Open up your Facebook page or read one of your favourite blogs and it’s very likely that you will encounter some kind of story or message that tells you about how someone has overcome something and wants to share evangelically about their experience.
You read all about how this person has fought back and made big changes in their life and now wonderful things have happened.
How through hard work and determination and seeking enlightenment they’ve achieved their hearts desire.
How reading this amazing book that ‘you’ve got to read’, they’ve changed their life and are now implementing little things every day that make a difference. Oh, and how they appreciate everything! Even the morning dew on the flowers in the….blah blah blah…
How they took up a life changing course or training and now they are up at crack sparrow every day drinking green juice, running 10 miles and meditating all before their kids wake up and then they have the rest of the day to focus on their multi-million pound business. Agggghhhhh!…
…the list goes on…
– I’m so tired of it all! –
Well, it’s not surprising that sometimes it all feels like too much.
Sometimes when you feel like you are struggling just to get the day to day tasks done that you need to survive, like go to work, clean your house, eat proper meals and not contribute any more to that little paunch of a belly that is now peeking over the top of your trousers, then hearing stories of others’ wonderfulness feels like the least helpful thing EVER!
But is this reality? What is really going on here?
Well, if you find yourself going through a period like this, where it all feels a bit much and you feel like ‘personal growth’ stories and sharing might just tip you over the edge, there are few things that might help your mindset…and help you not to strangle the next happy-clappy person that wants to share their super-duper amazing news with you….Grrrrr!
– The feeling doesn’t usually last forever –
I’m no stranger to feeling like this. I call it ‘inspirational burn-out’.
I get to stage where I feel like I’ve read so many self-help books, looked at so many pretty and ‘inspiring’ blogs, read so many friends’ stories on Facebook about how they are so in love with their partner or that their business is going so amazingly well or the kid that they were complaining about last week is now their little angel and they love them so much < enter picture of angelic sleeping cherub> that I want to crawl under a blanket…maybe with a good bottle of red!
At times like this though I try to remember, just like the parent who wanted to throttle her child last week, that the feeling is short lived.
I know now when I feel like to this to step away from the book shelf, to turn off pretty pictures on Instagram and beautiful blogs of ‘perfect’ houses, to turn off Facebook and to take a breath and focus on something real. In other words to actively participate in my ‘real’ life.
When we feel like this, it’s often a sign that we need a break and time to refocus on the here and now. Taking one step at a time just doing the things that we need to get done and being active takes us out of our head and back to reality. Sure, take what you will from the books and things you’ve seen in a way that feels helpful, but you don’t have to see it as a road map for your own life.
After a while, when you feel more grounded and maybe have done more things that are important to you in your own life you may begin to feel like you’ve really accomplished something, and that you haven’t merely been focussed on other peoples stories of success and growth.
I know for me, that when I’ve taken time to stop measuring myself against outside sources of perceived ‘perfection’ or happiness then these books and stories and pictures are just things that I can dip in and out of with little more than interest or amusement. They also have more ability to make me smile and not affect me on a deeper level.
A good way to put some of this in perspective and an example of how fickle some of this stuff can be is in the funny Instagram account for Sociality Barbie who just basically takes the mick out of ‘pretty’ and deep and meaningful photos. Tee hee…enojoy!
– It’s not real anyway!-
Following on from this is just recognising the fact that what you are seeing/reading is usually not a true representation of real-life anyway, especially when it comes to social media. If you are reading a book, the book usually always has a happy ending. If you see something on Facebook it’s through someone else’s filter which often is geared to portray the ‘best side’.
The best way to highlight what I mean is by watching this fantastic video that was made by the Higton Brothers in Norway which shows how easily these things, especially social media, can help you to portray a wonderful looking life if you want to?
Really, it’s well worth watching and SO helpful as a reminder to anyone who feels bombarded by others stories of happiness and success.
Remember, we tell people what we are comfortable telling them and show them what we are comfortable showing them. The reality is often quite different.
(Also, you may want to read this interesting Telegraph article about the same HERE-Telegraph Article re Higton Bros Video)
– The journey is only inspirational when it’s a story told –
The last thing to note here is simply that when we read a book to help us; when we look at the stories of others and witness their growth, and amazing journey of inspiration it’s so useful to remember that it is just that. It is THEIR individual journey and story.
It is much easier to portray something when we have been able to get our head around it and present it as a story with a clear conclusion and therefore messages of courage and inspiration.
A really good example of this is Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.
In a recent interview she interestingly says the following:
‘I love helping people. I think there are much more efficient ways for me to do it…like, I give money to good organisations, I vote and I volunteer and I do all that kind of stuff. My art though is mine. And even the art that I make that ends up helping people, like Eat, Pray, Love- for instance people will say ‘thank you so much for your book it really helped me, it changed me’ I didn’t sit down to write that book saying ‘it’s high time I changed peoples lives!’
‘You know, like I was such a hot mess at that point in my life. Like I could barely tie my own shoes and that moment like, the last thing I had any business doing, was like and now people….let me give you the answers’.
(for the full interview please CLICK HERE)
I love this, as Elizabeth is really clear that the books she wrote were for her. That when she wrote Eat, Pray, Love it was really just her account of what happened and it had been a very difficult and painful journey. What people took from it was up to them. If it helped them great. But that was not her intention.
It also highlights the power of the story. Like I said, a story has a beginning , middle and end and the end is usually a good one…just like Eat, Pray, Love. This book was so good in fact that they made a film of it, in which you see the journey of this young woman who ends up finding love in the arms of her now husband after a long and inspirational journey of discovery. The fact is, is that you know there is a good ending and so the journey just seems easy…the truth however is as Elizabeth Gilbert describes it….a hot mess!
So, if you find stories of others inspiring that’s wonderful, but it’s important for us to remember that the reality is often oh so different. That really so many of us, even those that have a ‘story of success’ or challenge that they have overcome did so in their own time, in their own way. It doesn’t mean it has to be YOUR way. You get to choose.
I hope you found this useful, if not a little entertaining. Remember, don’t believe all your read and see. Grow when you want to in the way that you want to and find your own path to happiness, dipping in for inspiration when you need to but more importantly focussing on your real life, because that is where it all REALLY happens!
Till next week.