Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood. ~Andy Goldsworthy
As a child, I always loved snow. In fact, while living in Switzerland, one of the coolest birthday gifts I would receive from my brother was a snowman. So my recent vacation in Odessa– my wife’s home city in Ukraine– felt like a time machine, re-awakening some of those early childhood memories.
We were staying with my parents in law who had booked daily Thai massage for us and spoiled us in any way they could. They also insisted on taking care of our son, giving us lots of time to chill: No worries, pure relaxation, beautiful walks and lots of time to refuel the batteries for a successful and exciting 2016. That is what our schedule looked like.
This trip gave me some time to think about the last 12 months: 2015 was amazing for me – after all, I had just become a dad. At the same time, it also included new kind of challenges, like for example a lack of sleep or less time for fun and pleasure. So being in the city of Odessa was the perfect opportunity to reflect about how I could better balance being a great dad with all my other ambitions in the coming year.
I would take walks with my wife and enjoy the picturesque landscape of this coastal city covered in layers of snow. However, something interesting would happen each time I would get myself into a too relaxed state and start reflecting about the past and future: my brain would start playing interesting games with me, firing all sorts of thoughts about the million stressful things I would have to do when coming back from my vacation. Instead of feeling happy about having some quality time for myself, I caught myself feeling anxious.
Of course, these feelings didn’t make much sense to me, as there wasn’t anything that urgent to distract me from our time together. I had every opportunity to totally switch off from my daily hassles. I also knew that taking time off now would drastically enhance my productivity for the first few months of the New Year. So why spoil my vacation with this intrusion of background noise?
I really wanted to get to the root of these intruding thoughts. So during one of my massages I consciously asked myself: Why was my brain preventing me from thinking in a calm and relaxed manner? And what was making me feel so anxious?
Luckily, it didn’t take long until I started seeing some of my more invisible thoughts that were causing this invasion of my brain: And suddenly I detected the one script that was causing me all this pain and suffering. It stated a very simple message:
I AM WASTING MY TIME!
This was quite a bizarre revelation, as I had enjoyed my three best consecutive years of my life, in which I progressed on all fronts. Sure, I always strive to be more productive, and there is lots of room for improvement. In fact, I have to admit that I did give myself more quality time with my family lately. So maybe this was my brain feeling guilty?
I was gradually creating a clearer picture of this script I had inside of my head and noticed how invisibly I kept telling myself the story that successful people are always busy. I recognized this image I had of some of the people I admired- always being sought after but never really spending much time simply enjoying themselves in their private capacity.
The more I was able to slow down my thinking, the more insights I received about the content and nature of my invisible script, until suddenly it struck me: by being stressed out, and telling myself a story of how busy successful people are, I had built an ice wall that prevented me from seeing some of my most intimate dreams, like for example taking a few months off to relocate with my family to a new and adventurous place, like say Costa Rica.
In other words, living a hurried lifestyle stopped me from thinking clearly and becoming inspired to step outside my comfort zone and possibly do things that could be deemed slightly less conventional for a successful business person. This invisible script was keeping me on track to being ‘’productive’’, by sort of disassociating me from my inner self. This is why I loved juggling with multiple tasks at a time although I sensed this was never the most efficient way of getting things done.
For my first time, I noticed that becoming aware of dreams can be just as scary as discovering fears– as they both have the power to direct our lives towards unexpected territories. This was the reason why my brain was finding clever ways to hide certain thoughts from my consciousness, without me even noticing…
By unfreezing the script “I am wasting my time’’, I was finally able to stop myself from feeling stressed out and nervous when there was no reason to be anything but relaxed. This is because I gave myself permission to slow down.
This vacation has been a real breakthrough experience as I was able to not only switch off from my daily routines and enjoy my time with my family but accepted the importance of slowing down my life even when coming back to my real life. I introduced a new regular routine in which I spend around an hour to simply observe my thoughts and create space inside my head.
What invisible story is running your life?
Can you recognize any invisible story that is currently running your life, and preventing you from doing the kind of things that would make you experience more success and happiness? If not, spend some quiet time to slow down your thinking, so that you gradually become more aware of some of your hidden thoughts.
Some examples of invisible scripts could include:
– I will only be happy once I have more money.
– I should never express negative feelings.
– I can only get married once I own my own house.
Ask yourself what the one invisible story is right now that may be holding you back. If you can’t recognize it immediately, take some time to slow down your thinking, and see what happens…