How often do you hear people complaining: ‘There’s something missing in my life. If only I knew what it was, I could do something about it’? Perhaps you think those kind of thoughts yourself. As a life coach, I certainly come across it regularly when new clients come to me, searching for a way forward in a life that’s become somehow meaningless and dull for them.
The usual reflex response is to buy expensive new toys and to experiment with increasingly extreme new experiences. This behaviour pattern follows the reasoning that the more you try out, the more likely your are to find that one special thing which will make the difference. But does the reasoning actually make sense? In most cases I don’t believe that it does.
My reasoning goes like this… If you feel there’s something missing in your life, then you’ve probably lost some (or all) of your connection to the activities, values and people that give meaning to your life. These meaningful elements of your life are part of you, they’re deep within you. So to try to reconnect with them by experimenting with an increasing number of new experiences, each of which you stick with for less and less time because they don’t deliver what you’re looking for, is a rather disheartening waste of time and effort.
So instead of trying harder and harder to find that elusive je ne sais quoi, what you really need to do is to slow down, calm down and allow yourself to take breath. Know that the missing something can’t be found by external efforting or searching.
My favourite quote from Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s book The Invitation is this: “It is not the being, not even the doing that exhausts. It is the trying”. In this world where self-made success is championed so strongly, we’re constantly being encouraged to try harder. And yes, of course there are times when it’s absolutely right to try new things and to push yourself to new achievements. Those right times are when you feel energised by your efforts.
But when you feel drained, and when you’re pushing yourself hard because you don’t know what else to do, that’s the time to stop trying. By stopping, you’ll be more likely to hear the quiet voice of your creativity suggesting a way forward. You may need to rest for a while before it makes itself heard, but by giving it space, you’ll be heading back onto the right track.
By the same token, rather than gathering new possessions, why not try some decluttering? Clear out all the old items blocking your space and you’ll feel lighter, liberated, a sense of space and opportunity. The reality is that the harder you search for the missing something, the more elusive it will become. But if you clear the space, it will reveal itself willingly.
Paradoxically when there’s something missing, it’s most likely not something more that you’re looking for at all. You’re probably not looking to fill a space but to create one.
- Do you know (or suspect) that you’re trying too hard at something?
- Are you prepared to stop trying, to go with the flow, and see where it takes you?
- What can you declutter, creating space for your wellbeing and success to flourish?