Living The Dash
Every single one of us has a birth date, and every single one of us will eventually have a death date. Those two dates will appear on life celebration booklets, tombstones, urns and in your family tree history. No one else will have the exact same dates as you. Between that birth date and death date, all we have is a dash (–). This dash is totally yours. This dash in between your birth and death represents what you do with your life. This dash has nothing to do with anyone else.
Let’s go back a few steps. From the moment you are born to the moment you die, the only person who is a true constant in your life,
…who knows every single thing about you,
…who has been through every single physical and emotional experience with you,
…who sees life the way you do,
…who will respond to experiences the same way you will,
…who feels the exact same way you do,
…and the only one who will ever be truly able to understand you
When I ask people in my clinic “Who is the most important person in your life?”, or “Who is the person that you can’t live without?”, it’s very rare that a person will answer, ”me”.
The interesting thing is that the person we give the least attention to is ourselves. And whenever we do give ourselves attention it’s very often in a negative way and we put ourselves down. Why? Because we compare ourselves. We compare ourselves every moment of every day. And then we judge ourselves. We continuously find ways to feel not good enough. We stop listening to ourselves and to what feels right for us.
Our focus is not on ourselves but on everyone else. We are conditioned to look to other people to see if they will approve of us. Something I call ‘outside-in living’.
Think of it like a railway track ======= Imagine that when you are born you are a train and you start your journey on a railway track. That track takes you on your life journey. The track on your left is your birth date and the track on your right is your death date. Everything in between is all about you. It’s your dash, or rather your life. Only your life and what you want to learn. No matter what happens, no one else can ever be inside your track. They can’t. They have their own track. No one else’s train will fit on your track and your train will never fit on theirs.
Yet we spend so much of our time trying to run our trains on other people’s tracks. Because we compare ourselves to everyone else and we are often left feeling inadequate, not good enough. We think we should be more like other people: smarter, skinnier, and more successful, and the list goes on. Our train never quite fits and we get derailed, come off at the corner, get held up, and never make it to the destination that feels right. In other words we block ourselves in life and struggle to love ourselves. We live outside-in.
When we react to anything, our reaction is in our dash; but instead of thinking within our dash – ‘Why does this get to me?’ – we put ourselves in their dash and focus on the other person, what they did, what they said or what happened in a situation.
Then we go straight to other people to get their opinion because the ‘what would everyone else think?’ will help us justify what we think or feel about the situation. We all have opinions about everything: affairs, where people live, choices people make in their lives, how people raise their children, different religions, everything.
We continuously judge. You see, we are looking at what someone else is doing in their dash, and then we have an opinion or make a judgement about them – but the judgement comes from within our dash. Instead of looking down within our dash or ‘inside-in’ to see why we feel this way, we continue to look at what other people are doing, saying and how they live. We try to live in someone else’s dash.
At no time do we understand. Your reaction to what someone else says or does in your situation is about you. Their reaction to what you say or do in your situation is about them.
Rarely do we look within, rarely do we keep the focus on ourselves and say, “Why did this get to me, hurt me, upset me? What is it about me that makes me react this way?” In this quiet place of contemplating our whys is where we will find the answers to what we are trying to learn.
Most of our answers of why we blocked ourselves in our life will be because we were in someone else’s railway track.
Your dash, your train track, which is all about you, is really what you are working on here. It’s full of the most simple, wonderful hints to help you understand yourself. You see, it’s true – your reaction to every single thing in your life is about you.
Your reaction to every experience you have – whether it’s a TV show, a movie, a song, something that happened in your life, or something that someone said – is about you. How you respond to that will be because of your life experience, because of your past and because of what you are working on for your soul journey. Your reaction is inside your railway track but your opinion may well be in someone else’s track.
When we watch TV and movies and read books, we don’t realise we are unconsciously watching what the characters would do in certain situations to see if it is what we would do – we are seeing if it feels right or resonates. Again, we don’t realise that our reaction to a particular scenario tells us about us, why we ask other people for their opinion, to work out how it feels for us. Unfortunately we then get lost in people pleasing and often overlook what feels right for us. We do what we think someone else would do or say what someone else said.
How you feel from watching movies, TV or reading a book is about you. Who your favourite character is is about you – they will have a quality or something similar going on that you will identify in yourself or that you may be working on in your life; that is why you resonate with that character so much.
You may identify with Harry Potter. His character is surrounded by people who love him, yet he is still alone. You may be working on allowing yourself to feel connected with people.
The trick is that if we take a moment to look inside our railway track and ask “Why do I like that character?”, it will be about a feeling or something that they represent – like not being scared to say how they feel, or having confidence, or never giving up, trusting in themselves, or simply not caring about what anyone else thinks.
In fact, if you look at the people you have in your life and whether you love them or they greatly annoy you, your reaction to them, if you look inside your railway track, will gain you a better understanding of yourself.
The people you love or those who annoy you in your life will all have a reason for being there. Let’s break it down.
They aren’t scared to try new things. You either love this or are annoyed by this. If we look inside your track, maybe you are working on feeling confident.
They say how they feel. You either love this or are annoyed by this. If we look inside your track, maybe you are working on empowering yourself.
They look amazing. You either love this or are annoyed by this. If we look inside your track, maybe you are working on nurturing yourself.
They are always there, or never there. If we look inside your track, maybe you are working on connecting with yourself.
The words to the songs we like give us an insight into ourselves – the words can be a window to how we are feeling.
People come into your life for you to learn. It’s not about what they taught you (because the focus will remain with them or in their dash); it’s about what you allow yourself to learn (because the focus then remains in your dash). How you feel is the key to working within your dash.
Rejection and abandonment is all about you working on accepting and being there for yourself.
Trapped or powerless is all about you working on empowering and standing up for yourself.
Unloved and unappreciated is all about nurturing and loving yourself.
It’s really about finding what the positive wording is for the negative feeling to help you work out what you are working on.
It is human nature to compare ourselves and that’s a good thing. However, we need to change our perspective and do it in a positive way and not in a self-destructive way. By looking within our dash and understanding our reaction. By letting ourselves be inspired by others.
Say your best friend lost 20 kilos. If your reaction is ‘I am so envious’, look within your dash. Maybe it’s telling you that you need to work on really nurturing yourself.
Say one of your friends just landed a great job. If your reaction is ‘that’s not fair’, work it out. Maybe your reaction within your dash is letting you know that you need to work on feeling confident, or self-worthy.
Make space. Imagine that your dash is like a blink. When you blink you shut your eyes so everyone else in the world goes away. When you react to any situation that happens, a blink is like looking down into your railway track to see why this gets to you.
When you understand yourself – when you live in your dash – and know your reaction to everything is a hint that tells you about you, it becomes so much easier to love yourself. If you don’t compare yourself to anyone else’s life again, you may just begin to find Heaven on Earth.
Be in awe of yourself. Always keep your power to love yourself. Put your train back on your very own railway track. And go live your dash.
Mel Ryan 100% You