Sometimes we do things that are bad for us. They directly contradict our values and our desires for ourselves.
We do them anyway for a number of reasons:
- They make us feel good.
- We think they could make us feel good if only…
- We aren’t ready to feel good so we subconsciously sabotage ourselves to feel bad again.
- We’re delusional, stubborn, insecure, and a wide variety of other fun traits that support poorly aligned decision-making.
You may also be totally tapped out on willpower.
You only get so much energy to restrict, restrain and contain yourself each day. Similarly, you only have so much energy to make decisions. (This is why the President wears the same few suits every day; ditto for Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and a slew of other, well-known successful people)
Willpower alone is not enough to reign ourselves into living in alignment. If it was, things like Weight Watchers, AA, and the after-New Year’s gym boom wouldn’t exist.
Here’s what I see as just a few of the layers we need to face to live in integrity with who we really are and how we want to feel:
- Know your values.
- Know what those values look like in practice.
- Know how you want to feel.
- Know how to embody those feelings on a daily basis.
- Know what actions & interactions move us closer to those feelings.
- Know what actions and interactions run counter to those feelings.
- Scrap all the people, tasks, and stuff that runs counter.
- Actively engage in what feels like how we want to feel.
Eight steps is a lot to keep track of – there lots of opportunity to go wrong. Especially since most of us don’t know the answers to 1-4 – the fundamental questions of values, ideal feelings, and how to bring them to life in your daily experience.
Because that’s the real problem.
It’s not that you don’t have the strength, knowledge, or courage to make better choices, it’s that you don’t know how to feel good.
You aren’t practiced in it.
And because you aren’t practiced at feeling how you want to feel, you’re not committed to living in alignment with your values – they’re just words on paper.
- You say you value respect, but you still hang on to that person who makes you feel invisible.
- You say you value loyalty, but you skip your morning workout and say yes to yet another commitment.
- You say you value compassion, but you take everything personally and promise you’ll “be better” next time.
You subtly contradict your desires without even realizing it, because you’re looking for your values outside of yourself.
We look to other people to fulfill our expectations and vision and, once they do, we think we’ll miraculously be there too.
But we won’t. Because we don’t know how to be.
We have to learn how to be in integrity with ourselves – with our own values and our own vision of ourselves.
Once we do, then all those opportunities to make bad decisions in steps 5-8 will slowly fall away.
You won’t have to decide what to do based on what you can’t & shouldn’t have.
You won’t need to use all your willpower to restrain yourself and resist what’s keeping you back.
You’ll make decision based on the vision that’s pulling you forward.
You’ll know what you want – you’ll know how it feels – and you’ll know how to act in integrity with those values and feelings.
So take the first step today; figure out what you value.
Here are a few questions to jumpstart your thinking:
- What qualities and characteristics do you admire and respect in others? Friends, partner, colleagues you admire.
- How do you want others to feel when they interact with you?
- What qualities represent you?
- If you were already exactly who you want to be, what qualities do you embody?
And then decide – do you want to spend your precious time and energy trying not to backpedal? Or would you rather spend it speeding towards your future?
Be free. Be brave. Be YOU!