How Vacations Can Help Us See Other Sides of Ourselves…

Think about the last time you went on vacation. Conjure up the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and the way you felt. Close your eyes and take a moment to let this sink in. What do you notice? I’m guessing that you probably feel more relaxed and were able to let in some joy. Vacations are often a nice escape from our ordinary lives, letting us bask in the extraordinary for a little while. They can give us time and space from our usual problems, helping us recharge, and allowing us to get in touch with other often ignored, repressed or overlooked aspects of ourselves. However, vacations are not an escape from who we are as I don’t think we can ever truly escape ourselves. We inevitably bring all parts of ourselves on vacation, not leaving any at home. While this can stir things up for us, great insight and learning can come from acknowledging and allowing expression from other less vocal parts of ourselves.

When I have gone on vacation in the past, my norm has been to get a good lay of the land, plan out activities, see as much of a new place as possible, even trying to get some work done. In fact, it hasn’t been uncommon for me to follow an itinerary, schedule, or to have a to-do list on vacation, a spillover from my normal day-to-day life. You might be thinking that this hardly sounds like a vacation. However, I turned the tables during my last vacation, doing only minimal planning such: figuring out where to stay, how to get around, and the climate and weather to be expected. This resulted in a less structured vacation, something that gives the productive part of me anxiety. Fortunately, I was able to challenge the part of myself that needs everything planned, scheduled and on a tight budget, letting other sides of myself manifest.

Not having an agenda, I noticed that I was more open to things and could appreciate the little things. I was also able to spend more time in the moment, being more open and spontaneous. This helped me see how strong my ‘inner planner’ is and how he often runs the show while my ‘inner adventurer’ is often not given as much of a voice. I saw how important it is to have down time, to relax, and to have the ability to freely ponder things. Ironically enough, this actually helps inform my ‘inner planner’ to reprioritize and take a bigger picture perspective of things, as life is about more than checking off items on a list. Being is just as important as doing, so a balance of the two is ideal. As a result, my ‘inner planner’ now makes sure to check in with my ‘inner adventurer’ and a partnership is forming.

Arriving at home after only spending a week away, it took a few days to readjust. Being reinserted into my home environment, I was now well aware of the routines that I would soon resume and simply noticed how my ‘inner adventurer’ felt about them. I noticed pressure to keep busy and get things done but I didn’t give into it right away. I allowed myself some time to just be and to sustain ‘vacation mode’ at home as much as I could. I found myself thinking more clearly and feeling more at ease as a result. Having stepped out of my routine really helped me see it more objectively as I could view it from a detached, outside perspective which was key to my shift. Since then, I found that I can draw on additional parts of myself to consider things from additional viewpoints. Since this isn’t always an easy shift, I’ve laid out a few ways to bring it about when additional perspective is called for:

1) Fully step into whatever viewpoint you currently inhabit and get to know its thoughts, feelings, beliefs, behaviors, actions, etc. intimately.

2) Next, move to another part of the room or wherever you are and look back at the place you were when immersed in the limiting viewpoint. Now consider another perspective you can take on the situation, issue or problem. Consider other parts of yourself (such as a comical or extreme perspective, or a younger version of you), how others might view the issue (e.g. friends, family, strangers, celebrities, etc.); what an animal, plant or inanimate object might perceive (e.g. a rock, building, pair of sunglasses, etc.).

3) From this new viewpoint, do your best to really embody the qualities of this person, place or thing. Take a physical position, stance or movement that helps you connect to it more fully. Once you have fully embodied it, really let it saturate you as if this is who you are. Think of this as trying on clothes that the new you might wear. Now ask yourself: what is possible from here? Take note of any thoughts, feelings, beliefs you notice.

While you can stop here, it’s often best to try on a few additional viewpoints to see what else is possible, even if you have already found the perfect one. Go back to #2 above and repeat the process, trying on another perspective. Like clothing you’re trying on, it doesn’t have to be a perfect fit. An experimental and playful attitude is best.

4) Once this process feels complete, choose the viewpoint that fits best and come up with ways to keep it alive in your daily life. If you’re having difficulty getting in touch with additional viewpoints, then consider repeating this process as needed. You may also find that you need deeper, more persistent work if your parts are stubborn and deeply ingrained. In this case, feel free to contact me for a free consultation to see if and how I might be able to assist you.

jack grabon
Jack Grabon, LCSW-R, CPC is a holistic therapist and life coach who helps those on a spiritual path to resolve deep-seated issues and live happier, more meaningful lives. He offers in-person sessions in New York City, as well as phone and Skype sessions. Contact him now for a free consultation.
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4 comments on “How Vacations Can Help Us See Other Sides of Ourselves…
  1. Colleen says:

    This is a good start – I like the re-examination of vacation.

  2. madeline maldonado says:

    I absolutely agree with this article. I love vacations because they allow me to be more of who I truly am then my real life does. I was in Miami for labor day and my friend is an even more type A planner then I am. Well I convinced him that we would just wing it and no planning was necessary. It was awesome, we slept late as we needed to sleep, ate what we wanted, didn’t do stressful regimented workouts (like we do at home) and laid by the beach and pool with out a time limit. He was shocked he was able to let go. I wasn’t shocked, I just realized how much I miss being able to be “Free” from constant responsibilities and pressure. I have also come back with the mindset that I need to analyze my daily to do list and really determine if I must do all these things. I am also allowing some evenings and occassional weekend day to have nothing planned.

    • Jack Grabon says:

      Great observations Madeline, and thanks for your comment. Vacations can really help us get perspective on things and remind us of how things can be if we allow ourselves to just be. A “vacation technique” might be good for some :-)

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