What is a wake-up call?
A wake-up call is when you realize that you need to take action to change a situation in your life. For example, you might think that you are rich. But it will take losing all your money and possessions to start opening your eyes to the fact that your status can change at any time.
Everyone’s reaction to the wake-up call is different. You will probably go through a whole range of emotions, all of which are completely normal. Don’t be surprised if you feel any or all of these emotions:
- Numb: You literally feel nothing – no excitement, no despair. People are constantly quizzing you about how you feel and look perplexed when you say, ‘I’m absolutely fine.’ Because you are: you can’t feel anything.
- Confusion: When change happens, we may have to let go of a role we’ve been playing or a sense of our identity that we have taken on. When we challenge or let go of that perception of ourselves, we can feel confused because ‘We don’t know who we are anymore.’ You were perhaps defined by a role – rich/poor/healthy/sick. ‘This is who I was in the world’, you have told yourself over and over again. You took on the role of ‘rich man’, and when that role changes, you think, ‘Well, who am I now’?
- Grief: Sometimes the wake-up call comes with a great loss. You lose a loved one, your health, or a way of life that you enjoyed, and the grief is intense as you desperately try to hold on to a life that is lost to you now. You weep for a lost era, and at times, it feels unbearable.
- Anger and rage: With grief can come pockets of anger and rage, as you shake your fist at the gods or the establishment or the unfairness of it all. ‘Why me?’ you scream. ‘It’s just not fair.’ You wallow in feelings of bitterness and fantasize about revenge.
- Exhilaration: ‘I can do this, I can do this, I can do this,’ you repeat. You feel high and experience a surge of strength and resolve as you start to research and work out ways to make a new life happen. The world is your oyster, you think.
This too shall pass
When you’re feeling all of these emotions, you may begin to panic. Often we stay in the blah zone for exactly that reason – so we don’t have to feel these feelings. When powerful emotions erupt to the surface, you may try to do anything, anything, anything rather than feel them.
But feeling these emotions is part of the big leap journey. The only way out is to go through.
One of the most astonishing discoveries I have made in the past couple of years is that I don’t always have to aspire to being happy. Living a big life doesn’t always mean you’re living a happy one. In fact, I realized that one of my major obstacles was my belief that life ‘should’ be happy, good, pleasant and enjoyable all the time. For me, living my big life now means surrendering to both the sorrowful and happy points in my day, knowing it’s OK to feel a whole rainbow of emotions – irritation, sadness, anger, happiness, amusement – sometimes all within five minutes. These feelings pass through like waves.
You may be feeling very confused at this stage, but let ‘This too shall pass’ be your mantra. Accept what you feel in any given moment and don’t start building up great big stories in your head about it. Don’t put a magnifying glass over it. Just observe the feeling, identify it and then let it float away. This too shall pass.
This does take practice.