I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This is one of the top five regrets of the dying.
But what does it mean to live a life true to yourself?
From the time we’re born we’re looking to our parents to teach us the rules of this world and to guide our expectations about how we should or shouldn’t act. Looking to our culture or other people to guide how we should dress, speak, act, and even what kind of profession we should be in is common. What would it look like to get in touch with what seems right to you and live an authentic life?
I am in no way perfect at this but …
I am almost 35 and have no children and am not worried.
My husband is seven years younger than me and I am not concerned about ageing.
I do not think we become less beautiful as we get older and nor do I think we can stay the same.
I do not think my life was better in my youth but it was good in a different way.
I do not think divorce is shameful.
I don’t have a microwave.
I chose to work part-time and I was comfortable with the money I earned.
I am willing to hope for the best.
What about you? How do you see the world? What kind of dressing, speaking and behaving feels authentic to you?
In Australia and in many parts of the world, men are taught to love beer and sport. Women feel more encouraged to complain than to celebrate. Celebrating, however, is okay if there is alcohol involved but not if we are merely proclaiming our greatness. This is what we learn as a society and in our families, which becomes so ingrained in us that few stop to ask…
What do I really want to do?
Ooh scary, right?
Each one of us is special and we each have something to contribute to the world. Though this question can be paralysing when there are so many options out there and there’s all that fear and limiting beliefs about whether you are able to do it or not. So a better question may be…
1. How do you really want to feel?
(This question has been life-changing to me)
Do you want to feel creative? healthy? inspired? loving? joyful? powerful? passionate? intuitive? successful? respected? peaceful? abundant? beautiful?
A person might buy a fancy car or talk down to others (colleagues, a spouse, children, customers…) just because they want to feel powerful. They are not conscious that they can channel this feeling is through other means.
Similarly, someone who wants to feel beautiful might become attached to the guy dishing out compliments (I say ‘the guy’ because this needy person was once me) or over-spend on cosmetics and clothes. We give away our power by relying on someone or something to make us feel a certain way.
So write down how you desire to feel and then…
2. What activities make you feel that way?
If you want to feel powerful you could, I don’t know, learn tae-kwon do or something. You’d probably get some good lessons on being humble as a bonus.
If you want to feel successful you could have a glass of champagne (or sparkling wine) and toast the good life or have a long relaxing bath (successful people need time off) or set yourself the goal of writing a blog post a week and then do it.
If you want to feel loving you could volunteer or help a friend or family member or even better, a stranger.
If you want to feel abundant you could give away money, even if it’s five bucks.
If you want to feel joyful you could hang out with a dog or just observe them or play your favourite music.
These examples feel so lame but that’s just because it’s so individual. Whatever works is the message.
If you want to feel creative you could… make a salad, cook without a recipe, decorate a cake, take an art class, decorate your home, browse a market, second-hand or beautiful store, visit an art gallery or exhibition, write a long email to someone far-away, make a birthday card, dress up or in a way that represents you, let yourself be ambushed by a novel and then write, go to the cinema by yourself and then sit at a café and write or draw, go walking and absorb all the creativity in your surroundings, take photos and make an online (or real) album, play chess, dance, make a song on Garage Band….
The list is endless and the point is it doesn’t have to be the most obvious thing. The point is you don’t have to wait for something to happen to feel a certain way. You have access to all feelings at any time.
And the third step is…
3. Do the activities!
Do them every day. Don’t be a gonna, be a doer! Put your list up somewhere you can see it to remind you. Enjoy doing what you want. Have fun.
Imagine, if we all were more conscious about how we access our feelings, it would be way bigger than man on the moon or all the other news-worthy items.
One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!
But getting back to you and me…
Do you have the courage to live a life true to yourself? How do you make up your own rules or break them? How do you desire to feel today?
It’s as simple as that.
In living an authentic life, we don’t have to start with big scary quitting your job type things. Many experts recommend that even when we want to start our own business or make a huge life change, we start off on a part-time basis so you still have the means to support yourself and your new venture is not plagued by feelings of desperation and the energy that comes with that.
And even with big plans and dreams already, we can incorporate feelings to achieve our goals.
Goals and dreams can be far off in the sky. Feelings are real and available to us right now.
- What is your goal or big dream?
- Why do you want that? How do you want to feel?
- What activities can you do to make you feel that way? (Remember they can be totally unrelated to the goal itself)
- Take the first step towards achieving your goal. What can you do today?
- Celebrate and appreciate the feelings you have tapped into and the small achievements along the way.
Then you can also incorporate setting a time frame for when you will do something by. Deadlines definitely help me focus and get in the flow. Start with the feeling and move to the action. This is the yin and yang of achievement. Imagine if we were all that conscious! authentic! fulfilled!
I am willing to hope for the best.