I have always been ambitious. From a young age, I remember wanting to prove myself to others, to prove that I was good, worthy of respect and that I was valuable. Over the years, it became clear to me that this drive to be someone in others eyes was down to my lack of self-worth, it was all about how I viewed me and my place in the world. But despite becoming aware of this, I continued to struggle with being content and being genuinely happy with what I had and where I was in life. As a therapist and coach, I should have known better, I knew lots of tools to be more positive and confident (and they definitely helped) but I continued to be driven to prove my worth.
My inner battle to be content vs my desire to prove myself has become more settled over the past few years – there seems to be a truce. I can’t put my finger on exactly when it happened but there seems to be a truce in place. The only significant change in my life has been my consistency with my mindfulness meditation and my efforts to embrace the present moment. When I was a religious minister, I taught about contentment, peace and stillness and the principles were sound but they always felt so hard to achieve.
What I love about mindfulness is that I don’t have to be more BLANK (replace BLANK with a quality or characteristic) and I don’t have to stop being BLANK (replace BLANK with an unwanted quality). All I need to be, in order to feel a sense of calm contentment, is… PRESENT.
I know, I know, it just sounds ridiculously simplistic! I’ve even been tempted to delete the post because it all seems like fairy-tale woowoo but honestly, it works. I can’t say that it had a huge and lasting impact on me when I first began meditating and learning about mindfulness but as time has gone by and I have been consistent with my meditation and application of the principles, it is definitely changing how I feel about life.
When I fully attend to right now, this present moment, and become absorbed in it through my senses, I feel calmer, more centered, and generally pretty happy. That sense of calm pervades more and more and it seems to have crept into lots of areas of life. In 2010 I visited my doctor for stress-induced dermatitis. At the time I had no clue that the diagnosis was going to be stress and I was oblivious as to how stressed I was. It was a difficult time for our business and I was obviously feeling it. There were nights I would lie awake at night concerned that I would not be able to pay the team at the end of the month. I look back to that time and I can honestly say that the pressures I have faced more recently have been greater but the calmness that has developed through mindfulness is changing me.