Your life audit
How is the quality of your connections?
Are you feeding connection and starving loneliness?
It’s time to sharpen your pencil and set aside a few moments to do a couple of audits that will really help you feel better connected to yourself, to those most important to you and to your communities.
I know that the word ‘audit’ can make even the most stoney-faced diplomat roll their eyes, groan and harrumph like a disappointed teenager. What you do with these words and the exercises within can give you helpful information about the state of your health and well-being.
Let’s get started!
How’s your social health?
Exciting research is happening about the importance of social health and wellness for all humans. You and I both know that physical, mental and emotional health and well-being is important for our quality and enjoyment of life. But I’m learning that unless you’re socially well, all the yoga, vitamins, exercise and meditation can make little dent in how you feel.
One of the people leading the work on researching social health is Kasley Killam. She runs Social Health Labs in San Francisco and defines social health as:
“Social health is the dimension of well-being that comes from connection and community. Whereas physical health is about our bodies and mental health is about our minds, social health is about our relationships.”
Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad from Brigham Young University in the United States is also a leading researcher of social health. She has a fantastic video about social health that is worth a few moments of your time.
I invite you to reflect on the state of your social health over the past week.
How to do it: Simply answer the questions honestly. How you define the terms is up to you; this is about the quality of YOUR connections, after all.
With a rating of between 0-10 (0 = the worst and 10 = the best), how was the quality of your connection over the past 7 days to:
to those most important to you?
Were you your authentic self in every situation last week? If not, why?
How did you do connection with those most important to you last week?
How were you engaged in community last week?
How do your answers to the questions make you feel? Are you comfortable with your answers?
What, if anything, needs to change?
What support and accountability from others do you need to make these changes?
You may have simply jumped right on over those questions in getting to these words. I invite you to scroll up a little and spend a few moments – just a few – reflecting on the quality of your connection.
Your loneliness thrives when you choose to avoid uncomfortable questions. Please take this simple opportunity to starve your loneliness and feed your connection.
Ready for the next one?
Follow the money
It’s time to follow the money. I invite you to do a quick little financial audit and looking at where your money goes.
The aim is simple:
Do your current spending habits feed your loneliness?
Money is one of those conversation topics that can make you uncomfortable. It’s right up there with sex and medical issues as a topic which is not for polite conversation.
We’re told that it’s rude to ask how much something cost. We’re told that it’s rude to talk about how much something cost. Some societies go to significant lengths to hide financial wealth with the aim of being humble. Other societies celebrate displaying wealth to create an illusion of success, even if those displays feed an ever-increasing debt.
As a result, money can become a source of shame.
Money is energy. Reviewing how you spend it shows you whether you’ve been feeding your connection or feeding your loneliness.
Money doesn’t lie. Your bank statement is perhaps the best evidence you have about whether your desire to live a well-connected life (in which you’re truly connected to your authentic self, to those most important to you and to your communities) is happening.
Open your online banking account and check your bank statements and/or credit card bills for the last month.
What was spent on essentials (like housing, groceries and utilities)?
What was discretionary spending? Discretionary spending is spending on things like entertainment, eating out, alcohol, gambling, travel, etc.
Be honest with yourself: How much of that discretionary spending was spent on avoiding uncomfortable thoughts and feelings?
How much of that discretionary spending was spent on feeding how you connect with your authentic self, with those most important to you and to your communities?
Please don’t judge your responses if the outcome of the financial audit makes you uncomfortable.
Don’t rationalise some spending so it moves from one column into another. Simply respond with curiosity with this new information/data that you have about how you’re feeding your loneliness.
This new information gives you awareness, and with awareness comes choice. What do you choose to do with this information? Ignoring it, denying it and/or filing it away as something-interesting-but-something-that-I-don’t-have-time-for-right-now are all choices.
Exploring further is a choice.
What do you choose?
Thank you for reading.
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Important notice: All views expressed above are my own/the author's and do not reflect any official position. The words published above are intended to support, challenge and inspire diplomats and those living the diplomatic life as they reconnect with themselves and the world around them. They are not intended to, nor should they, replace the advice of a licensed helping professional.