s because life is not one continual first date.

A date takes considerable effort and energy, and I tend to fall in to the trap of trying to keep up that level of intensity for weeks...months...even years.  Inevitably, it’s going to fail.  I’m going to get tired and the ‘perfection’ will crash and burn. 

I think this links with being uncomfortable about showing someone our real selves.  On a first date, we want to make a good/perfect impression; we want them to think we’re amazing.  And that’s achievable – for one night.  However, we can’t be ‘perfect’ forever; the real ‘us’ needs to be good enough too.

And in order for it to be good enough for someone else, it has to be good enough for ourselves.  Otherwise we’ll never be willing to show it, and never get out of the cycle of trying to be perfect. 

Someone suggested once I may even sabotage my relationships myself from the inside.  I don’t know whether it’s true but, if it is, it could be because I can’t deal with the prospect of not being ‘perfect’.  As I say, I don’t know.

Accepting who we are and that we do have some very good traits, worth putting up with the not-so-great ones for, is a really healthy state of mind, I think.  Let’s try and work towards it. 

Then I/we might be able to stop continually trying so hard with everyone I/we meet.

Monday, 3 September 2012

'Something's bound to change.'

There’s a song I like at the moment: Clouds by Newton Faulkner.

The line: ‘Something’s bound to change’ struck me in a new way the other day.  I considered the meaning of the word ‘bound’ and wondered if it could mean ‘bound’ in the way something is bound by a rope: tied up, unable to escape. 

It occurred to me that’s what life is like: ‘bound’ to change.  We live in a constant state of flux; nothing stays the same for long, we’re tied to things changing.

'Stop looking down at the ground,
 just pick it out of the clouds.'
– Newton Faulkner
It’s no secret I’ve been having a tough time in recent months and perhaps that’s why these words resonated.  A few weeks ago I couldn’t imagine things might change for the better – ever – but, of course, they have.  As I said: nothing stays the same for long.  I’m back at work, my mood’s improved, and I’m picking up my projects/social life again.

As a good friend always reminds me when I’m struggling: ‘This too shall pass’.

It’s a good thing to remember: things do change.  Even though, sometimes, we can’t see or conceive what might change, we can be pretty sure that something will.  It’s bound to. 

Next time life feels like it’s at rock bottom, knowing it’s felt that way before and things did improve might just help in the struggle to keep going until that ‘change’ happens.

It might even be as soon as a couple of weeks away.  You never know.