Reclaiming your life is a journey to wholeness. It’s a choice about priorities. It’s a choice about being aligned with what really matters to you. It’s a choice about saying “Yes” to life.
Part of the challenge is to balance the demands of our professional life with the need and desire to have time for what gives us joy and happiness. In stressful times it’s more difficult to maintain that balance. When we’re out of balance our beliefs as to what is possible seem limited which creates more stress. Some of us despair over finding a way out of our dilemma.
There is no question that we lead busy lives. We are consumed by our to do lists and responsibilities. Many of us feel as if we don’t have enough time. In our minds, time is like a commodity that is becoming scarce. The truth is that not having enough time is a form of scarcity much like not having enough money.
Many people live in a constant state of anxiety because they believe that they can’t get it all done. To compensate, they develop the habit of working longer and harder. This only intensifies the problem, because now they don’t have enough time for the things that bring them joy and happiness.
The good news is that you can reverse this cycle, but it
takes courage. Courage because making this change involves leaving what you know and are familiar with to enter the world of the unknown. The fear of exploring the vast unknown keeps many of us trapped in unfulfilling careers or relationships, and keeps us from exploring new opportunities. We cling to what we know.
In order to avoid conflict, we censor what we say and how we show up in the world. In a personal relationship we fear that if we say what’s on our mind things will become uncomfortable. In the workplace, we fear that if we say what’s on our mind we’ll end up being let go or making less money. So we say “Yes” to working late and “No” to our deepest longings.
It is this fear that keeps hidden some of our deepest needs, feelings and insights. It’s only when we fully express ourselves that we are our most authentic. Being less than authentic deprives others of our gifts and contributions. It takes courage to live an authentic life and to be true to ourselves.
It requires us to say “No,” which for many of us is difficult because it stirs up that big fear of confrontation. The truth is, you are always saying “No” in some way. If you say “Yes” to working late, you might be saying “No” to what really matters to you.
You end up agreeing to live someone else’s life and resenting it because you are saying “No” to yourself.
There is also the moral, social, and cultural conditioning that doing for others is much more appropriate than taking time for ourselves. Dean Shrock, Ph.D. in his ground-breaking book, Why Love Heals, has given us a good rationale for doing more of what we really want to do. He noted that recent studies with Cancer and AIDS patients supported the notion that patients who had a better recovery had a greater ability to say, “No,” to what they didn’t want to do. They were able to reverse the tendency to try to please others rather than meeting their own needs.
Most of us are great at keeping agreements with other people, such as keeping an appointment or doing something we agreed to do. However when it comes to keeping agreements with ourselves, such as exercising, eating healthy foods, or engaging in a spiritual practice, we don’t have the same commitment.
There’s a simple reason why this is so. We have not made keeping agreements with ourselves as important as keeping agreements with others. What we don’t realize is that keeping agreements with ourselves is the key to connecting with our personal power.
Most likely if you are reading this article you don’t have a problem keeping your appointments and agreements with other people because that would be a violation of your personal code of ethics.
What if you made a paradigm shift? What if not keeping your word to yourself was also a violation of your personal code of ethics?
Imagine how powerful a shift in perspective this could be. There would be a greater likelihood that whenever you said you were going to do something you would do it. If you said that you were going to exercise three times a week, there would be no question that you would exercise. If you said that you were going to eliminate pastries from your diet, they would be gone. If you said that you were going to meditate in the morning you would do it. It would be the rare occasion when you didn’t keep your word to yourself.
When you are in alignment with your code of personal ethics, a shift in consciousness occurs. You are not afraid to embrace your truth and to let others know what that truth is.
On the path of impeccability, you walk in freedom. You can no longer pretend. What you tell yourself and others has to change. You can no longer use as an excuse, “I don’t have enough time.” You take responsibility as to whether or not you want to do something, or if you want to get together with a particular person. You’re no longer able to honestly say, “I can’t afford it.” Instead you have to decide whether the potential benefit is worth what you have to do, or give, to get it. In the process of embracing this new and expanded consciousness, you reclaim your power and honor yourself.
Let me know what you notice when you consistently keep your agreements with yourself.
Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He is the author of, Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes.