Recently I was reflecting on how much I have changed my life over the last 6 years. It amazes me how different my life is now.
I still feel like a work in progress and I probably always will be. I want to continually strive to create the best possible life for myself. I’ve spent far too much of my life putting someone else’s feelings or opinions before my own.
That is a lot easier said than done though. Most people are built to want to make other people happy. It could be your family, your partner, a friend or your boss. Whoever it is, ask yourself this “Is their happiness more important than mine?” and take it from there. Learning how to put yourself first can be tough, but it’s totally doable!
My Life Needed A Big Change
At the start of 2014, I was unhappily married and working in a job I really didn’t enjoy. I was controlling my weight by calories counting which sucked and I still didn’t feel slim and attractive. My husband constantly made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.
This drove me to try to prove my worth to him over and over again. My feelings were irrelevant as long as I made him happy. His happiness was my priority. No that’s not strictly true, his annoyance at my very existence was something I wanted to reduce as much as possible. I hoped he would finally be happy with me if I changed enough.
My marriage wasn’t healthy, it was abusive but I didn’t realise that at the time. I knew I felt controlled and manipulated but he hadn’t actually hit me so I thought I was lucky.
He regularly told me that I wouldn’t survive without him. I was constantly told that I wasn’t ‘normal’ and that everything wrong with our relationship was my fault. If I changed then our relationship would be better. He never took any responsibility for his part in it.
A Single Question That Changed My Life
One day I was asked a question that blew my mind and started me on my new journey. I’d commented that I just wanted to be happy and the question I was asked was “what does happy look like for you?”
A little voice in the back of my head said “not being with him”. ‘Him’ was my husband. Something told me not to ignore that voice. I had to keep it fresh in my head and to act on it. That voice had forced its way to the surface and slapped me back into reality for a reason. I knew I had to cling onto it for dear life.
Fast forward a couple of months and I had found a house to rent with my dog and moved out of the marital home. I took my personal belongings and my armchair, I left everything else. I didn’t need it, I just needed me and my dog.
At first I felt free and excited to start my new life but slowly I realised I didn’t have a clue who I was or what I wanted from life. How do I change my life and be happy when I don’t even know what I want from it?
I looked externally for a solution. I wasn’t happy in my job so I found a new one. Within a couple of months I wasn’t happy in that one either, I liked most of my colleagues but the actual job bored me to tears. I didn’t feel like I could change jobs again so quickly and decided to stick it out.
I only had a couple of good friends as my husband didn’t allow it while I was with him. He always knew where I was and would question me about everything so it wasn’t as though I could go behind his back without major consequences. And I was too afraid of what they would be to even try.
I wanted to do something to keep active but I didn’t have any spare money to go to classes. I also didn’t want to go on my own as my confidence was rock bottom still. A quick Google search later and I had found Couch to 5K. The voice in my head shouted “Yes!”. I decided to become a runner!
Within a few months I was fitter, had stopped calorie counting and started eating healthier. I was running a few times a week so allowed myself to eat cake and chocolate again. I somehow found the courage to join a running club and made a few new friends.
Starting To Love Life Again
My life was beginning to take shape. I loved my new hobby and the friends it had brought to me. That voice still kept popping up though, it kept reminding me that I wasn’t happy with my chosen career.
I was miserable every day that I had to get up and go to work. Some days it would even bring me to tears. I just couldn’t see how to change it.
By this point I’d been a runner for a couple of years and was training for my first marathon when I got injured. I went straight to physiotherapy and was fascinated by it all. I used to dream that I was actually a physiotherapist and helping other athletes with their goals.
Being in a rented house and needing a full-time income meant becoming a physiotherapist wasn’t an option. A friend suggested I look into sports massage instead. I found a course that I could do by taking annual leave from work as well as studying at home during evenings and weekends. I had no excuse and was not going to let my lack of self-esteem stop me.
Just over six months later I was qualified and setting up my own business! Again, listening to that voice had changed my life.
Turn Up The Volume
That voice has been part of me for most of my life but I don’t give it the volume it deserves. I ignored it for so long until it screamed those 4 words to me “not being with him!”. That voice is how I changed my life.
Since then I try to listen to it as much as possible. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve ignored it so many times even when I knew I shouldn’t. I’ve allowed fear and doubt in my abilities to convince me that the voice was wrong. So far it hasn’t been wrong. Once I realise that, I always wish I’d listened sooner.
So now, if I feel angry, frustrated or lost, I know that my life is going down the wrong path and I need to adjust. I give myself time to just sit and wait for that voice to pop up again. I ask myself “what am I not doing for myself right now that I clearly need?”.
It doesn’t always work, sometimes I’m left hanging. That voice usually pops up when I least expect it and can’t be forced. I’ve learnt to give myself time and wait for the voice to show me. It has changed my life in the past and will do again.
Over To You…
Do you find yourself wondering “how can I change my life for the better?” What keeps popping into your head that you squash back down again? Is there something in your career that you think you’d like to do but don’t have the courage to try? Did you have a hobby when you were younger that you wish you could start again but don’t?
Whatever it is, you need to listen to it. At least enquire into what you need to do to make it possible. You’ll never know until you try. I’ve learnt the hard way that squashing the voice down only leads me to a bad place. That voice is my instinct trying to show me the right way. Every time I’ve ignored it, I’ve regretted it. Every time I’ve listened, my life has changed for the better.
I’d love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment below or drop me a message. Tell me what your voice keeps saying to you and how you think you can listen to it. Or if you feel stuck and just need someone to bounce ideas off then I’ll here for you! Don’t be shy!
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