Studio 5 Contributor and therapist Julie Hanks says you don’t have to travel to an exotic destination to find yourself.
Taking a year out of your life and traveling the world to rediscover yourself, like Elizabeth Gilbert in her best-selling memoir turned blockbuster movie Eat Pray Love, is hardly realistic for me and for most women I know. Yet, there is something about Liz’s quest to reconnect with herself and to rediscover her passion for life that resonates with millions of moviegoers. I believe it’s possible to continue the journey of personal development while remaining committed to family relationships, and without traveling to exotic destinations.
Tips to Eat Pray Love…at Home:
1-Venture out of your comfort zone
Liz: “I used to have this appetite for life and it’s just gone!” “I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something!” (Eat Love Pray, 2010).
If you feel numb, shut down, or on emotional “autopilot” try stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new, uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Try a new restaurant or a new sport. Extend yourself to someone outside of your circle of friends. If you like to read fiction, read non-fiction. You don’t have to travel to an exotic destination to get a new perspective on life.
Kelly O. a single 30-something professional decided to face her fears and say YES to new experiences throughout the year. Read her blog post “Unplanning Life” which highlighting 55 new firsts she’s experienced this year. kellyolivia.blogspot.com
From a man’s perspective…Steven Kapp Perry, radio host & father of 4 got out of his comfort zone by “climbing King’s Peak with my boys (twice) and I’m afraid of heights. I could go on. I think everything good about my life has come from venturing out of whatever my comfort zone used to be. It’s a lot bigger place these days.”
2-Savor your senses
Liz: “I’m having a relationship with my pizza”. This is my no Carb left behind experiment.” (Eat Love Pray, 2010).
Are you trapped in a routine of checking off tasks and making schedules? If so, try tuning into your senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. The ability to savor your own experience, no matter how small, adds dimension and increases positive feelings of pleasure. Focus on how it feels to be in your body, the wonderful smell of your favorite pizza, the warm touch of a friend’s hand on your shoulder, the beautiful sunset…
In my psychotherapy practice with women, many clients express that they have lost the enjoyment in physical intimacy. I think this is in part because they have become so good at tuning into their loved ones needs and emotions that it becomes difficult to “switch gears” and focus on their own senses; a requirement for fulfilling sexual experiences.
Liz: “Ok, Simply empty your mind. You’re going to sit here for an hour of your life and you’re not moving, why is this so hard…” (Eat Love Pray, 2010).
Focus attention solely on the present moment and acknowledge your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Take a few minutes each day to quiet your mind and see what comes up. Relaxation, meditation, yoga, prayer, and many other spiritual practices provide health and mental health benefits, and have even been shown to improve your relationships.
Jennie M., wife and mother of three boys advises: “Take time to focus on things that matter most to us and try to have a good balance. For me it is running. My husband supports me and watches our 3 boys while I go run 30 – 60 minutes. It’s my time to get out think, pray, re-focus, and have time to myself.”
4-Listen to your inner voice
Liz: “I need to change. Since I was fifteen I’ve either been with a guy or breaking up with a guy” (Eat Love Pray, 2010).
It’s easy to let the voices, needs, opinions, and expectations of others drown out your own voice, just as Liz experienced in Eat Pray Love. If your gut says you need a break, or need more time with friends, or need to rest, listen and ask for your needs to be met. Longings, dreams, thoughts and feelings are clues to what you need in order to continue your personal growth.
Jennie G., wife and stay-at-home mother of five says: “Learn to trust that inner voice. If it tells you that you really need a night out with a friend, do it! If you need to start a new book, buy one. If you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself, go serve someone else. If you want to learn something new, sign up for a class. I think each of us know what we need, we’re just too scared or not used to listening to that inner voice that will guide you to exactly what it is you need. The trick is to listen, and know that you are worth listening to!”
For additional self-improvement & relationship resources connect with me at www.juliehanks.com. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn about my therapy clinic and individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family!