Creating a Context for Living

The nature of our existence in life is that everything is in a constant state of change. It’s easy to look around and notice when things change externally.

We see buildings being erected, people in our life getting older, shops closing down, pubs changing names. Things change so quickly and we are extremely adept at dealing with this sort of change. And it’s not just the external world around us that alters with the passing of time, so does our own internal state. Our thoughts and feelings are changing at a similar rate. As these change so do our actions and subsequently the results that we produce in the different situations of our lives.

I invite you to take a moment to notice how the relationship that once appeared to be so fun and exciting at the beginning slowly turned into something predictable and boring. Or how the dream job that was once the answer to your problems, eventually became yet another source of unhappiness and discontent. 

Notice how you were speaking and acting at the beginning of that relationship compared to at the end. Think about how, as your experience of the new job altered, so did the way you were being whilst fulfilling your duties at work.  

Now take another moment to notice how nothing significant physically altered in these areas over time. You are the same you, your partner is the same partner. You do exactly the same kind of things that you did at the beginning of the relationship, you visit the same kind of places, you both have the same interests, you speak about the same kind of things. Your job is the same job, the same kind of people work there, you are dealing with a similar kind of work and resolving similar kinds of work-related issues.

So if these fundamental things stayed the same in this way, what actually happened to create this eventual appearance of dissatisfaction in your daily life and what can you do in the future to address it?

Okay, so I want to start by addressing the fact that, as discussed earlier, nothing ever stays completely the same and that things do change in the relationship over time. As human beings, we generally look at the external circumstances and pick holes in the small alterations in our environment to justify how we feel. We look at the other person and say to ourselves “they’ve put weight on, I’m not so attracted to them now” or “I don’t like my new colleague, I don’t enjoy work so much when they’re around.” We look at these external conditions and we convince ourselves that these are the reasons for our growing dissatisfaction.

This, in fact, has nothing to do with why we become bored and restless so quickly. In reality, the answer lies, not in ‘what happens’ in the physical world, but actually in the context that you have for yourself and your life. 

When you enter, for example, a new relationship or job, the thoughts that you are thinking create a context. If you enter the new situation in life with the context “this is exciting,” and “I’m really happy,” then your whole way of being, acting and speaking will reflect that context.

When you take this empowering context into work, you find yourself being the very best version of you. You are more enthusiastic, more vibrant, more fun and happier, you are better to be around, you are more efficient and you get more done. In this space, even time seems to run faster, you look forward to going to work each day, you create better connections with the people around you and produce your best results.

So what changes?

As time goes by, what tends to happen is that the context you have for the life situation alters. This will usually happen without you even realising that it has happened, and it will usually develop as part of a pattern you learned from previous life experiences.

In the example of a new job, it may well be that after a year the context will have changed from “this is new and exciting” to, something along the lines of, "jobs always become boring after a year.” When you take the altered context into work everything appears in a completely different light. Every situation, every interaction and every task is clouded by this disempowering context. As a result, you no longer get up for work so eagerly in the morning, time seems to run more slowly while you’re there and, even if you are still excellent at your job, the results you produce are affected.

Take a moment to notice the context you currently have in an area of your life that no longer works for you, or that you are unhappy in.

Now, create a new, powerful context for yourself in the situation of your life that isn’t working. By doing this, and keeping it in your mind in this situation, you will transform how you speak, act and consequently the results that you create in this area. 

In a relationship that is becoming stale, for example, notice how your current context has you behave when you’re together. Ask yourself, “what is the level of energy, vitality, and excitement coming from me?” And “What is it like to be around ME?” Now create a new context for yourself that, if honoured, will have you be a completely different way. Something like “I will be romantic and exciting”  Be playful and create this for yourself. 

Once you’ve created this context it can be very useful to share it with someone else so that you have someone to hold you to account. Now, maintaining a new context does take a little practice. You can start practicing by creating an empowering context for just one hour, or a day and then take it to work, to your family, or into a relationship and then honour the context for that period of time. 

Notice how your behaviour alters and how the experience of the situation changes. Once you experience the shift it will motivate you to create these contexts all of the time and to maintain them for longer. If you notice that you lose the context or that you stop honouring it, simply take your mind back to your commitment and start again. Once you become effective at maintaining a context for a long period of time you will find yourself doing it naturally and being the kind of person that you want to be in the areas of your life that are important to you. 

The amazing thing about this technique is that as you take responsibility for the context you create and take action to start honour something more empowering, you will notice a shift in how the people around you are being as they respond to the new you. You will transform not just yourself, but the people you are closest to and consequently this entire area of your life.

Go and give it a go. Have fun with it and see what you can create.