On life

The five golden rules of soul-searching

Do you ever feel lost? Unsure about where you’re going, or what you should be doing? Are you doing a lot of soul-searching but still feel kind of ‘stuck’? Keep calm and follow these five simple rules to get through it (because you will).

1. Enjoy

This rule is very important and often overlooked: enjoy this time. It might never come round again. Be proud of the fact that you aren’t easily satisfied and want to get the most out of life. Be grateful for what you already have and how far you’ve come and take pride in the fact that you aren’t done growing and learning. You can still be happy while at the same time wanting more out of life. Happiness does not mean you stop growing, stand still or are done learning. Happiness moves you towards other great things. So: stop beating yourself up with thoughts like “I am a loser” and “I have no passion” and instead enjoy your soul-searching, uncertainty and self-doubt. It’s temporary and is guaranteed to get you somewhere new.

2. Let it go

Stop focusing so much on the fact that you are in doubt. Stop punishing yourself for not knowing which direction to take. Imagine being 100% satisfied with where you are: where’s the fun in that? Life is (and should be) about learning new things, growing and becoming a better person than you were the day before. This requires a lot of time and energy. Just accept that it does and LET IT GO. Things always start to happen when you stop trying to control everything.

3. Do stuff

Overthinking never helped anyone. Just trust Anthony Hopkins on this:

“We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It’s a death trap”

Exactly! Stop.Thinking. Get out of your head, and go do random stuff. If you don’t know what you want to be, or do, the trick is to do as many random things as you can. If you don’t have a passion for work, or if you’re in a corporate job you hate and want to do something more creative, go do it! Take classes, workshops, trainings, whatever is going on near you. It doesn’t matter whether you think it will help you, or bring you something, or whether it ‘fits’ with who you think you are. Stop thinking. Do stuff! As much as possible. You’ll never know what you want to do until you’ve tried absolutely everything.

4. Cancel out the noise

Don’t listen to other people. They don’t know what you really want. You have all the answers. Often we get distracted by what people think, or say, especially if it’s people who we know, love and respect. It’s fine to listen to their opinions, but in the end the only one who knows what you really want is you. So cancel out everyone else – and this includes everyone in the digital world as well. Switch off your phone, meditate, turn on some music, take a walk by yourself and allow yourself to feel. What comes up? What immediately sparks your imagination? You’ll never know what’s inside you unless you allow yourself to be quiet – at least a few minutes a day – and listen to yourself. The most important relationship you have is the one you have with yourself and the unhappiest people are the ones who listen to everybody else before themselves (boldly stated of course).

5. Trust yourself

Most importantly: trust yourself. Trust that you have the answers and that your worst fears are only in your head. You (most likely) won’t end up homeless, or miserable, or fiercely judged or off the rails. Soul-searching is a period of transition between your old life and a new (much more exciting) one. Accept that it’s uncomfortable and trust that you’ll come out a better person in the end.  You’ve gotten this far in life, you’ll get through the next phase too. Be proud of the fact that you want more and trust that this is a sign that it will happen.

I’ve had many periods of soul-searching in my life (already) and these are the ‘golden rules’ I’ve learned. They are also a reminder to myself, because I tend to forget them just like everyone else. Writing them down is very helpful to me, and hopefully to you as well. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find “my passion” but as long as I’m learning new things, I’m happy. Of course, if you have any other rules that have helped you through an uncertain time, please share them in the comments!

Emmelyn X

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