When we are seeking fulfillment outside of ourselves, assuming that if we achieve what society tells us is success, we’ll then feel happy and like we’re living a meaningful life. What this constant striving does is disregard the true essence of who we are. Success is not one size fits all.
To create a life of purpose and passion, you need to turn inward. Our spirit is our navigation system, but all too often we put our lives on auto-pilot and let outside forces determine our direction.
This month in the Inspired Living blogs I’m going to share some tools and thought starters to get your reacquainted with yourself–your true self. At the end of this month, as we welcome the dynamic season of Summer, you’ll be looking at your life from a new perspective!
Who are you? If you answer that question off the cuff you’d probably list a couple of your top roles or responsibilities. “I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I’m a graphic designer. I’m an entreprenuer.” Our identity is constructed by the stories of our lives, and our egos are set up to behave in a way that’s consistent with who we believe we are. That brings in another layer of stories about what we believe it means to be a mom, a wife, a graphic designer, an entrepreneur.
The process of looking at these layers of stories and challenging their truth is the practice of personal growth; it’s what I guide my clients in doing when they’re ready to have a different experience with life. These stories and these beliefs may be the shackles that keep us living lives that don’t inspire us. If we want to have a different experience, more love, more fun, more creativity, more impact, we have to be willing to change our identities. We have to be willing to rewrite old stories and shift our beliefs to mirror the experience we wish to have.
Allow me to tell you a story of a time that I stretched my identity as a mother beyond what my stories and beliefs told me about this role. I have always had an inquisitive and adventurous spirit. Before having children, however, I had never fulfilled my dream of visiting Italy. After becoming a mother I could look back to my own mother, my grandmother, and just about every mother I had known growing up and I could believe the story that mothers stay home to care for their families. They don’t travel for pleasure without their kids in tow. I could take it a step further and adopt the belief that mothers sacrifice their dreams for their children, and they do so joyfully. I could have thought about how dangerous it was for a woman to travel alone. I could have believed that my children would suffer if I indulged my wanderlust.
I took a hard look at all those old stories and beliefs, and I decided that I was going to write my own story of motherhood and follow the beliefs I had deep within me, not the beliefs passed down through societal messaging. I took myself to Italy on a solo adventure for 6 days, leaving my 3 children in the capable hands of their father. The extraordinary thing was, when my feet hit Italian soil, I was no longer Mommy–I was just Cristin. Of course I missed them and I video called them once a day, but I was not fully defined by my role. I was free to explore all of the intricacies of what brought me pleasure, outside of any worldly expectations. I rediscovered the essence of who I am, and it is my belief that that rediscovery makes me a better mother and a better example to my children.
Did some people judge me? Yes, they did. Am I willing to build my life around meeting the expectations of other people who have their own unique set of stories and beliefs? Hell no, I am not.
So I challenge you today to take a look at your own identity and consider what stories and beliefs may be keeping you stuck in your roles.
Where in life might you be allowing other people’s expectations to determine how you’re going to live your life?
What’s the last thing you said “oh no, I can’t do that” to because it didn’t fit the mold of who you thought you were supposed to be?
What’s an old story of belief that you’re ready to rewrite in the name of your own personal growth and sense of joy and fulfillment?