Winter would not seem so dark, deep and tough if you knew that Spring would follow on a particular date and that the outcomes for your goals and dreams – your Summer success – would be certain…
It is often the uncertainty, the what-ifs? and the yes-buts in our lives which cause the problems. By dedicating too much effort to focusing on what could go wrong, we introduce doubt in our minds, and we create a fertile plain for these doubts to undermine our belief in our own dreams. We have all read motivational books and watched inspiring movies that remind us that the biggest block to our own success is often our own lack of self-belief.
Navigating Winter without a plan
Sometimes external events in our lives create enormous upset and emotional turmoil. They can throw us off our Sine Curve and catapult us abruptly into Winter, with no protection around us, leaving us vulnerable and exposed. The very goals and ideals, which yesterday drove us, have gone.
The death of a loved one, news of an illness for yourself, a family member or friend, and the realisation that your relationship with your partner might be over, can all catapult us off our plan (Sine Curve) and leave us feeling low and lost. I have never studied counselling or psychology, but life events and my belief in a better future for me and those around me have shaped Life is a Sine Curve to become a useful tool which I find helps me to find a new direction when the chips are down.
Embracing the past to shape the future
After my Dad died in 2009, my Mum planted a rose bush in the garden. On a couple of occasions this rose produced flowers in the middle of winter – they were beautiful and unexpected. Not only did they remind me of how strong my Dad was, the flowers also prompted me to reflect that even in the middle of Winter we can pause and find time and energy to create something. That could be new plans and goals if our Autumn plan (see Life is a Sine Curve, explained) needs to be adjusted, a new sense of self, or simply whatever we need at that particular point in time to deal with events around us.
When dealing with the grief of the loss of my Dad, I found embracing fond memories to be the source of my protection. Of course there were also those regrets where things could have been done or said differently.
Some years ago, I attended a class on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). I have never become an NLP Practitioner, but a significant takeaway for me from the course was the understanding that our memories are simply our version of an event at a particular moment in time. Over time, our recollections of these memories change. So, in essence, our memory today of an event in our past is simply our current version of what may have happened. Once I understood this point, I felt empowered to embrace the happy, positive memories, which then helped me to shape my future goals and direction with plenty of my Dad’s thinking built-in.
What to do if you find yourself in an unexpected Winter
Remember that what we feel, think and do today will shape our future thoughts and actions. Know, too, that we have control over these thoughts and actions, even when we are feeling at our most vulnerable, and they will provide us with the strength to address our fears. Over the years, I have found embracing my fears enlightening and energising, and have found that I enjoy so much more of life’s everyday details.
When in Winter a lot of people look elsewhere for Spring – in work, in marriage, or in life in general. Sometimes looking a bit closer to home at yourself, your partner, and the positives you take from work can provide all the green shoots you need for your Winter to become your joyous Spring. In this modern, commercial world full of subliminal advertising and those selling us a quick fix or solution, sometimes all we really need is to take a really long, hard and honest look at what we actually have around us…
So, if you find yourself unexpectedly in the middle of Winter, remember the good times to provide some warmth, energy and protection. Move on or come to terms with memories which might be holding back your future growth, and cherish what you do actually have around you, right here, right now.
After all, life is like an ultramarathon…
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