What is it that just makes us give up, whether it’s a relationship, a diet or a new project? I’ve had to ask myself this many times over the years. Is it because we get bored, do we lose interest? Or is it simply because you can’t be bothered?
As a child, I used to swim, every single day (bar Winter) I swam 5km’s, 100 Olympic sized pool laps and I loved every single minute of it. Pushing my muscles to the extreme, my body flowing in and with the water felt fantastic. I swam whether it was cold, hot or raining, whenever, it didn’t matter. I couldn’t wait to get home after school to change and go to the pool. After practise I would get home feeling very hungry and very cold, but very satisfied. I still remember getting into the shower the minute I got home, we had one of those showers over the bath, so I would put the plug into the bath, stand under the shower and once enough water was in the bath, I would lie down and languor whilst the hot water returned all feeling to my limbs, it was bliss. I always felt at a loss when the pool closed for the Winter, I played other sports like netball but none of them appealed to me much and none of them I loved as much as I loved swimming.
It was however not to last, the day came when everything changed. One day at a swim meet out of town, I broke a world record in backstroke and sadly the only person there to celebrate and share that moment with me, was my coach. Looking back I recall feeling so incredibly disappointed. In that moment, as a child, I led myself to believe that my swimming was not important enough for my parents to be there. Shortly after my record breaking event, my parents were transferred to another city, actually just outside the city in the country. My new school did not have a swimming team and my parents felt that it was too far to drive into the city to find a team that I could join. As a child, your parents have control over your life so I accepted their reasoning but it left me feeling incredibly sad.
A few years later, I found out about a team in the city that I could join and persuaded my mom to drive me. I was excited but felt really nervous as well, I had not swam for a few years, so I was out of practise. Also, it was a new pool, it was indoors and very humid and stuffy but wanting to impress the coach, I let him push me harder than I could bear. I got out of the pool that day shaking all over, I could barely stand upright, my head was spinning from being over oxygenated and I proceeded to puke my lungs out. We drove home, I felt awful and defeated. Never before had I ever felt like that when I trained and I did not want to feel like that again! I believed I no longer had it in me, it all just felt too hard, so I told my mom that I was not going back. Unfortunately she said, okay, no pep talk, no ‘it will get better’ speech, just okay! As a child, I seldom argued with her and in that moment, it was all over, the one thing that previously was effortless for me to do and something which had given me great joy, was gone.
Subsequently over the years, I have battled to follow through on other projects, boredom set in, fear set in, and at times it just felt too hard. The biggest reason for me quitting on anything was that I believed I had no control over it. I have given up on relationships, projects, sports, ideas, you name it, I would get all excited about it and then I just give it up and then proceed to justify my actions to myself and to others, coming up with all sorts of excuses. It didn’t suit me, I expected it to be something else, I didn’t like it, it was too cold, it was too hard, it made my back hurt, it’s raining outside, the sky is too grey, it’s miserable, blah blah blah, I even blamed others, my husband won’t listen, he won’t change, he was this, she was that. I have thought of, and used, them all. And….. even though I thought I had justified it all, I would still beat myself up about it, telling myself what a failure I was, if only I had tried this or if only I had done it that way, then maybe it would have worked out. Until one day I realised what it was that made me not quit.
I realised that when something was part of my purpose, i.e. my heart’s desire versus my intellect or ego’s desire that I did not quit. I realised that when I was following my heart, I naturally and miraculously had the drive, the energy and the motivation to do what I loved. It just came from within and carried me through. In fact, it had me bouncing out of bed in the morning’s excited to greet the day.
My Love Life on Purpose
Before I met my husband Paul, who is the absolute love of my life, words cannot express how much I love and appreciate that man, I had many relationships and when they got really tough, I simply ended them. All except for my first marriage, that relationship for me was very very hard to leave. He was my first adult love, he fathered my two children and for years after the divorce I still loved him. I kept hoping that things would change and that we would get back together, but I finally had to let it go. I had no control over the reasons the relationship failed and I couldn’t fix it, so I needed to let it go.
But when I met Paul, it was different. There were times that our relationship was hard, I had moved from South Africa to be with him and emigrating was far harder than I had ever expected. Adjusting to another culture, another lifestyle, another climate, there were many times that I could easily have just got on the first plane back to South Africa. In fact my husband lived in fear that I would! But……. what kept me committed to our relationship was the deep knowing that he was my soul mate, that he was what my heart desired. And that no matter what happened; I was willing to do the work, to do whatever it took. Slowly but surely as he got rid of his fear of me leaving, he too committed and together we became 1000% committed to each other and to our relationship. When times were tough, we reminded each other of our commitment and it paid off. Today, we are happier and more in love than ever. Our relationship just flows; it’s beautiful and very fulfilling. We are more loved-up now than we were in that honeymoon phase when we met in December 2010.
My Life’s Work on Purpose
When I still lived in South Africa, the first book I ever wrote was called The Relationship Magnet. It was an autobiography as well as a self help book about relationships. I had been in no less than 3 abusive relationships and when I finally woke up to the fact that I kept attracting the same kind of partner over and over, I wrote a book about it. It was released during the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence and it became the talk of the country. I had sent out a press release about it being published and it all just snowballed. I was featured on TV, on the news, various TV programmes, in newspapers, magazines and on the radio. I was speaking at events all over the country. Everyone wanted to hear what I had to say. It all just happened! I was getting calls and emails from women at all hours of the day and night thanking me for speaking out, for giving them the courage to change their lives and their relationships. It was heart-warming and also heartbreaking realising just how many women were in similar relationships. I also received quite a bit of criticism, mostly from men who perceived that what I had to say was an attack on them, I was even verbally attacked on the radio by someone who called in. But, somehow it just didn’t matter, I carried on, I had this incredible inner strength and courage that carried me forward. I was committed and deep within my soul I just knew that I was meant to be doing what I was doing. I knew that my voice on behalf of other women was needed, that I represented what was possible for them.
Until one day it all stop….I allowed fear to step in. I got bullied and manipulated into removing my book from the market and to stop speaking out. I even went so far as to contact every single website, every newspaper, every magazine and even google to remove every bit of information from the internet that featured me, my books or my talks. It was time consuming and it was painful, even though I thought I was doing it for the right reasons, I felt defeated, I felt sad. My loving husband stood by shaking his head, he was upset and disappointed that I was allowing someone else to control my destiny and my life. My courage and maverick spirit was one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place, but he supported my decision regardless.
The following years I fumbled along, trying this, trying that, getting a job, doing work for Relate, trying new things, burying my head, writing children’s books, republishing my parenting book. I took the route I felt was safe, but my heart felt empty, I had lost my drive and my commitment was gone. I had even lost my mojo, my life felt like a struggle, a chore. The magic of my life had disappeared and I no longer was I manifesting work, money nor clients.
Things were about to change
And then….. at the beginning of this year, I had a massive melt down. A total utter nervous breakdown and whilst having that breakdown, too tired to walk or stand up straight, sobbing uncontrollably, snot and tears running down my face whilst screaming at my husband, I had a moment of clarity. I had given my power away, my purpose, my soul’s desire. I had completely handed over control of my life to others. In that moment standing in the kitchen, I realised that the time had come to take back control, to take my power back. I collapsed into my husbands arms and said ‘never ever again will I allow myself to get to this point, never ever will I allow anyone else to control my destiny nor my life’. He held me so tightly and said, ‘and never ever again will I allow you to let that happen.’ That day I took back control and amidst the snot and tears, I knew that I had just had a major breakthrough.
I went away alone for two weeks to our holiday place in Tenerife so my body, emotions and mind could recover. Three days in and my heart started talking to me again. My soul’s longing and desire returned to me with a vengeance, to write, to speak to educate and to travel. I ran out and bought a few notebooks and started writing again, the words simply flowed out of my pen and onto the pages. I was back, back to my bliss of writing, wanting to share my story, share what I had learned in order to help others to do the same.
I returned back to the UK and I immediately had a few ‘blips’. I had started some projects before I went away that I felt obligated to finish, I had spent so much time and so much money on them that I felt I could not waste it and that I just had to finish what I had started. Every now and then I would let myself off the hook and return to writing my new book and whenever I did, it felt so great. It felt like I was on holiday, I felt free! It felt so damn good that I felt guilty about it feeling good! I felt guilty for having fun! Thankfully I recognised what was going on, I was allowing someone else’s voice, in my head, a voice that we have all heard over the years, that anonymous voice that tells you work is meant to be hard and I was listening to it!
Well I had news for that voice, I brought it out of the shadows and into the light and zapped it! There was no way I was going to let that little gremlin rob me from my joy, from my heart’s desire. I zapped some more gremlins along the way (just like in the Gremlin movie, I would turn the light on, deal with them and shrivel them up to nothingness) and today, I am back to my bliss and I am loving it.
You see, when you follow your heart, you follow your purpose and your life flows. It feels good. The universe flings its doors open and everything becomes easier, less restricted, less constricted. When you are not following your heart, life feels constricted, it feels like hard work and not only does it affect your sense of happiness and your emotions but often if affects your body. You become fatigued, depressed, sick, unfit, fat, all symptoms to try and slow you down so you will listen and pay attention! To listen to what your heart is trying to tell you. Every single one of us is on this planet to experience joy, pure unadulterated joy and if that is not happening for you with your work and your relationships, then you are off track, you are not listening to your heart.
If doors are shutting for you right now, if you are not getting that job, nor those clients you want, is it possible that you are doing something you think you should be doing versus what you want to be doing?
A question that I have used over the years to keep me on track and to remind myself of my purpose is
If I had no fear, I would be ………………………………………………..(fill in the blank)
My answer for the past 12 years has always been to travel, to write and to speak (teach). No matter what my roadblocks have been along the way – fears, doubts, apathy, excuses, every single time I have asked myself this question is has come back to this, especially in those bleak dark moments where I have felt so depressed and so sad. That little voice has always made itself heard; it has always led me back to my light at the end of that dark tunnel. I have finally now got to the point where I have allowed my heart’s desire to permeate every cell in my body, to let it sink in, to let it be. To be the I am, that I know I am. No more gremlins, no more excuses, just me doing what I love, being in love with life and everything else that crosses my path. And guess what, when you allow that to happen, commitment is no longer required, quitting is no longer thought of nor a threat that hides in the shadows. Because you being you is natural, no commitment required!