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Lessons I learnt from Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert
Photo Credit: Business Chicks

On March 10th I got myself put of bed early ready for the long trek (bus, train and walking) into the city to listen to Elizabeth Gilbert speak. For those of you who know me will know that I rarely venture into the city these days after years of peak hour travel. But to listen to Elizabeth Gilbert it was worth it. If you don’t know who Elizabeth Gilbert is, she is the author of the book Eat, Pray, Love (which I wasn’t a big fan of) and her most recent book is City Girls (which I love).

I have watched videos of Liz speak before and have loved them but to be in the same room as she spoke, that was a treat for me. The person I saw on the stage in front of me, was not someone who thought she was a super star, but a woman who is just like you and me.

The biggest take away that I got from listening to her speak, was the fact that she had fears and doubts just like me. Just because she has written number one books and travels the world to share a message doesn’t mean she has it all figured out. In fact Liz is very open that she doesn’t have all of her life sorted. She experiences anxiety a lot, she has lost people she has loved dearly, there are days that she doesn’t feel like getting out of bed. And she doesn’t mind dropping the occasional “f” bomb as she speaks.

I took 5 pages of notes, so I thought I would share some of the lessons that I got. Note one thing that I didn’t take away from listening to Liz Gilbert was her writing skills, but I wanted to share these words with you.

None of us are promised tomorrow
Liz’s presentation got off to a great start when she reminded us that we only have today and the memory of the past. There is no guarantee that we will be here tomorrow.

Liz shared a story of her early days as a writer, when she was struggling to make a living from writing. She told her mentor that she didn’t have the time to focus more on her writing because she was busy working 3 jobs to support herself. Her mentor had heard different versions of this story from Liz several times and finally asked her – “what are you willing to give up to have the life that you pretend you want?”

This is a big question. We often say that we want certain things in life but we prioritise everything but what we say we want. Liz was telling her mentor that she wanted to be a writer and she didn’t have the time to focus on writing her book when in fact she had the time to watch television, the time to go away for the weekend with her friends, the time to do other things that wasn’t writing.

My question to you is – “what are you willing to give up to have the life that you desire?”

You only have 1 life and you only have one energy stream. You can’t do everything. Get clear on what you want from your life, your health, your relationships, your social life and focus on creating the life that you want, not the life others expect from you. Take responsibility for your own energy, prioritise what is important to you.

The most powerful person in the room is the most relaxed
Liz wants to start a new revolution amongst women – “The Relaxed Woman”.

She believes that women are often born with some anxiety simply because they are female. We grow up with an anxiety around our female body. We develop an anxiety about looking after others and having people rely on you. We become anxious about what is happening in the world and how it will impact those who we care about.

Anxiety is our way of keeping us safe. Worry is an act of love.

This is all a myth!!!

Rather than living a life where you are anxious a lot of the time, what if you simply relaxed? What would happen?

When you are relaxed, you can see more of what is going on. You can see the whole picture, things that you missed when you were anxious. At the moment we have a world wide pandemic and this is causing many people to feel anxious and unsafe. What if you simply relaxed, release the anxiety, and believed that everything will be okay? The pandemic would still be going on but you would see the world differently, you would see possibilities that weren’t there when you were anxious.

Relaxed doesn’t mean apathetic or disconnected, you are still engaged but you are not in the fight.

It’s all going to be alright!!

The quality of life is determined by how at peace you are
Elizabeth shared that she believes that anxiety is the real pandemic. I agree with her, anxiety along with fear is what is causing the panic that is happening in our world today. If we want to reduce our anxiety (and fear) there are 3 things we need to consider:
Priorities
If we don’t have priorities around the type of life we wish to live then we can’t be relaxed. When you relax you can see what is in front of you in this moment rather than worrying about the past or future moments. Find people that you like and spend more time with them. Be honest with yourself about what you do with your time.

Boundaries
Establish clear boundaries about what you will accept and what you won’t. Create a sacredness around your boundaries, whether that is personal boundaries or time boundaries. Draw an imaginary circle around your boundaries, everything inside is sacred. Only you can determine what is sacred and what is not and you should be the centre of your sacred circle.

Mysticism
Mysticism is your connection to your source, whether you call your source God, Universe or any other name. Listen to your source energy and know that when there is something for you to do, you will be shown/told. Until that time do nothing and relax. Be ready to serve when you are asked.

Start writing
Elizabeth is a writer so I expected that her advice centred around writing. She suggests that we write down all of our worries, list them all out on a piece of paper. Then imagine that you are LOVE and write down exactly what you would want someone who would you would say to each of your worries. An easy way to do this is to imagine that a young child came to you and told you what they were worried, what would you say to the child.

Ask Love what you should do next and know that Love never gives advice, even if you have asked for it. Love will always be there for you.

Liz Gilbert Quotes
“Courage is the ability to be with someone who is suffering without taking on their suffering. You are simply waiting to serve.”

“The truth will always be the last thing left in the room, you may as well face it now”

“The quality of life is determined by how much at peace you are”

I absolutely loved listening to Elizabeth Gilbert speak. Her ability to bring stories to life. Her openness and vulnerability. Her wish for women to live a different life. This is what I received from Liz after sitting in the audience listening to her for 1.5 hours. Thank you Liz Gilbert, you are a truly beautiful human being who has an awesome gift. Infinite Love and Gratitude.

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