The walk in the forest
My husband dropped me off in the middle of the New Forest and headed onwards to his meeting in Southampton. I was excited about the prospect of getting out in nature, something that is proven to enhance well-being, and something that I try to do as often as the fair weather walker in me permits.
I had my water and snacks, my camera of course, and I was feeling positive about the direction I was going in. Ahead of me an estimated 90 minute walk, to a lovely village where we would meet later.
No, my reliance on technology and the sat nav on my phone soon changed things for me and I got lost. I don't know how but I believe Google thought there was a path when in fact, there wasn't. As I looked on my phone I was standing on the blue line that indicated a path, but as I looked around me I was only surrounded by grassy marshland and trees. Definitely my once clear path was now a sticky swamp.
I stood for a while in my predicament until I decided to take action, any action was surely better than this, so I walked for a few miles in the wrong direction; on this route I saw birds of prey, rabbits and a single magpie. I'm not usually superstitious but this instinctively warranted a map check, which clearly indicated I was making a mistake. I turned back, finding myself on this same blue line; let's call it, the non-path to nowhere and by this point, I was starting to not be able to see the wood for the trees, quite literally.
Inspecting my map once more, with my focus on my end destination, I ignored the frantic buzzing of my phone telling me to turnaround and stand back in the shaded forest and I started to trust my instincts instead. The should's of my only travel companion were silenced and I found myself on a path, in the middle of the woods with not a person in sight and only the sounds of the birds to listen to. It was at this point I started to think about the concept of feeling lost, I thought about the should's that we put on ourselves when trying to decide the 'right' direction for us and the beauty of trusting your instincts, making mistakes and ignoring the information we are told is the best.
Did I have some doubts bordering on panic that I wouldn't make it out alive and the bears of the New Forest might find me for breakfast? Ys, a little but before I allowed myself to submit to subconscious anxiety and let the flight or fight gene take me on a fantasy ride, I let myself consider the worst case scenario. The most realistic was that I'd turn back to where I had started and begin again, perhaps this time I'd ask for support and get directions from someone who could help. Of course my mind teetered on the edge of even worse worst case scenarios, but I told myself; I am safe, I am confident, I am going the right way and I knew with absolute certainty that I was right.
As human beings we can quite often think ourselves lost; the great thing about this is that we can also choose to think ourselves out of that thought. We can feel lost, or stuck, often both, but being lost is a concept which could evoke different feelings in each of us and it is the feelings behind the thoughts that are important here. In NLP it is always about how we do the problem, rather than the problem itself. Learnt behaviour can be unlearnt, new habits can be formed, if that is something that you want.
I'm reading a book at the moment called 'The idle traveller - the art of slow travel', in which the author talks about his first travel experience where he and a friend realised they were ill-equipped in a hot country and very lost. He describes the moment he moves past the fear attached to this idea...
"We had found genuine escape and for the first time in our short lives had an inkling of what the word actually meant. Freedom from responsibility, and more pressingly, with an empty vista where a career should be on the horizon, liberation from expectation of the lives and the people we would one day become."
Which leads me nicely to the idea that those who are not lost, cannot be found. To me this means that there is some excitement in being lost because there is potential for a new beginning; but there is a fine line and a similar feeling between excitement and fear. The difference is how you think about the situation you are in and what you do about it.
To be able to trust that you are exactly where you should be right now, to appreciate what you have in this moment, internally or externally and how you have experienced the life that has led you here is an enlightening experience. To decide that it is time to focus on something more, something new and to identify a clear and positive focus and move towards the direction that is perfect for you is exactly what we are designed to do. The best way to do this, is to make sure that you are first in a resourceful state.
That means paying attention to your thoughts and feelings and knowing that you can separate the two.
It means being honest in your communication with yourself about what you specifically want and what specifically is holding you back from getting that. To decipher if the anxiety you may feel and the possible outcomes you are foreseeing are real and can be avoided by alternative action that you can take now. Envisioning what else getting all you want will give you and whether that peace, happiness, contentment, or whatever the upside may be for you, is worth it?
Always remember that the three main prerequisites of change are to focus on what you want, keep taking positive action towards getting that, and remove any negatives.
As I sat outside the cafe in the village where I had arranged to meet my husband, a little later than anticipated but with the sun on my face, the success of being here in this moment was even sweeter because I had had a moment in time where I had been lost.
Remember, be brave and be beautiful.
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About Sam Holman
Sam Holman is a qualified careers adviser and Master NLP Coach. She specialises in personal breakthrough programmes, teaching you tools to remove and unlearn any old habits that have held you back in the past, so that you can confidently set your goals and gain complete clarity on what you really want and are capable of achieving.