Do you suffer from SLS? Small Life Syndrome?
Do you spend more time at home than you used to because you're "happier alone?" Maybe you used to play a sport but have decided it's "too much trouble?" Have you stopped making plans with others because you have "too much to do?" If you've cut a lot of activities or people out of your life and are now wondering why you feel unmotivated or lonely, you may be suffering from SLS!
You may not have consciously backed away from activities to make your life smaller, but now you are feeling the effects. Don't worry, there's hope. This condition is reversible when we can see what's going on. All you need is a little curiosity.
We all have inherently protective minds that want to keep us safe. And they work overtime to do this! Did you used to love meeting friends for drinks once a week and now find yourself having a drink alone at home instead? Your mind is likely trying to keep you safe.
How do you know? To start with, if you're not feeling happy at home or in life, this is a good place to look. Secondly, see what comes up in your mind when you think about going out to do something you like (and also notice that you used to like to do these things and now you don't - what's up with that?). Do you worry you won't find parking? Are you not sure how you feel about one of your friends who will be there? Do you feel like you always have to stay out late? If you miss seeing your friends but "don't feel like" seeing them now, consider that your mind is lying to you.
Don't get me wrong - our minds love us, that's why they protect us. But the end result of a safety-seeking mind is often a life we're not ultimately happy with. Minds are amazing at predicting and creating scenarios (i.e. lies) that make us worry so we won't ever hurt. To a mind, it's better to avoid a situation that could potentially cause discomfort than to just see what REALLY happens when we're there. What if your mind was wrong and you had the best time of your life? You may never know!
All a mind can do is take in information in any moment and store it away for future use. It's a faulty, imperfect machine based on seeking certainty, so its focus is narrow. At a bar, if may interpret a fleeting moment of unease as a dangerous sign that a friend is no good for you. Then it looks for evidence to back it up. Suddenly, the friend you've known since childhood is now the problem. The result is avoidance and another night at home with your dog and you feeling that you have nothing to do.
The mind wants to run, rather than look at, the present moment. That sense of unease at the bar you felt? What if that was a momentary sensation? An experience that was coming up just like thoughts and feelings come up all the time, but that they all move on? It can save us a lot of grief when we see that we don't have to run and hide from every thought or feeling we have. We'd be locked in paralysis if we did! What if it's just our bored security guard mind creating bad guys it can conquer?
We all want and need days or nights when we can relax or take care of things at home. But next time you notice yourself saying you "just want to lay low" when your friends ask you out or there's a game you want to see....see if you can notice your protective mind wanting to keep your world small. It's a big beautiful world out there and people want to see you in it. Try proving your naysaying mind wrong by saying "yes" next time and see for yourself what happens. What if the danger is all an illusion?