To change your life, change your mind. Everything in your life is an expression of your mental diet.
The three steps to change are: 1) Awareness, 2) Practice and 3) Curiosity.
The articles that follow will outline the process and practices you will need to achieve the goal of a happier, more fulfilled life.
When I was growing up I thought I was supposed to figure things out. It seemed as if that was what school and everything else I participated in was all about. Preparing myself to be able to figure things out.
Every day of my life someone felt compelled to tell me how to do something. How to think, what to think, how to look at things – boys, art, houses, animals – how to think about things and what to do. No one ever mentioned that I might know something. No one ever said I had a choice or that I would know what to do with it if I had the choice. Never did it occur to me that I would even know a choice when I saw one.
You don’t have to have that kind of experience to not have choices. Some of the most well-meaning advice is meant to keep you under control and away from choices. We all had that in some degree. Mine may have been more than yours but even if you had the most forward thinking parents you didn’t grow up in a forward thinking culture. Even progressive cultures have their eye on compliance. They want you to have the “best” life – their version.
Communities need us all to line up, stop at stop signs and lights, not be rude and act properly and be dressed appropriately for what you are doing. What I am talking about is not the freedom to wear a swimsuit to the football game in New England or to shock people at church. Although I made some of those choices just to be noticeably flaunting the system.
My brain cells were wired to rebel, period. And it didn’t free me up at all. I was always concentrating on what those in charge didn’t want me to do so I could do it. I never thought about what I wanted. I never chose for me.
What I want to talk about here, what I want to show you, is how to find your authentic self and make choices that fit you. Always watching out of the corner of your eye or the back of your head will never give you the answers to the life you want to live. You’ll never get to the person you were born to be, the life you were meant to live.
We all come here for a reason. Each one of us has a life goal and a life lesson that we came here to learn. Life goals that suit us, that are in our best interest can be swept aside if we are not alert to our feelings, our sense of what’s right and not so right for us. Many years before we started counting the years forward, a Roman emperor and philosopher named Marcus Aurelius said, “Nothing is either bad or good but thinking makes it so.”
That blew my mind when I read it. How could something not be right or wrong, good or bad. Everything I had heard or read to date had said just the opposite. Luckily I didn’t know when he was writing or I would not have paid attention. I knew anyone who was alive way back then didn’t have any connection to me or my life or life in general. I was beginning my learning curve!
Next I would have to figure out how to fit myself into the person I had become and then I would have to deal with the world as I knew it. I saw steep stairs and it would be a very long while before I realized the words “figure out” should be no part of my vocabulary.
The brain had been a huge part of my education and upbringing. It functioned as the leader of everything I knew and had been taught to value. Descartes’ “Cogito ergo sum” was the epitome of my education. It divided me from those who don’t think and separated me into my rightful and therefore dignified heritage. Even though I wanted to flaunt my expressive rebelliousness, I wanted more to fit in.
That, it turned out, was the root of everything good and bad I had experienced to date. I didn’t fit in, I didn’t want to – but I didn’t know what else to do, what I wanted to do or anything much about me at all. I was pretty much an unknown to myself. I had been taught not to be selfish, not to look too closely at who I was but to concentrate on who I wanted to be. I was given choices – in the media, at my school and among my family and friends.
Success was mine if I undertook any of these characters and filled them out the way they were written. At school our headmaster told us to be educated to attract an educated man. At home it was Nancy McCarthy who seemed to be going to have the best chances for a successful life. I, and many of my friends were encouraged to copy her in every way. My mother offered to have my nose fixed and my hair changed to more fit the proper mold.
Some of that may seem harsh but it actually helped me on my way to making my own choices. I found my surroundings quite outlandish and I managed to ignore them while still being affected by feelings of inferiority. Throwing myself into choices I had no idea of the consequences would get me out of where I was but often as not got me into places where my navigation skills could be put to the test. There are easier ways to find your path.
Many of us end up where we want and need to be by surprisingly circuitous routes and manage to be whole. Most of us find help along the way that inspires us to create ourselves and lead flourishing lives.
Some of us are “acceptable” from the beginning, which does not guarantee a life of ease. Nancy McCarthy married a successful player on Wall Street who lost all his money and left her for a woman twenty years younger.
Many of my clients found more acceptance in their environs, leading them to make choices that weren’t theirs and not understanding that they were following another’s path, so close to “perfect” they were.
My next article in this series will help bridge the gap between being dependent for such a long childhood and then having to make our own way. The learning process defines us. We are happy, sad, sick or well, fulfilled by our choices or battling them. It’s not so much what we do but how we do it and what we make of it.
Is just being yourself enough?
Do you say something to get something? Do you want to be known or make a point?
Pam White calls herself a "life-enhancing" coach because she spent years trying to make herself known before she knew herself. And Pam was stressed, tense and looking for a "fix" from someone else to tell her she was worthwhile, loveable and smart.
It wasn't until she appreciated who she was that she gave up being a caretaker and became a true friend.
Through the strategies and processes that Pam has come to know and practice - an important difference - she is able to be vulnerable, kind, honest and ask for help while taking responsibility for herself.
Pam's goal in her life is to share this knowledge and way of being so that as many as possible will know freedom of mind and heart.
Come to her Website, leave her a message, she'd love to hear from you!