We have a cultural norm that we must do 'the right thing.' Whilst this is an important concept that helps build a community and ensure that the needs of others are met, it is unhelpful when doing 'what is right' is not right for you. When this happens, most of us tend to 'push through'. Too often we are taught to over-accommodate. To do the right thing - but the 'right' thing can have a cost if it's not your right thing.
This festive season can be a tricky one for doing the 'right' thing. Often at the expense of self. You will intuitively know this, because you will find yourself resenting others, and feeling 'under' them. You will know you are doing something at your expense if you feel tired at the thought of what must be done, negative affect and emotions at the thought of what must be done or general overwhelm at the thought of what must be done. The trick to understanding yourself is about energy. If your energy is depleted by something it is a sure sign that it is a cost to you. To understand this better, think about doing something that is interesting or engaging to you, and think about the feeling you have in your body at doing that. It will be a positive, energy expanding/growing experience.
Often we are not sure what it is we really want, or it is something that won't fit in with what others want, and so we won't listen to ourselves. In doing this we place unnecessary strain on the relationship with ourselves, and our relationships with others.
Here's how to find your own truth and voice:
- Notice the overwhelm/energy draining feelings
- Create a quiet space
- Ask yourself what it is you would like to do. This may take some time as you will feel the waves of 'shoulds'. These are important to recognise as this is where you will notice the voices of your family, friends, colleagues and bosses. What you are looking for though, is your own voice.
- Ask yourself the same question again if you need to, once you have heard the 'shoulds'.
- Listen for the answer
When the answer bubbles up, as it always does, listen. Don't override it with 'I can'ts'. Many talk to me about their experience the first time(s) they do this. Most often they have the surprised/not surprised experience. Their own truth is inherently understandable, but it is absolutely the right thing for them. This is understandable as it is their truth, so it's familiar to them, but they have been denying themselves their own voice, so it is a shock that they have an opinion on what it is that they want. Particularly as it is usually at odds with what is expected of them.
"What do I want" is a question we rarely ever ask ourselves, particularly in our key relationships. "What do I need to do" is the question we use most. In doing what is right for you, it allows you to live your most authentic self. In your most authentic self there is peace. If you are following that voice within you can't go wrong. Even if something happens that you think you don't want to happen, such as the end pf a relationship, or a job not working out - you still can't go wrong, not if you are doing what is right for you.
If you can't do it any differently, you will have no regrets about the outcome reached, simply by honouring yourself.
Ergo, there is no wrong thing. And that right there - that my friends is peace. (Well the beginning of peace, anyway... ). Oh and one last thing - you can still honour and love your family and community - just find a way to do it that energises you. Stop doing things that aren't in your best interests in the name of 'should'.
How do you honour yourself?