The first week in January felt as though everywhere I looked people were telling me what I should do.
Any magazine I opened confronted me with diets, exercise and mindfulness practices, guaranteed to dramatically change my life.
I have always been a bit of a self-development junkie, so there was part of me thinking ‘ooh maybe there will be something interesting that I don’t know that really will improve my life.’
Meanwhile, another part of me was saying ‘give me a break, I’ve just got through a busy Christmas and to be honest I am still feeling pretty tired. The thought of changing anything or pumping myself up to be a better version of myself feels completely draining.’
I noticed that I could be frustrated by all these messages, but then wondered if I was being hypocritical as Fresh Air Fridays is absolutely designed to help people lead their best lives. I wondered why I was comfortable with the things we talk about and not so comfortable with the headlines leaping out at me from papers, magazines and every social media channel.
The difference is simple: it’s useful to understand situations and strategies other people have experienced however no-one knows exactly what it’s like for me, except me.
It is helpful to read or hear about people going through similar circumstances to me, with similar joys and challenges, but they almost certainly don’t have my beliefs and feelings.
What we are passionate about at Fresh Air Fridays is creating the space and support for people to really hear themselves, allowing them to figure things out and make changes for themselves. We have all the answers we need – we most often just need the space and time to find them. Decisions made purely by us, are always the best decisions.
I am currently reading the book “Beautiful Boy”, which is now also a film. It is the true story told by the father of a son who becomes addicted to Meth. The story describes the awful rollercoaster ride, the tragic behaviour and loss, the hopes and the highs of recovery. Just when you think everything is going well the story plunges back into relapse.
It is a very honest and raw book and it has been cathartic for me to read about the emotional journey of the author. I notice how much I am able to take from his experiences. I know that my circumstances are very different and yet as I hear how he relates to his feelings I can see ripples of that in my own life. The story is helping me frame some of my own thoughts and actions.
The other thing that stands out for me from the book is the way in which an addict needs so much support to stay sober. It is essential for the son to use effective strategies so that he isn’t tempted by the strong voices in his head. Not only does he need strategies for what he does and how he behaves, but he also needs people around him that support and nudge him to do those things. Whilst recognising that I’m not in the same situation, I can see how I also need strategies to live the life I want to lead and need people around me to hold me accountable.
So, if you are like me and don’t like to be told what to do, if you would like the space to create the life that’s right for you, if you would like to hear other people’s stories to help you make sense of your own life, if you would like to have strategies that work for you, I want to tell you that Fresh Air Fridays provides all those things for me and many others.
If it sounds or feels right to you come out and play with us sometime – you can find details of our community sessions here.