Today is the Autumn Equinox. It’s official, summer is over!
The days will start to get shorter, the nights will get longer, and the bright yellow of sunflowers will be replaced by the more mellow yellow of falling leaves. It’s a turning point, a time of change. Glorious isn’t it?
Growing up, I didn’t think so. To me, autumn was the wet, muddy, decaying mess that connected the summer to the winter. Autumn was when I mourned the carefree, fun-loving summer before being able to enjoy the crisp, soulful and magical coziness of winter. Autumn was something that required resilience and endurance and felt emotionally like wading through treacle.
I was really missing out!
Like many people, I could not see the beauty and magic of autumn because I wasn’t open to the lessons that autumn offers. I couldn’t see that autumn was an important time for me to look after myself and give myself the gift of reflection.
Here are 5 questions for you to reflect on to make sure you are getting the full benefit of autumn.
Question 1 – What do I need to let go of?
The trees are letting go of their leaves. Why are you holding on to stuff?
Never mind spring cleaning, autumn is the time that nature lets ‘stuff’ go, so don’t fight it. If it adds nothing to your life, or worse, drags you down and holds you back, it needs to go. This might mean a clear out of the wardrobe, your client list or just your crazy to do list. Deep down you know what you need to do!
Question 2 – What am I grateful for?
Autumn is the season of thanksgiving. You may not be a farmer giving thanks for the harvest that will sustain you through the winter, but it’s still just as important to be thankful for what you have. Write a list if it helps bring it to life.
And why not pick a day this autumn and make it your thanksgiving day. Use that day to say thank you to those people who have sustained you through the tough patches in the past year and also to yourself for the times you’ve looked after yourself well.
Question 3 – How far have I come?
It’s not until you look back that you see how far you’ve come. Take the time to acknowledge your progress, in any area of your life; career, relationships, family, hobby, education. It all counts.
I make annual photo albums to capture events of the year. When I feel that I am making no progress, I look back at where I was this time a year or even 5 years ago and I’ve always come further than I realised. Find a way that works for you and make time to acknowledge your progress, and celebrate it.
Question 4 – How can I grow?
This might not be the time of growth in the sense of flowers shooting out of the ground, but autumn is still a time of growth; inward growth.
With darkness descending earlier and everyone spending less time outside ‘doing’, you have more time to be inside ‘being’, not just inside the building, but inside yourself.
Autumn gives us time for reflection after the busy spring and summer. Use the time to take stock and set your goals for your inner growth. It’s also a new academic year, so that could include some organised learning.
Question 5 – How can I honour my shadow?
Last but perhaps the most challenging and powerful of the questions is about honouring your shadow. Autumn is all about darker nights, so there is no better time to reflect on darkness in general and in ourselves.
Not sure what that’s about? Look at what annoys you in others. That’s the best place to start.
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
Carl Jung – Founder of analytical psychology
Very (and I really do mean very) simplistically, this is about our ‘dark side’ (yes, like Star Wars but Carl Jung came first!) which we all have in us but are mostly in denial about and/or oblivious to.
I used to get really annoyed with people who over-dramatised things. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realised how much of my life has been fueled by drama. Mostly the negative kind. I even went looking for it. When I realised this was happening it was one of those lightbulb moments. Now, when faced with the drama of others, I smile inwardly and rather than judging, I offer to help.
This autumn I invite you to face your dark side and benefit from what you find. It may be dark, but I promise it’s not dangerous.