I spent most of my life believing that external circumstances had to change for me to be OK. If I could look a certain way or weigh the right amount, I would feel good about myself. If I could get a phD, I would feel smart. If my kids were well-behaved, I would feel like a good mother. If my husband was attentive, I would feel loved. If my house was clean and organized, I would feel competent. All kinds of stuff had to happen before I could feel worthy, respected, important and happy.
So, of course I exerted tons of energy trying to change people and things. It was exhausting because it was impossible. I saw situations and other people’s behavior as obstacles to my well-being. Pretty helpless. Funny though, no one would have known it. I was smiley and cheery, successful and always put-together. I was really good at making things seem fine.
But underneath I was becoming resentful. And as I grasped more fervently at the external, I became needy and dependent.
I didn’t want to feel that. So I made sure I was busy enough that I didn’t have time to feel it.
We have buckets of lists and bucket lists. Always trying to get things done. We think we need circumstances (finances, weight, where we live) or people (significant other, mother, friend) to change in order to feel better or move forward.
Guess what? The lists that matter to you will get checked off. And your circumstances will align with who you are. They are right now.
This is not a realization I came to on my own. We are a doing culture. How are we taught to make changes in our lives? I was taught to change my actions. I knew that by doing my homework I could improve my grades, but I didn’t do it. I knew that eating less would result in dropping a few pounds, but I didn’t do it. I knew that saving some of my paycheck would allow me to eventually have the things that I wanted, but I didn’t do it. I was taught to change my actions to make these things happen. But I could never change them for long. And the patterns continued as life went on.
Trying to change your actions is backwards. It may work temporarily, but it leads to defeat and frustration. It causes us to question, “What is wrong with me?”
There is nothing wrong with you.
Our actions are a direct result of our thoughts and beliefs. Our beliefs make up our being. They are often automatic because we have thought the same way for so long that we have ruts carved in our brains from the paths they take. And our thoughts trigger our emotions and our actions.
Why is this a problem? Because our thoughts tell us stories. And sometimes those stories aren’t true. When they aren’t, our actions will never line up with who we are without the story.
But when we start paying attention, and take unhelpful patterns off of automatic pilot, we can choose to be in alignment.
When you’re being is in alignment with who you are, your actions will follow.
It’s not about will power. It’s not about stifling desires. It’s not about deprivation. It’s not about your circumstances changing to make you happy.
It’s all about your being.