An A-Z for your life – introduction

December 30, 2012

For the new year, I’ve decided to put the whole of my first book, An A-Z for your life, on this blog. I’ll be adding chapters to the blog on a regular basis, until the whole book is on Living Being Doing. Here’s the first entry – my introduction:

Where I am today

I have come to a point in my life where I am trying to be truly who I am, how I was created.  I am trying to live authentically and be true to myself.  That is not as selfish or as self-conscious as it sounds because it frees me up to be real with people and respond to them honestly.  Most of us respond to others as though everyone is like us but if we spend time understanding ourselves we will realise that we are truly unique.

Once I started to explore my inner world I found I became less scared of the world and more confident of my own ability to cope with the world.   It also allows me to be connected to my values and be honest with myself.  Although it seems counter-intuitive, such time spent understanding myself helps me to have time and patience in trying to understand others.  What is good for me is good for them too.  When I feel comfortable in my own skin then life is exciting, spontaneous, meaningful and rich.  It is not about being self-conscious but being aware of the impact I have on others and they have on me.  It is about me trying to be my best self and live in community as a fellow human being with all my gifts and flaws.

I feel I am on a continuous learning cycle in my journey of life.  One lesson gives way to another and there is always something new to understand, embrace and reflect on.  I have changed countries and changed careers yet whilst some parts of me have changed and grown other parts remain as they were in my youth.

We absorb things from our parents and early environment and we don’t realise what we have picked up until we come up against people who have had a completely different start in life.  They think, feel and behave differently from us.

I used to be very shy.  Through faith, friendship and therapy I have become more relaxed in my life.  I can still be shy but it feels different.

Why read this book?

I am sharing this with you in the hope that you value your time here on earth and have a desire to be on your own unique path.  There are some questions that we all need to look at to help us live our best life.  These questions could be addressed consciously.

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By reading this you will begin to make your personal outlook more visible to yourself and as a result you will feel more secure in who and how you are.  This allows you to become sure of what you think and feel, or to admit that you do not know and begin to explore possible answers.  The answers are only important to you and no one will be checking up on you.  The alternative is to go through life never knowing who you are, what you do and why you do it.  You could live a long life and then wonder what you did with your time.  You could find yourself unhappy in later life and wonder where it all went wrong.  Or you could start now and make the best use of the time you have left.

Modern life has become much more complex than it was. Lifestyle is no longer a fixed idea but something we need to make choices about.  The world offers so many different ways of existing that we need to decide what kind of life we would like to have.  Work, family and relationships are all being redefined and you need to know what it means to you.  Is it about making money or being an activist?  Are friends more like family to you and can you have more than one home?  These are just a few of the questions this book will raise in your mind.

What this book offers

This book can help you to stand back from your life and take an objective look at it.  It does not tell you what sort of life you should have.  It just encourages you to become aware of the life that you are living.  If you are aware then you can make changes or you can try to stop changes.  Either way, awareness helps.

Most of us leave home without ever thinking about the life we want in the world.  Often we use our parents as examples of what we do or do not want to achieve.  But to base our whole life on copying or rejecting seems so random.  Surely it’s worth having a broader approach and more examples to choose from.  Through biographies, blogs and other media we have access to the lives of many people.  They can be seen as encouraging examples or role models for different aspects of our lives.  This is not about copying anyone but seeing a range of what is possible.  I am not talking of money and fame but personal attributes like dedication and the modern phenomenon: work-life balance.

At this stage in your life you may be going through a transition from one way of being to another.  It could be that this is triggered by: moving home, a new significant relationship, changing the makeup of your household, a new job or training endeavour or changes in what you are physically able to do.  It may feel like you have been here before or it might feel completely new.  Whatever the case, this book will help you to look at things anew.

Congratulations for being brave enough to pick up this book.  You obviously value your life and you wish to live it with awareness.  You are open to exploring who you are now and who you might become in the future.  This book is only a gentle start and there are many other ways of exploring who you are.  It is never about fitting in to someone’s idea of who you should be but about going deeper within yourself to discover the beautiful and unique person you were created to be.

‘You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.’

Matthew chapter 5 verses 14-16 in the Bible (New International Version).

How to use this book

This book came to me as a clear idea in one of my most creative moments.  I have organised it alphabetically because that was the way in which I managed my thinking process at the time.  Anything else feels overly structured and artificial.

Each letter of the alphabet covers some aspect of life that I feel is important.  If you got to the end of your years and no one mentioned love to you then you will be very disappointed.  You may decide it is too much work to explore your life, or that you will get around to it when you are older, but wouldn’t it be great to spend the time now so that you can have an impact on your future direction in the world?  Part of me wishes someone had given me this book when I was in my twenties.

Although I have written the book as a coherent whole I suggest you read small chunks at a time.  Don’t feel the need to read it in one sitting as that can feel quite overwhelming. You may just want to see what areas it covers and then work on these areas gradually.  You do not have to work on all areas at once.  You can discuss this with people you care about and see if they’ve reflected on these things.  You can read around the areas highlighted and come to your own conclusions.  However you approach this topic, your life will demonstrate what you think, feel and do. Whatever decisions you make now will affect you and those close to you, now and in the future.

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You can see each letter as a section and read a section at a time.  Some letters have more items than others because there were things I thought I had to include if this book is going to be of any use.  At the opposite end I found it challenging to think of an essential life perspective which begins with X or Z!  There were more things I could include overall but then it would be a much bigger and more complex book.  I’d happily write that one next.

For each topic, reflect on what it means to you, why it means that and how your life supports what you believe.  Is there a balance in your approach towards this thing or is it skewed in one direction?  Who in your life – close or distant – can be an example in this area? How would you like this part of your life to develop over time?

I have provided some questions to begin your reflections and given you some space to jot down initial responses.  Any or all of these could be followed up with reading, discussion and therapy.  It is up to you what you decide to do next.

Take time out.  Read slowly. Leave space between the topics to allow them to breathe in you.  Take what will help.  Leave what will not.  You choose which aspects of your life you wish to explore and for how long.  I often think that life is about learning something new, being affected by it and responding to it.   This book could be helpful wherever you are in your journey.  What happens next is up to YOU.

For future instalments, you can subscribe to Living Being Doing either by email or by RSS using the boxes on the top right of this page. An A-Z for your life is now available for Kindle from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

 

Shirley

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Shirley Anstis is a counsellor, author and editor with an interest in wellbeing in body, mind and soul. A place to share insights, findings and reviews to help us live happier and more fulfilled lives as we remember to be living beings, not just doing beings