Our last days of summer are here in the Colorado mountains! The aspen trees at higher elevations are beginning to tinge yellow, and the mornings have that whiff of the ending of growth. Even though it has been years since I went to school, I still get excited for the atmosphere of learning that September brings. Memories of cool days and busy coffee shops with intellectual conversations come to mind.
I think about my younger self, in the first years of college, searching for the meaning of life, wanting to make a difference in the world, and longing for love and acceptance. I wanted my parents to be proud and supportive, even though I was pursuing a degree in English that I might not use in the future. There is definitely a piece of that younger self with me in late summer -- the one with big dreams, the one that keeps me in check and reminds me to find moments of joy when I get too focused on solving all the problems in my world.
One Piece of Advice for Your Younger Self
On one recent summer evening filled with conversation about kids and memories, a friend asked me, “Given the opportunity, what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?” Boy, lots to think about there! And what a great question to reflect on knowing what I know now.
Today, I ask that question to you. What’s your answer? Given the crystal ball you now have into your past, what have you learned that could guide you? Would you have believed it at the time? I don’t ask you in order to trigger regret but rather to reinforce that what you’ve realized now is so important to you.
One thing I would definitely say to myself is to spend more time in nature and to make sure that I use that space to reboot my energy levels. Watch my latest video for a little glimpse of a lovely place where I spent time recharging in southern Colorado.
As a way to deepen the exploration of what’s important to you, there’s a therapy exercise I like to use with Life Compass Cards, developed by Joanne Steinwachs. You sort 108 word cards that represent values that may or may not resonate with you, using guidance from the exercise instructions and some coaching from the facilitator on how to narrow it down to your top 7 values. I find the exercise useful and also difficult at times. It requires you to let go of those things you may find important but not necessarily the most important to you. It’s a lovely endeavour to do with your therapist or a trusted friend.
So whether you are on your own recovery journey or supporting someone on their’s, I encourage you to enjoy the end of this summer and the beginning of the introspective opportunity that fall gives us. Make a plan to spend more time with who and what is important to you, perhaps inspired by that question from my dear friend. And, if your younger self has some advice for you, listen carefully to what that voice says!
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Bonnie Brennan shares thoughts, inspiration, skills and resources for recovery