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How Places Affect Your Sense Of Self

  • March 19, 2015
  • 4 min read
How Places Affect Your Sense Of Self

This week I watched ‘Begin Again’, a movie about a young woman making it in the music scene in New York. At one point, she’s living in a luxurious open-plan apartment with her rising star boyfriend and all sorts of dazzing possibilities await them both. Their modern apartment has a large kitchen, inside table tennis, expensive furniture and lots of space. Then they break up. She trundles her guitar and backpack to meet her busker friend, and moves in to his tiny couch in his cramped and cluttered unit, where there’s barely room to rest a teacup and no privacy. P1100510 (800x533) I thought it was interesting how the place around her reflects her state of mind. One day she’s surrounded by space, possibility, confidence and security, and the next day that has all fallen away and she’s struggling to regain her prospects and her trust in the world. Isn’t it interesting how our self-image changes with the space we call home? When the spaces around us don’t reflect how we see ourselves, it feels incongruous and clashing. When they change drastically, our self-image can also take a beating. How do we talk to ourselves, when we’re living in a tiny, cheap space? Do we say, I have failed, I’m no good, this place is a dump and I am rubbish? Do we notice ourselves shrinking, pulling away from the world, denying ourselves the chance to learn and grow, becoming resigned and hopeless? Are you surrounded by broken or dirty things, great big expensive things that you don’t actually like, reminders of a painful past, confusion and chaos? P1080421 (600x800) The places we spend our time in do shape us. Our stress levels are higher when we don’t feel safe, and that affects our behaviour and our bodies. If you notice that your home tends to make you depressed, flat or stressed, can you think of a way to draw the things you long for into your life? Do you need to get rid of some clutter? Do you need some flowers on the table? What would make you feel safer and more relaxed here? Do you need to find something beautiful to look at, something that is uplifting and meaningful to you? How can you bring joy to your life right now, where you are? You don’t have to spend money to do this. You can draw, write, rearrange, unearth hidden things, find natural objects like shells and seedcases, barter or use recycled materials. P1090091 As well as deliberately creating order and beauty in your everyday spaces, find places to connect to the wild. If we absorb the energy of place around us, we will benefit from seeking out nature because we are all creatures who live on this planet. Even in the middle of the city, you can find parks, vacant blocks of weeds, waterways and nature reserves. City people especially benfit from finding wild spaces, because there’s less incidental exposure to nature. We all need it. P1080274 (2) (565x800) ‘I’ve never come across a tree who was against me.’ -Osho P1120120 (800x600) Spending time by the river, under a tree, watching the ocean, gazing at the moon, soaking in the rain, letting the wind blow your hair, enjoying a thunderstorm or investigating ants in the pavement reminds us that we belong here, we are part of this too, we have intrinsic worth. If you need help doing this, take a small child for a walk and copy them! We are part of something bigger, we are never alone. Let this soak into you, and take that solidness, that calmness, back to your busy world. P1080137 (800x600) Don’t wait for the ever elusive ‘one day’, when you finally make it, when you have enough money or a good enough job or a perfect partner. Take a moment to reflect on how you are shaped by the places you spend time in. Listen to the stories you are telling yourself inside your head, and ask if that’s really what you want to create. Start playing around with your everyday spaces right now, and make sure they do reflect who you are inside. Seek wild spaces to honour your physical and spiritual connection to the earth and everything on it. Invite beauty, comfort and joy into your life today.

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  • […] So this has shifted my trajectory, my sense of self. […]

  • […] I’ve always thought I was the sort of person who really sunk their roots into a place. Not a light-travelling, minimalist or temporary sort of girl. Yet I’m finding myself surprisingly at home in temporary and mobile structures this year. I wonder what that says about me, if the places you live in shape who you are? […]

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  • LOVE this xx

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