Recently I wrote a post about one of my personal wake-up calls (I've had several!). And since then, I’ve spoken to a lot of other people who suspect they may be experiencing one too.
What I've discovered in coaching my clients and talking to people is that there are several universal wake-up calls that we all experience at one time or another.
Some of them may surprise you.
But let’s back up. What IS a wake-up call, anyway?
A wake-up call is any life circumstance that you use to re-evaluate the direction your life is heading. I believe that the universe, God, Spirit, or whatever you want to call it, uses our life circumstances to send us messages. Messages that whisper, speak, and then usually yell at us to change direction. A wake-up call is like our life GPS saying, “RECALCULATING….”.
Why does this happen?
Well, the latest developments in neuroscience and psychology are finding that as human beings we have an innate need to grow, to be challenged and stretched in ways that are meaningful to us. And according to psychologists Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell, authors of the book, “Human Givens: The new approach to emotional health and clear thinking”, we can only go so long without that need being met before depression and mental illness set in.
The way I see it, a wake-up call is simply the conspiracy between our souls and the universe to create conditions where we can grow once again. And often these life circumstances catch us off guard (or else we would see them, right?). The most common wake-up calls that happen to us are:
Not all of these circumstances are ALWAYS a wake-up call. But all of these circumstances ARE an OPPORTUNITY to re-evaluate the direction your life is heading. To treat them as a wake-up call.
Why? Because, as I said earlier, life whispers, then it speaks, and then it yells. I have learned to try to listen to the whispers, and the list above is common ways that life whispers, then speaks, then yells at us.
Of course, we don’t always heed our wake-up calls. Last year I spent most of the year in chronic pain due to an injury sustained by not listening to my body whispering, and then speaking to me.
Why do we ignore wake-up calls? Why do we make life yell at us?
Similar to our driving GPS, our life GPS doesn't indicate we’re about to make a wrong turn. And, more often we don’t need wake-up calls from wrong turns, but rather destinations that no longer serve us. Ironically, our brains are wired to look for threats against us, and yet we so often ignore the real ones and spend our time worrying about the unimportant ones, like threats to our self-image. The other problem is that our brains have not evolved as quickly as our lives have – we are bombarding ourselves with information that we simply cannot process well.
The REAL reason we ignore wake-up calls, though, is that we have no space in our lives. It takes some space, quiet, and contemplation to hear the whispers of life. In his book, “Before Happiness, “ Shawn Achor talks about the power of “canceling the noise.” He recommends identifying the sources of noise (external OR internal information that is unusable, unneeded, or untimely) that keep us from focusing on what matters most.
We also must have a minimum level of self-awareness to be able to identify and focus on what matters most to us, and most of us simply don’t take the time to develop this.
So, we fail to recognize that we aren't living a life that fulfills us (or we believe we are powerless to change it), and we cope by eating more, which leads to weight gain, which leads to diabetes or other health problems, which finally leads to a health crisis. Or, we complain about our job or our boss, without really taking any action to change our work situation, and then end up with a bad performance review, which eventually leads to us losing our jobs.
The truth is, change isn't easy. It’s really scary to be proactive and make the changes in your life to be happy. It’s easier to just compensate for your lack of fulfillment by eating, shopping, drinking, traveling, and all the other behaviors we engage in to avoid looking at and dealing with our lives.
But one thing I know for sure is that there is nothing worse than a catastrophic wake-up call in your life. I have had a few close calls and they were enough for me to learn to listen to the whispers, or at least do my best to try. And what I have learned from those experiences is that I always had more choices than I thought I did. And I’m pretty sure you do too.
If this resonates at all for you, maybe this article is your wake-up call.
If it is, let’s talk!
For a very limited time, I am offering a free coaching session to figure out if life is sending you a wake-up call and what to do about it. This powerful session could be the beginning of our work together, or it may be all you need to move forward.
Either way, it will change your life.