Recently I attended a few courses online with the Open University Future Learn Programme, it is quite a masterpiece of a platform for teaching or should I say tutoring. There is the option to taste the experience of an education online, and there is also the option to progress your knowledge and awareness into key accredited skills. How superb is that? One of the courses I attended was “Self-Awareness Coaching” and little did I realise that the worksheets with the Life Lab combined with the online course offered a paralleled approach: reflective self-awareness tools.
What have I learned?
I am quite comfortable in my own beliefs, although I had never really given my own core values a great deal of thought. I was always too busy helping others to take the time out to understand myself. When I highlighted I had an inner-voice and offered it as a caricature, I began to wonder if I was losing the plot? Do we really need to give our inner voices a face? A vision of Shakespeare's Hamlet springs to mind. Is that face a dramatization of the self? As usual when I choose to explore the inner workings I find myself growing frustrated, because the dramas in life are often what prevent the opportunity for real progress.
This is as good a time as any to mention my very dear friend Vanessa, she visited today, it is the school holidays (Easter 2018), she is a teacher and free to catch up with life outside of her career. We have been friends for forty years, which is quite a milestone, and we have shared so much of our lives with one another, but at the end of every catch up we return to our own lives and can’t predict what the future might bring. We just ensure we are there for one another through the ups and the downs, and the balanced moments. I mention Vanessa because she is a very dear friend and connection, and since exploring the inner self with the psychologies life lab worksheets and the Open University, I for the first time, shared something with her that I knew she would disagree with. She has her beliefs and now I have found mine.
I have a lot to thank Vanessa for. Without Vanessa in my young adult life, I may never have learned to drive, she encouraged me, when neither my mother, or elder sister drove, nor my aunts, only uncles and fathers. At the time, I wondered why she wanted to drive? She chose to drive for herself. I thought: well if she can do that, so can I. I did! She knew I wanted to be a Writer back then, so encouraged that I become a Teacher, motivating me to go to college. This was at a time when my family didn’t see any benefit in achieving a degree, I wasn't middle class, it would serve no purpose. It was tough, and Vanessa couldn’t be there with me all of the time, and my environment offered little support. I didn’t have enough self-belief, and I couldn’t cope with the conflicts that college life brought to my time at home, so I gave up (1990s).
Vanessa didn’t give up on me, she supported me through the many paths I chose to walk. She has been there through the highs and the lows, she listens, we talk, I listen. Our conversations highlight what a drama life can be, but we have each other’s back if we need it, or not, and that is important. The difference between Vanessa and I is that she always focused upon one goal, when I was open to whatever opportunities were offered.
So, in telling my friend something recently that I knew she wouldn’t agree with - I was worried. I anticipated a drama. She may try to persuade me to change my mind. She would offer an alternate perspective that would make me question myself. My wonderful friend V always seems to make the right choices, and I until recently always went with the wild-card.
Today, I don’t feel wild, I am just choosing to make the choices for myself, I feel independent and I feel ready to stand up for my own beliefs. I shared my thoughts with her, and although she did feel I was making the wrong choice, we debated, we offered personal insights, and we decided that it is sometimes okay to disagree. Although, her insights did niggle and will play around in my subconscious for a while to come, because I may not agree with her now, but I maybe will in the future.
We all learn for ourselves at different stages in our lives and that is something I now appreciate.
I appreciate and am very grateful to have Vanessa in my life. I am grateful for having the opportunity to share these thoughts with you today, thanks to the Psychologies Life Labs, and I fully appreciate that connections, limitations, judgements and de-cluttering are all tests sent to us, to give us the opportunity to make a life that is amazing for ourselves.
After our chat today, we talked about decluttering, letting go of memories that no longer serve a purpose, letting go of clothes that no longer fit. I reminded her of the Diary of Anne Frank when she was in hiding and only wore the clothes that she could carry on her back, which made us both appreciate how lucky we are to live in the UK today where we presently have a choice.
Vanessa, she set off home to do a little decluttering. I, continue my thirty-day challenge and today I feel a sense of relief. I feel self-aware. I feel happy because we, my friend and I, are growing older together, sharing ideas, sharing stories that may help one another when we return to our own lives. We are not alone, never alone, because of our connection and appreciation that we each have our own lives to live.
What will clarity reveal at the end of the decluttering? I'll let you know.
Poster image is a Pexel Photo.