People often get the idea that they should figure out what they want in life, set their path and stick to the plan no matter what. If that is the course you took and are currently living a happy and fulfilled life, I’ll be completely honest, there is a part of me that is jealous. For myself and many others, the path we chose at an earlier age eventually started to not feel right.
I used the words “figure out” on purpose. Staying true to who we are is not something we can figure out. Our longings and truths cannot be found in our head. It sounds cliché and I ignored this advice for a long time because of it. Actually, it is anything but.
Many of us don’t figure out what we truly want in life all at once. Most people do not magically know who they want to be in life at the young age society deems they should. Our real truth is found on our own timeline.
So if we find ourselves bit by bit and we can’t find our path by looking outward, how do we know which path turns to take?
One way to connect with our truth is by getting in contact with our internal guidance system. For me, this system is an inner feeling or knowing. It is small. It doesn’t try to compete with the noise in my head that constantly tries to figure out what I should be doing or what the next step should be.
This feeling can show up in different ways for different people. When I am following my truth I feel excited at possibilities, at ease, and more trusting of the universe in general.
When I am not following my gut I feel stuck, run down, mistrusting and up against the world.
There is a fantasy out there that we have been through or will eventually have this one major breakthrough that throws us onto our unique life path and then every step we take from there is automatically in alignment with it.
While an event might wake us up to our truth, automatically staying on its path from then on is is a fairy tale.
Following your truth is a practice and in any practice, we fall off sometimes.
In meditation class I teach that the real practice is not clearing our mind but in continually coming back to our breath from where our mind takes us.
Coming back to our truth is a practice in the same way. The dance back after when we step off our unique path is where the real practice is. Learning the dance is necessary because we are human. As humans, we have the ability to rationalize away our inner guidance (our truth).
The dance can often look like this…
We feel excited or in tune with what we want in life and we set out on our way. Inevitably, we start listening to the noise in our head. We rationalize why we could never actually do what we long for.
“This is what I should do,” our mind tells us.
“This will never work,” it starts to scream.
We start to lose our footing even more when we listen to the noise outside of us.
“This is what I would do,” your friend says.
“This is the best way” says a co-worker.
All of a sudden the exciting path ahead of you looks like a six-way intersection. We can get caught up in the noise and make decisions from this place. Time goes by while we are caught up in this whirlwind. We make decisions from this place without even realizing it.
The good news is that your inner guidance system will never leave you. It is always there when you are ready. And here is where the opportunity to dance back to your path is.
The key here is to be really honest with yourself. What is the truth? Maybe you made some choices that do not feel good anymore (or maybe never did).
The first step is getting connected with that inner guidance system again.
If the path you are currently on does not feel aligned with this feeling, it’s useful information! Even if it is uncomfortable, explore how it feels to be where you are.
Do you feel drained? Stuck? How does your body feel? Is your back acting up? Is your jaw clenched?
Leave your head and really drop-in.
You can start to use this feeling as a way to signal yourself when you are stepping away from your truth, just as a chime reminds us to come back to our breath in meditation class. I relate everything to meditation or dance for good reason.
You may get really critical of yourself at this point. Again, this comes from our mind.
“Why did I ever think that was a good idea?!”
“I should know better!”
“I’m such an idiot!”
The good news is that each time we stray from our truth, we learn more about ourselves and have the opportunity to be in relationship with ourselves in a new way.
Maybe this time, we can give ourselves the same encouragement we would give someone else. We can intend be a little less hard on ourselves each time around.
The dance back isn’t always instant. We may have to spend some time getting back to our path but if we let that inherent feeling guide us, we will get there.
Sometimes we can’t make an outward change right away but we can always change our intention and view of our situation. This will lead to change on the outside as well.
Over time, each time we step off our path we start to become aware of it quicker. We don’t spend as much time not aligned because we are more aware of the signals in our body when we are ignoring our truth.
Each excursion from our path will be shorter and it can be much less painful if we learn how to come back to it again in a different way.
“What the hell did I do?!” can turn into “Whoops! I did it again”.
We not only become our own trusty guidance system but also our biggest support system when we stray from our truth which will happen. Try not to be so hard on yourself when it does.
I know, I’m writing this from the middle of a few month hiatus from ignoring my own inner guide.
My old way would be to stay caught in my mind, scolding myself about how I should know better by now.
“What the hell, Molly?!” What were you thinking?!”
But, fortunately, I have stepped on and off my path many times before and the internal cheerleading squad I have developed is congratulating and cheering me on.
“Way to go, Molly! A few months are way shorter than 5 years!”
And it is. Time to get my dancing shoes on!