Another New Year has arrived, and with it those promises to self of this year being the year you tackle unwanted habits, health issues, your job, your relationship… An article published in Thrive Global recently suggested that the key to making resolutions that stick is self-awareness and being aligned with what you really want. Makes sense, who doesn’t want to feel aligned? However, the lasting change we seek can be incredibly hard as our culture and lifestyles make it virtually impossible to separate our “wants” from the “shoulds”.
Every day our minds are assaulted with marketing messages from social media, TV, radio, posters. The promise of that better you, achievable if you only buy that new outfit, get a new car, join the gym, get plastic surgery… we’re constantly plugged in to a digital world of judgement and choice. It’s no wonder we struggle to connect with ourselves and our own wants and needs when the media machine just wants us to feel bad so we can buy more and instantly feel happy. It doesn’t work, at least not in the long term.
So, what does it mean to ‘retreat’ and why is it important to our health and wellbeing?
There are many dictionary definitions, but these struck a chord with me:
“To go away from a place or person in order to escape from fighting or danger”
“To go to a quiet safe place in order to avoid a difficult situation”
“To save yourself, you sometimes need to retreat from the world”
“A retreat is a quiet, isolated place that you go to in order to rest or to do things in private”
As I was reading these I related to how we live in today’s world, many of us in a constant state of fight or flight, fighting imaginary battles in our minds, looking for refuge in distractions such as work, social media, shopping, eating. Struggling with the overwhelming array of choices and decisions. And it’s having a profound effect on our ability to think and act in ways which align with our inner wants and needs.
So, am I suggesting that retreating is all about escaping and not facing up to your challenges? Not at all, in fact it depends how you frame it. Let’s look at it another way….
“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction”.
Douglas McArthur, American General.
So how do you know when you are disconnected from yourself and need to ‘retreat’ from your life and find your new direction? Here are 5 signs.
1. You’re tired and overwhelmed
You feel constantly anxious and exhausted. Your health is getting you down, and you’re suffering with unexplained headaches or a lack of sleep. Maybe you feel over emotional and tearful, frustrated you can’t seem to make decisions or quiet that inner critic.
2. You’ve lost your way
We all need a sense of purpose to feel fulfilled, and sometimes it can feel as if you are going in the wrong direction. Maybe your life looks OK on the outside, but on the inside you feel lost or confused. Everything just feels a little off, like only part of you is showing up on auto pilot and the other part is confused and wandering around aimlessly.