Composing a New Life
Many of us expect the year ahead to be mostly the same. A little upgrade here, a little refinement there. A speeding up here, a slowing down there. But all in all, we think our lives are going to remain stable. Which is fine. One does not need to “race to the top” or “become a new you,” even if magazine headlines blare out that message.
For others, however, this will indeed be a year in which their lives are profoundly altered. Why? Because a major change will take place with their health, relationships, children, work.
What does a person go through when she realizes that from now on, it’s all going to be different?
How does a person adjust when he recognizes that the rhythms of his life will never be the same?
All too often, people seek to hold on to the continuity of their lives, even when they recognize that it’s deeply flawed.
Maria will not consent to a divorce even though she knows that her husband is involved with another woman. John will not leave his family business, even though he is trashed on daily by his father and uncle. If people were not so fearful, if the risks didn’t loom so large, people could more easily figure out a way to move forward in life. And for some, this is that year.
Maria is finally ready to compose a new life for herself. Much like a battered child, she has stayed way too long in her marriage because she didn’t know what else to do, where else to go, how else to live. “I’m a wife and a mom,” she’d proclaim. “I don’t know what else to be. Besides, I’d be so lonely without my husband.”
Now Maria recognizes how lonely she’s been with her husband. She knows now that she needs to compose a wider life, a fuller life, a richer life. She knows that is not going to happen right away. She must go out into the world and find her place. Not easy. There are moments of panic, moments of retreat.
But there are better moments too. There are moments of forging new relationships, learning new skills. Indeed, Maria is now looking forward to what the new year will bring. Rather than obsessing about how difficult life will be, she’s viewing life as an improv show , recognizing that she needs to develop the skills to think on her feet, respond in the moment and maintain a sense of humor.
John is threatening to leave the family business. He has made up his mind that he will no longer take the abuse. He has conflicting thoughts. Though yes, it’s a family business that he “should” be a part of. But no, he shouldn’t have to deal with the daily tension and stress that’s affecting his health and marriage.
First, John will see if he can restructure his role in the business to make it less stressful. If he can’t, he will leave with skills and strategies in hand. He has a lifetime of productivity still ahead of him and though it’s scary, he’s looking forward to composing a better life for himself in the year ahead. Will it be easy? No. Will it be worthwhile? John is betting on it for he doesn’t want to look back 20 years from now and say, “I should have….”
Now what about you?
Is it okay for your life to go on as is because all is working rather well? If so, great.
If not, let this be the year you compose a life for yourself that you can be pleased with and proud of.
Linda is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.