Who am I? What do I believe? What do I want? What do I have to offer? Where am I going? To continue answering these questions, or even to decide to begin self-exploration in the first place, involves turning inward and examining two things: our head and our heart.
How often do we listen to those things anyway? Daily? Weekly? Yearly? Ever? If you’re like me, you probably don’t have any difficulty hearing the voices in your head and feeling the sadness within your heart. Why is that?! It’s so frustrating to feel so down all the time, stuck in neutral and not able to get any traction. I spend so much time looking out and listening to the TV or radio or movies or newspaper instead of looking in to pay attention to myself.
There are whole fields of academic study and professions that are geared toward looking out: marketing, sociology, politics, business to name a few. Professionals in these fields spend countless hours observing human behavior, critiquing it, and using it against ourselves. Through them, we learn social norms, we learn standards of beauty, what success looks like, what morals are, what to eat, what is healthy. Not all of this information is wrong, but what happens is that we don’t do a good job at evaluating those messages before internalizing them. This is how we “learn” and is the foundation upon which we build our goals.
Consider what you believe about roles you play, your spirituality, your gender. What is success, and conversely, what is failure? What is good? What does money mean? What does love look like?
Somewhere along the way I learned that success was being beautiful, thin, having a 6-figure salary, driving a foreign car, vacationing regularly, and so on. Somewhere I learned to believe that men are untrustworthy. I learned to believe that I must have a family but not too fast or I risk stunting my professional growth. I learned that accomplishments must be validated. My job must be meaningful.
Here is the truth: what I believe is completely my choice.
I believe a job is great if it is meaningful to me.
I believe in earning a living.
Neither men nor women are inherently untrustworthy.
People do not have to validate you; you have to validate yourself.
We tend to assume that everyone successful has it together and life is perfect. But guess what, nobody has the glorious “perfect life;” and thank goodness. But somehow this fact makes us completely uncomfortable. Until we critically evaluate our own belief systems, we are living a false self. We do not yet exist. Opinions of others feed the fear of failure, of incompetence, of worth.
I do not choose to be on auto pilot, I choose authenticity. I choose empowerment. I choose voice.