In the midst of the push and pull of life’s demands, dealing with a pandemic, hustling and working, what most seems to get lost is ourselves. More specifically our true self. That is, not the self who we’ve trained to show up in the right way at the right time to get the job done. In fact, we may have gotten ourselves so much into a groove from an early age, needing to live up to some image of what we think is required of us, that we have never really paid attention to that inner part of ourselves that beats to its own drum.
We therefore live vicariously through free-spirited characters in movies, or those who fight boldly against the odds. We sing boisterously to songs about living your dream and make great plans to go on wild adventures. In reality at the end of the day we sink into quiet relief that it’s done, secretly hoping that something will change to make tomorrow better. But we do nothing to ring in the kind of changes that would make it any different.
Dido, an English singer and songwriter, most popular in the early 2000s, wrote and sang a song called Life is For Rent. One verse and then the chorus go like this:
I always thought that I would love to live by the sea
Travel the world alone and live more simply
I have no idea what’s happened to that dream
As there’s nothing really left here to stop me
It’s just a thought, only a thought
But if my life is for rent
And I don’t learn to buy
Well, I deserve nothing more than I get
Coz nothing I have is truly mine.
Although it’s been a tough year, it’s worth taking a moment to think about what ownership you want to take for yourself and your direction for your future.
Martha Beck is a well known author and life coach. In her book, Finding Your Own North Star, she talks about aligning your life direction with your essential self. Your essential self is that inner part of yourself that knows what is good and true for you. It is where your passion, your energy and your life purpose resides.
Beck describes how over the years we stop listening to our essential selves because it is often the wild, untamed part of us. It isn’t always happy to be told what to do, in other words, to sit still and behave! So we rather obey our social self which is that part of us that gets a good job, pays the bills, is responsible and doesn’t swear at the boss, at least not to his face! Beck’s point is we need both, however, many of us have probably given more power to our social self. So we lack the pure joy of life and the energy that we can plug into when we are connected to our true, essential inner being.
To help you check how connected you are to your essential self I include below the twenty-five statements Beck proposes indicate a full and vibrant life. Use these statements to evaluate how well you are living your best life. Assess whether you need to make some adjustments to your life plan in order to align yourself more fully with your essential self. You still have time!
To any of these statements you can answer: often, sometimes, rarely or never. If you do not answer “Often” to all of these questions you have room to grow! Here are the statements:
1. My life feels like a great adventure
2. I feel sure I can solve any problem I encounter
3. I have fun
4. I laugh out loud
5. I feel overwhelmed by gratitude
6. I spend time in comfortable solitude
7. I am fascinated by the things I’m learning
8. I feel deeply understood
9. Things just seem to work out for me
10. I get so involved in projects I forget to stop
11. I use my imagination
12. I do things I loved when I was a kid
13. People seem to enjoy being around me
14. I play
15. I feel perfectly safe
16. I get excited when it’s time to go to work
17. I feel mentally sharp and alert
18. I have really cool ideas
19. I love my body
20. I am flooded with love for other people
21. I do new things, or old things in new ways
22. I do what I want to, even if it’s scary
23. I am completely relaxed with other people
24. I feel intense physical pleasure
25. I am very pleased with myself in general
What can you change or tweak in what you think and do in order to be more fulfilled and energised in the course of the year ahead? Why not take some time out to reflect on if your life is for rent or if you are fully owning who you are and what you want your life to look like?
Finally, if you think of yourself on this same date 365 days from now what will be different? How will you know it was a year well lived?
Dido ends her song:
Well my heart is a shield
And I won’t let it down
While I am so afraid to fail
So I won’t even try
Well how can I say I’m alive?