Change & Drawing from Within
June 29, 2014 5:08 PM   Subscribe

I was curious as to what others have done when they are not sure as to what they need to change to make their lives better? I am a big believer in therapy but it is also very problem oriented and can focus too much on deficits. I guess what I'm asking is how do you know what you need to change in your life? How do you know if you have fallen off the path of what you need to do in your life?

I have many books that address things psychologically,but I'm not sure that these books really focus in on the big picture. I have heard that real change comes from within. Unfortunately, I'm not any clearer on what I need to change next to make a lasting difference. How does one really take a good look at what's inside them and come up with a plan to change things for the better?

One of the bigger problems that I struggle with is that I'm not sure what philosophy to embrace in life. Religion has never been a big component in my life, but I still try to lead a moral life.
posted by nidora to Religion & Philosophy (5 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I like to occasionally take a personal inventory of how I'm doing in various categories in my life, to see if any of them need more attention. Categories include things like:

- family, friends, romantic, community

- current job satisfaction, plans for short and long-term future career growth

- whatever that means to you, Are you feeling spiritually fulfilled?

- What's my general mood like? Do I feel emotionally stable?

- cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility... Am I happy with my current grooming/fashion? How's my body image?

- Am I being challenged at a reasonable level? Am I learning? Am I exposing myself to new ideas and growth opportunities?

- Do I have goals that I'm working toward? Is there anything I feel like I'm missing that I should be working toward, or that I need to learn to live without more gracefully?

You could probably come up with other categories, too. I find that divvying things up like this can help identify areas that I want to focus on more, and can also help me realize what I'm doing well.
posted by vytae at 8:13 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm finally reading the copy of The Artist's Way I bought years ago, and I think the morning pages exercise might be helpful for you: It's three pages of longhand writing first thing in the morning. For some people, the exercise is life-changing. It seems like it might help you find and focus on what you want to change about yourself and your life.
posted by purpleclover at 10:21 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a great question, but it's so broad. You are clearly feeling dissatisfied; what's the nature of your dissatisfaction? It helps to know what the problem is before you can find a solution.

So you're at least potentially looking for a philosophy (or religion; they don't deserve the bad rap they have around a lot of the internet. Religions can be like great bands with some awful fans that try to ruin it for everyone else, but this is a bit of a digression which I would be ecstatic to go into in a MeMail!) or "way" to follow, but aren't sure which one. Great! Which ones have you looked into? Why are you looking for a way in the first place? It sounds a little bit like you've been focused on the "What"s and the "How"s of life, but are realizing that you haven't fully wrestled with the "Why"s. Are you having an existential crisis? That's a good sign in your larger development as a person, but wow is it hard.

Your question is great, but it's a really difficult one to answer over the internet. It really wants some back-and-forth talk, and just-- the presence of a human being, you know? If you're ever in Pittsburgh and want to get coffee (or a beer! or whatever!) please let me know. I would seriously, genuinely love to listen to you and talk with you about what you're wrestling with.
posted by Poppa Bear at 5:52 AM on June 30, 2014

Whenever I feel dissatisfied and clueless and stuck, I reflect on these things:

1. Am I enjoying life? If not, what are the things I can do to make it more fun?

2. Am I living a life I can be proud of? If not, what are the qualities/habits/endeavors/accomplishments I can start working on today that will lead me to someday be proud of my life?

3. What is my purpose? Or better yet, what do I want my purpose to be?

4. What is my ideal version of myself doing exactly one year from now? Is she still living in the same city? In the same job? Seeing the world through the same lens? Doing the same things in her spare time?

These questions, for the most part, help me achieve some level of clarity on which aspects of my life I need to change.
posted by tackypink at 8:39 AM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I feel like the biggest problem in my life at any one time, is usually my blind spot. I'm not even aware of it, and I'm focusing on a bunch of other, smaller problems as a distraction.

I actually find it really useful if I can get my friends to tell me "What My Problem Is". They generally don't of course, and not in those terms, because they're encouraging, tactful people.

But still, your own blind spots are usually blindingly obvious to others. Like, rather than drinking 8 glasses of water a day, I think you should be finding another job and fleeing from your abusive boss. People don't notice stuff like, they've been miserable since a new house/job/relationship etc.

So, I really try and pay attention when friends do point out something they're worried about or would like to help me with.


If you're uncomfortable with the term Spirituality above, replace with Beauty, or things that have no point, but lots of Meaning. So, I end up putting getting out in nature, art, and helping people in that category.


Take a weekend out from your life. Stay somewhere else, or in a tent, or in your room but change everything and switch off any devices but music (or, and this is Strong Medicine, psychedelics).
Sit with yourself, and see what bubbles up. What frustrates you, what do you dream of, what do you wish you could fix, what would it look like if you felt mended?


Or, and I've said this before: Write down 10 things you WANT every day.

You need practice dreaming. Picturing what things you would like to have, so that you can then move towards them. If you're not used to it, it can be a struggle. Don't worry. Just put it down. Doesn't matter if it's silly.
Every day I'd put down a different instrument, a different country. I realised even though I didn't really put much thought into travelling to specific places, I did really, really want to travel. To HAVE travelled.
So yeah, try it.
posted by Elysum at 8:56 PM on June 30, 2014

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