How many legs has your table?
We are all aware that we spend an estimated one-third of our lives asleep, and for those who work fulltime, another (approximately) one-third at work. But what is going on in your life for the remainder of your time? How much variety do you have in your life?
How many of us, on reflection, recognise that our lives today are made up differently from how they seemed 10 or even 20 years ago? Was your world a bigger place then? Our lives continually evolve: families grow, careers take off and/or change course and different demands are made on our time at different times – so that without realising it, we may have left some things behind which we previously felt passionately about. In the midst of the stresses and pace of our changing modern lives, pastimes we were once so involved with, and contact with friends whose paths no longer cross with ours, can slip away without us barely noticing.
Feeling that we have a balanced life can be a challenge in today’s frantic world. The metaphor of the legs of a table can be a useful way of thinking about the elements which support you in your life. If I only have two legs to my table (for example, work and my partner) like any two-legged table, mine could be a little unstable. When life is all plain sailing, my table may manage to stay upright although a little wobbly! However if my relationship with my other half hits the rocks or my job is in jeopardy, I could find myself without any solid supports to keep me balanced and my table is likely to topple over!
If, for example, we have a healthy relationship with our partners, a supportive family, a fulfilling job and some great friends – this gives us four strong legs to start with. Other aspects of our lives which allow us to feel satisfaction and happiness include: hobbies, interests, a sense of spirituality, our self-care routine including regular exercise, a local community role – things we feel passionate about, make us laugh and/or bring meaning to our lives. These are all positive elements to have in our lives and sometimes they need a little dusting off and nurturing.
So if, on reflection, you recognise that your table could do with an extra leg or two, try something out such as taking up a new form of exercise, volunteering in your local community or joining a club – www.meetup.com offers opportunities to link with people with all sorts of common interests. Alternatively think about your life of a decade or more ago, and see if you can identify something or someone that it could be worth reconnecting with.
The more legs your table has, the stronger and more resilient against stress and anxiety you will become. Positive side effects will include improved confidence and self-esteem while your relationships with others will benefit from the more independent, well-rounded and interesting you.
Geraldine Dunne www.southdublinpsychotherapy.com