Nick and I were speaking to good friends recently who are starting to design a home to be built on a block of land they purchased locally. They are in the stage of building their knowledge rather than building the structure itself at the moment; learning more about design, dimensions, levels, layout, materials, environmental footprint, finishes and everything else it entails, taking their time to explore options. They are, understandably, excited about it; it sounds like a wonderful project and, similar to many conversations, it sowed a seed of an idea for this article.
Using the building theme as an analogy and as the parable teaches us, a wise builder constructs on rock, choosing a stable and steady foundation but a foolish one builds on sand. It’s clear that foundations are important particularly in relation to structures but so too are the footings that underpin them and the same applies to life too.
Wherever and however we start in life, our immediate circumstances and primary influences create the footings for our initial foundation. Some environments offer much more stable, functional footings from which to develop our foundation and thrive, others are not so effective or functional. Even though an unstable environmental foundation may create a wobbly start it doesn’t necessarily predict a wobbly future.
Lack of love, support, education, money, family, connection, communication or nurturing can certainly create challenges at any time however it doesn’t have to set us totally off track. Once we are older with more experience of life, we can choose to deconstruct the poorly-established, potentially weak footings of our childhood and reconstruct a stronger one. The challenge may come if we don’t realise that our footings and/or foundation need some work and/or don’t know when and how to improve or change it.
As with any unsupportive structure, it is not enough to do a cosmetic make over or quick fix to cover over the cracks. It may well require getting back to basics, partial or total demolition in some cases and then work to re-establish the footings or choosing a new site altogether. Otherwise it may be preferable to gradually dismantle, brick by brick, layer by layer as we choose what to keep and re-use and what to dump until we reach the foundation, check the footings and decide what and how to rebuild.
Depending on what is needed. it can be helpful to explore your options and go deeper with someone who can gently guide you through the process, particularly if major work is required, however much can be achieved on your own. A great place to start is to stop and make space to get back to basics and review and (re)establish your personal footings to support a stronger more effective foundation before anything else; it doesn’t have to be done quickly, in fact we achieve a better result if we start with small steps.
Some of those footings could include defining your personal values, morals, ethics, standards, boundaries, what you will and won’t accept or allow. That may result in you deciding to shed some things as challenging as that may be; beliefs, habits, assumptions, perceptions for example or streamlining your life and letting go of people, situations, work, events etc that no longer support you or have caused your foundation to weaken in the past.
What we need to do and how we approach it will be different for each of us but a thorough review is important, with a word of caution; recognise those footings that have been supportive and restore them rather than assuming they all need to be replaced, some maybe but not all.
It’s never too late to make a fresh start and forge a new path and it’s important to recognise that our life so far including family, friends, experiences etc do not have to define who or what we are or who or what we will become, we all have free will and can choose to change at any time.
How firm are your footings?