“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
For a long time, I could easily identify what I wasn’t happy with in my life. I was quick to grumble/whine/complain/lament about what wasn’t working in my life…and was also very slow to come up with a solution.
I’d gotten so used to a certain level of blah-ness in my life that I’d mostly stopped thinking I deserved a more joyful life. I say “mostly” because it seemed like there was a part of me that was drawn to creating more in my life…more happiness, more excitement…more of what I’d called “the good stuff”! But for a long time, that part of me spoke in a whisper, and I didn’t know what to make of it.
After my first introduction to some of the tools of personal growth, the little whisper in me got a little louder. And over the next decade, after taking nine more seminars on transformational growth, reading a myriad of books on the topic, and surrounding myself with likeminded people, I decided it was more important for me to create my happiness than to wallow in my sadness.
Below is the process I used and continue to use to move into more empowering ways of being. It took me nearly a decade to refine this method, and I’m hoping to shorten the learning curve for you by sharing it!
DIG: What isn’t working for me right now? How do I know it isn’t working for me? What does it feel like in my body? My most common way of identifying a dig-worthy spot is when I respond to someone else, an event/circumstance, or even a thought in my own head with tightness in my stomach, sweaty palms, and/or a raised heartbeat. Have you ever been taken aback by the physical response you were having to someone/something in a particular moment? I encourage you to consider that physical response as a prime indicator of dig-worthy territory.
DISCOVER: What thoughts/beliefs do I have about it? What types of emotions do I have around it? What do I want from it? What am I doing about it? When I take the time to hash out what thoughts and emotions I have around a particular issue, I can make sense of why I was having the physical response in the first place. I usually discover a heap of limiting beliefs, assumptions, and judgments in my “thoughts” exploration, and taking things personally usually leads to my most common emotions. Those types of thoughts & emotions often lead me to initially desire actions based in insecurity and revenge (if you hurt me, I’ll hurt you!)…even though I’M the one creating the hurt in myself, by taking things personally…
DECIDE: In light of my answers to the questions above…what are my new desires? What are my new choices? Am I committed to changing my beliefs in order to change my experience? Am I going to accept this and stop complaining about it? Or am I going to continue making the same choices as before…despite whatever I dug up & discovered? This is my big choice point. I’ve identified my trigger, my underlying beliefs around that trigger, and my initial desires & desired actions in light of those underlying beliefs…and now I get to decide: am I going to keep making choices from my limiting beliefs & insecurities, or am I ready to grow from this, chip away at my insecurity, and make a new empowering choice for myself? What am I truly committed to in this lifetime…living my life from my insecurities, or having the courage to overcome them?
When I answer these questions with honesty and compassion, I’m able to make a new empowering choice for myself. If I go into beat-up mode judge myself as “bad” for making the choices I’ve made, I usually just get disappointed and don’t want to spend the brain-power it would take for me to come up with a solution.
What are you sweeping under the proverbial rug in your life? Where are you ignoring physical triggers that are indicative of something deeper? Which area(s) of your life could use some digging, discovering, and deciding?
I encourage you to spend some time answering the questions above. Remember: you are where you are on your path of personal growth. This whole growth stuff is a journey. And you will spend your entire life on the journey.
Lessons and solutions stick when they stick. There’s no magic formula. There’s no quick, short-cut to fulfillment and joy. So take your time and be kind to yourself along the way.
Photo via Death To Stock Photo