A few weeks ago I had posted a tweet stating that we all try our best to maintain our relationships with others while we neglect that the most important connection of all that is the relationship with ourselves. It’s a thought I have had on my mind for quite a while as I believe we neglect ourselves on a daily basis to achieve other things we believe are more important. From the response my tweet got I thought it was something I should write about.
With every sunrise we wake up, get dressed, rush to our jobs to meet our endless deadlines. We then come back home to take care of our social responsibilities then go back to bed to rest for the next day. We are all used to such a routine that we don’t think much of as it became a part of our lives. However, such a routine, though we might not notice it yet, leaves us drained struggling to wake up every morning to keep up with projects, family, friends, events and so on. Such a feeling that leaves us irritated and anxious that no holiday or local entertainment could ease it as it overwhelms us again once the distraction ends and we get back to our routine lives.
Through being disconnected from ourselves we lead an unbalanced life where we feel drained emotionally as we live our lives in accordance with the feelings of others and the effect of life. We fall behind the people we support, the work we have, and the plans we made being overwhelmed with anxiety, anger and lack of focus. In addition, we continue to search for happiness in other people and materialistic things but we fail to find it because we gave up our lives for things we thought were more important.
There are many reasons why we feel so distracted from ourselves. First, the endless ambition of wanting to move up the socio-economic level and providing a better financial status for self and family through long working hours, focusing on business relations, tight deadlines, and sometimes even having multiple jobs. Second, what we believe as the human duty of assisting others, solving problems, and giving affection and support which is getting harder due to our nuclear families’ social structure and keeping up with friends’ expectations. Third, the many distractions of today’s life and the responsibilities we have. Finally, not having enough courage and will to get to know ourselves because we are afraid of seeing our bare selves -- good and bad.
Reflecting the above on myself I knew I was disconnected and that I should do something about it to live a more satisfied life. It was there when I decided to go on a seven-day journey away from all life’s distractions to get to know myself through focusing on connecting with my inner self to find relief, happiness, balance and answers to my life questions.
Away from the world in a village in the countryside of Tuscany, Italy I planned to stay at a residence with a bunch of other people who were on the same journey to get to know and connect with ourselves. There were two organisers and six members I learnt so many things from. The experience was so rich that it took us all away from our daily routines and distractions to a new life where all we had to do is relax and reflect on ourselves, health, dreams, through thinking about the past, present and future using a variety of simple practices and activities we tend to neglect in our daily lives. We were located in a place that was surrounded by nature where we had the chance to breathe fresh air, clear our minds, and reflect on ourselves to think of the bigger picture of the life we’re living back home by going on walks in different residents’ gardens, the nearby forest, or the laid-back local town. Through the quiet walks a feeling overcomes you that the real life we are living is more of an illusion, where things we think of as being the most important have no meaning at all because all that is important is you and your dreams. It is a moment of wakefulness of the mind where you realise what is important and what is not and start creating a new list to prioritise things in your life and add some other things you have forgotten about long ago. It also makes you think of the most important question of all: Am I the person who I wanted to become? Am I living the life I wanted to live? Am I having the type of relationships and career I’ve always dreamed of having? Or have I been swept to a life I never wanted to be a part of? It makes you think that there’s nothing in your current life that hasn’t been your choice, even the things that you once thought have been obliged on you were in reality things you decided not to reject for some reason. So many thoughts and questions go through your mind looking for answers, but, this time, you don’t get anxious because you know that they’ll come to you.
Writing in journals about our feelings, our lives, our experiences, wants and dreams is a habit some of us used to have at a young age and some never heard of. You’ll be amazed at how much writing helps free you from the inside, calms you, and clears your mind to think things through. It’s a friend that never fails you, a partner that never misunderstands or judges you. It’s just there with its wide covers open to listen to you. Get yourself a journal, write your different roles in life that includes the current ones and the ones you think you are, choose one every day to write about and explore. Write about your different experiences, whether good or bad and know yourself more. Relieve yourself from daily worries through pouring them out to your close friend. Close its covers and continue the journey of your life. You never know what bright ideas can come from simple free writing.
Through our daily rush we tend to forget to take care of ourselves by exercising and eating healthy food. A few simple exercises in the early morning or simple meditation to clear your mind and soul at night has a great impact on energising your body and filling it with positivity and love that soothes the soul and builds flexible healthy bodies. There’s also no doubt about the influence of healthy food on protecting our bodies from different illnesses.
There is also a significant importance to being a part of different social groups as we are social beings. Trying to pick the best crowd to hang out with is critical to move us forward and encourage us to believe and start the first steps towards a new life. They also allow us to hold different discussions that stimulate our minds, help us face our fears and problems and pursue a better future. We all have family members who we love to share many things with, but we also have the choice of choosing our friends and partners. There are people who we must choose by looking deep into our souls and know what it is we are looking for in them. We must choose them accordingly regardless of what others think as important.
After the short break that allowed me to go on a long journey of getting to know myself I’ve finally found my answers to my most critical life questions. It made me realise that my dream, that has been neglected for a long while, was so beautiful that anything stopping me from pursuing it seemed like a waste of time. I learnt that it is critical for everyone of us to give ourselves the time to get to know and connect with ourselves, love them for who they are, believe in our instincts and lead a balanced life of health, career, relationships, hobbies without forgetting our lifetime dreams. Finally, we all deserve the best in life and we have a choice in how we want our lives to be as it’s never too late to change paths in life and reach for our long lost dream and pursue it.
Hessa Al Bahli is a Dubai-based freelance journalist. You can follow her at www.twitter.com/hessamohd