In 2007, I spent a year travelling across the globe with my husband and children – who were then 11 and 13. Life had been tough, our marriage had been through a horrendous bad patch, which had led inevitably to its breakdown. This combined with complex grief, experienced through so many family deaths in such short a space of time, meant that I was feeling internally anxious, broken hearted and unable to continue my day to day life as it was.
I needed to run… far away. Spend time healing. Having fun doing what I wanted, without constantly needing to take society, its judgement & lack of understanding into account.
I needed to detach myself and just do what I wanted, whilst only taking my family into consideration. Everything else was a moot point.
At that time I didn’t have a good support network around me. To have a group who have a similar understanding and insight to you is important – as the response from those with lower emotional insight, awareness and understanding, can potentially leave you hurting, unhelped or even damaged.
I was challenged in every way, when dealing with death – being the majority of time in the home as a Mother, meant feeling and constantly being in, the breakdown of my marriage without escape. I knew I needed to travel-be with me and now was the time.
What it also enabled me to do was to constantly spend time focusing on what I wanted. My judgment good; my thinking sound – my emotional maturity and awareness developed into good insight and an ability to stand back, breathe, observe, then take action. Grounded in professional knowledge and personal wisdom to what was within, what needed building, changing or keeping, what was already there.
I’ve been speaking recently with my daughter who is a dive master and wishing to go to the next level as a Scuba Instructor. I love to scuba dive but feel the fear of it for a couple of reasons. One is very personal, due to trauma experienced within my teens, which made me terrified and froze a deep part of me in place, which didn’t get loosened and freed until I was 40. The second is not being able to dive often enough to build self efficacy, which would help me move through the fear.
I know the skill as an Instructor is not just to teach scuba diving but to teach scuba diving to an individual or a group. Taking into account the way in which they learn and their personal needs. I know I will never forget our instructor, because he seemed to get the balance right with the four of us as a family – whilst taking into account our individuality. I know what was really needed then, to develop self efficacy through the process. I needed to repeat, repeat, repeat. This would have changed level of knowledge, insight and confidence.
At this early stage in our travels, I held my self esteem tenderly, due to what I’d been through previously. How emotionally I was hurting. How personally I had become anxious, due to the challenges which were far greater than my ability to deal with them. How I the person, had become enmeshed in all the grief, pain, anxiety and discord – fighting with every inch of willpower to keep my head and self esteem, above water in the process.
As we travelled – I detached from creating or building relationships and only connected on a loose social basis with people we met along the way. Way to exhausted for anything else. I had the time and inclination to raise my self esteem by seeing what I was good at, how I could laugh at myself, recognise my generosity – even the negative aspects of my personality, through situations which arose. I was able to perceive a full spectrum of myself and realised that I was a pretty decent human being. I liked myself for who I was and decided that if others didn’t like me, then that was their business.
What I achieved was partially due to cognitive reframing. It was and is a constant process, as I deal with the challenges of being a human being around other human beings and in friendship or family groups with human beings.
Sometimes we need to cognitively reframe our experience to enable us to deal with it.
Alternatively, it may be necessary to simply acknowledge our experience and what it means to us. At other times, we may need to leave where we are, due to the different mentality of a group around us – how we feel or what we are trying to achieve. It is discernment which allows us to understand the difference and keep promoting our own good self esteem.
The travel quest I went on, enabled me to recognise, relate, challenge and deal with what had been going on in my life until this point.
It gave me space to move through my grief – heal my hurts.
It stimulated my senses, moved my thinking from a societal to a global perspective. Fundamentally shifting my mental state in the process. Enabled me to embrace difference, change and develop a deeper level of independent thinking, combined with empathic insight.
Trying activities I’d always wanted to do which challenged me, yet made me happy. Spending long term, quality time with the people I loved – made me happy. Travelling and visiting the places I’d always wanted to go, made me happy. Being able to fulfill my dreams & stay committed to my values in the process – made me happy.
This deep happiness, combined with the art of building confidence and working with my self esteem, meant that I didn’t just visit different countries and places for a year, parent and educate my children in the process, whilst rebuilding a marriage along the way.
It enabled me to see me clearly and decide that who I am is ok and if I’m somewhere I don’t seem to fit, then I need to move on or work on what’s needed to find my own way forward.
Developing self esteem, is another element in being human, which combined with self efficacy, helps a person grow exponentially. Allowing them to discover, unfold and develop trust in life..