Life is a constant highway with bright lights, noise, people, directions, emotions, and the dreaded traffic jams. We are constantly exposed to unplanned detours and unhealthy ‘fumes’. People constantly ask me how I cope and manage so well. How I manage to live as full a life as possible despite my condition.
So how do I cope? I like to call it The Three Circles.
The First Circle
The First Circle is the most important one. It is the ‘safe zone,’ where everything and everyone within it is tried and true. Imagine yourself in the centre of a circle with enough space (not in any particular order) to put your family, doctors, therapists, your favourite things and anything and anyone you count on to survive and bring you happiness. Most importantly, your closest friends, the ones who really understand you, have seen you at your worst, yet still are dependable within this circle. The people in this circle predominantly need to give more than they take and as such are first in line to receive any giving on your part when you are able.
The Second Circle
Imagine a second circle that goes around the first. Inside this circle are your passions, responsibilities, hobbies, interests, goals etc. This circle nourishes and enriches your life. It adds colour and texture to an otherwise Spartan life. Indulge your senses and your mind.
The Third Circle
Again, imagine another circle around the first two. It represents the rest of your life. The friends that really don’t understand your condition and drain you so you are unable to keep and maintain the walls of the First and Second Circles. Even though they are nice people sadly, they can be toxic to you. It is important to remember it is nothing personal and you shouldn’t feel guilt when the time comes to place specific people or activities in this Third Circle. One of the difficulties with the Third Circle I found is that circumstances and people tend to change. It is the way of life. Numerous times, I have had to place people from the First Circle into the Third. Relationships gone wrong, friends moving on, or becoming resentful are all part of the highway of life. The upside to that is I have also been lucky enough to move people from the Third Circle to the First. Always keep an eye out for these possibilities. We want as rich a life as possible. Prepare to be surprised.
In the end, we can’t change our situation. It is important that we secure our position at the centre of the First Circle so we can continue to balance and maintain the others. This is survival 101.
Once you have established the circles, enjoy filling them in. Whenever things start to feel out of control, stop and close your eyes. Bring the image of the circles to your mind and see what is causing the problem. You may have put too many people in the First Circle or let someone from the Third Circle in too soon. Remember you are in control. You can rectify this. It does not come without some struggle and pain but the right things are always the hardest to do. It becomes easier in time to figure out who and what goes where and becomes second nature.
So get a pen, draw your three circles and fill them in.