Discovering your innermost self- your most authentic, honest and clear being- can be quite a challenge for many people. As we go through life, we take on a lot of baggage- expectations of others, ‘rules’ for how society works, boundaries for what we are ‘not capable of accomplishing.’ It’s no wonder we lose track of our innermost self!
Many women, moms especially, have taken on so many expectations with their roles of woman, mom, wife, employee, friend, etc. that they are a jumble of rules, often conflicting, in order to ‘make everyone (else) happy’. It often takes quite a bit of motivation to commit ourselves to a major shift- significant career dissatisfaction, deteriorating health, or general disappointment with how life has ‘turned out.’
For me it was a combination- overstressed from constant attention to my special needs kids, career stagnation, general life dissatisfaction, lack of friendships, pathetic finances and a huge gaping hole in the area of self-love. Basically I hated who I had become. I had allowed myself to become a victim of my circumstances, and I was ready to wiggle my way out of its deathgrip.
Without knowing what I was doing or where I was going, I was determined to ‘find myself’. These three steps were invaluable in beginning and continuing that journey, because as we all know, this is a lifelong journey and we will always be given new and exciting challenges.
1. Be aware of the choices you are making. Everything in life is a choice- some have real consequences, some have perceived consequences. (Don’t pay your taxes- there will be real (legal) consequences. Don’t volunteer at your kids’ field trip- there are many perceived consequences such as guilt, letting others down, etc.)
Recognize the choices you are (and are not) making and how they really affect your life, then let go of the emotions that are not serving you. Guilt over not participating in every single field trip is not necessary. You are a great mom, and you deserve to have a sane life. This always involves being aware of your core values so that you can say ‘no’ when they get pushed too far. For instance, maybe you want to participate in field trips, just not every. single. time. Draw a line where this privilege turns into a chore and say ‘no’ before it gets too far. Ok, enough with the field trip example.
What is the cost of going to work and counting down the minutes every. single. day? What are you creating in your life by not allowing yourself to ask for help to give you five freaking minutes to yourself to breathe, or a half hour to go for a walk (alone), or to meditate and calm your body.
If you are not at the point of doing it for the sake of feeling worth it (you are!) what are your kids/husband/friends/coworkers missing out on because you are not taking care of yourself? What do you need to be your best- to feel energized, refreshed, joyful, grateful, and inspired to be your best self? Do it!
2. Enjoy now. There is infinite information in the present. Meditate (for those ‘afraid’ of meditation, this can also take the form of prayer or simply being present- experiencing your breath and allowing thoughts to pass through your mind without judgement). Play with your kids. Listen to your inner voice as you walk. What are they telling you? What can you learn simply from savoring the present moment- the things you are most grateful for in that snippet of time are typically the things you should be building your life around.
You will never regret the things you ‘should do.’ You will, however, regret the things you really want and need to do on a soul level. Sometimes it is unclear why we need certain opportunities and they might feel extravagant, but trust that if it keeps coming to your consciousness that you should definitely pay attention.
Prioritize enjoying the present moment- it doesn’t always have to be a party, but take the time to appreciate people, nature, growth, experiences, etc. There is a place for organizing your life, but spending all of your time planning, organizing, and setting up everything in your life to flow perfectly is unnecessary and often does not allow you to spend time on the things you are trying to streamline for. Do the things you truly want to do first, and allow the other stuff to fill in the remaining space.
3. Realize that sometimes the journey of ‘discovering who we really are’ is more about remembering than discovering at all. Pay attention to the experiences and opportunities you have attracted in your lifetime. Is there an activity you have always wanted to try, but never have? A particularly memorable trip or experience? A skill you wish you knew? A dream for contributing to the world?
Sometimes these answers come from our current daily experiences. Sometimes we need time to meditate back on the experiences we have had throughout our lives. The choices we made to either pursue them or not can be great ammunition for discovering our deepest desires as well as better understanding the ‘stories’ we have told ourselves that continue to hold us back from pursuing our truth.
What is it that you love about that activity? What drew you to it? If you did not pursue that calling, why not? Did somebody else’s ‘rules’ convince you that you shouldn’t listen to your inner voice?
I love to look back on my experiences in childhood and college years. In those ages and stages, there are many opportunities to see things through less complicated lenses. At this time, many of us have fewer responsibilities and are able to clearly see the reasons we did or did not take on a challenge. What can you learn from this information. Is there any activity/skill/interest that you should revisit? Is there an idea or value within that translates to your current stage or interests?
Often times people think that these goals and missed opportunities are not related to their current daily lives and especially their careers. It’s not a ‘practical enough approach.’ Why? Why can’t you be living out your dreams in service of others for your career (it’s called a soul-based business). And yes, it is totally ethical to get paid (well) for it!
I’d love to hear about your discoveries! Please share in the comments below…