Have you ever lived your life on auto-pilot? You know that feeling…like when you’re driving down the freeway and your brain disappears into thought for a moment while your eyes focus on the car in front you when you find yourself nearly 5 miles down the highway and you kind of think to yourself Wait! How did I get here so fast? Not in a dangerous sort of checked-out way. Alert and engaged, but not paying close attention to all the details around you.
I think most of us slip into moments like this in our life. It could be in your job. It could be in your friendships. It could even be in your parenting or your marriage. The suck of routines, habits and repetition can get the best of anyone.
There was a time in my life where everything was a bit blurred. I went through the motions of “getting things done” and chalked it all up to “happiness” and “comfort.” I later realized that during that phase, something inside me was slowly dying.
Imagine, if you will, having to wrap up your arm, place it in a sling, and no longer being able to use the arm to do every-day things. You cannot move it. You cannot wash it or care for it. You cannot allow it to see the sunshine. You’re still the same, happy person you always were, but you cannot use your arm. OK. That’s manageable, wouldn’t you say?
Days and weeks go by, and the arm gets weaker. The cells in the arm start to deteriorate, and Atrophy sets in. It’s a slow, gradual process. The arm has been neglected. Your demeanor changes. You’re happiness turns to complacency, because you’re used to having to function under the circumstances. And you feel as though you have no choice, because that is the lot you were dealt.
This is exactly what it feels like when you’re living a life feeling controlled and manipulated by something or someone. It can be an addiction, a parent, a spouse, or even a child. When you’re living in this situation, you go through the motions of life and the color and energy within you is trapped.
But a day can come where you can unwrap, move again, and stand in the sunshine. It starts with believing in yourself and not allowing something or someone to confine you or control you. How can I do that, you ask? Start small:
- Pick up a skill, hobby or interest you had in your childhood or when you were happiest. My start began with photography and scrapbooking. I dove straight in and remembered how freaking amazing it felt to do something just for myself. Doing this small thing for yourself will build your confidence in you and your abilities.
- Spend time outside! Breathe the air. See the beautiful things around you. Take a walk and allow yourself to dream of a life where you are in control and moving forward. DREAM!
- Laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. If you’re on auto-pilot, chances are that you aren’t laughing very much. Schedule a girls night at your house and eat junk food and wear sweats and dish about your latest awful days, dates or sexy crushes.
- Turn up the music! LOUD! For the 2-year period post-divorce, I woke up every day, turned on a music channel on our TV, and blasted music for all of us as we got out of bed and got moving in the mornings–some of them were difficult mornings. I did this more for myself than for my kids. I didn’t realize the impact it had on my kids until the other day, when I turned some music up (loud, of course) in the morning and my youngest said, “We haven’t had music on in the mornings like this for awhile. I remember when we did that in the old house all the time!” She liked that routine and missed it.
- Do push ups, or sit ups, or both. I know this sounds lame, but if you do a few every day you will get stronger. You will feel stronger. You will be stronger. And strength within gets a boost when your body is strong.
It’s amazing how these 5 small things will wake you up! You will see with more clarity. You will begin to feed your soul. And most importantly, you will start to live with more purpose and be engaged more.
My life is filled now with laughter, hope, love, and anticipation, and it all began with these 5 things. Opening your eyes doesn’t have to start as the result of a big shift in your life like mine did. That journey can start when you choose to snap out of it and turn off the auto-pilot.
One of my favorite quotes I found after I got divorced is a daily reminder to me that I do not have to settle or tolerate something or someone that is not good for me, and I leave it now with you:
We cannot make the sun shine, but we can remove from that which may cast a shadow on us. ~Rev. C.H. Spurgeon
Remember that your power and energy should go to yourself. Don’t waste it on someone who isn’t worthy of receiving it. Walk away from those things or people that are nothing but darkness. Embrace the light.