It’s common for me to work with people who are floating through life largely disconnected from themselves. I see the disconnect reflected in their lack of awareness of what inspires, motivates, or energises them. Equally I see it in those who struggle to identify or explain their strengths as well as what and how they want to improve. It seems a growing number of people are unable to respond to questions about what they aspire to achieve in their future let alone the strategies they have in place to help them get there.
Being connected is about being aware of our own thoughts and feelings and being able to make conscious choices about how we respond; all essential ingredients to enabling us to be the masters of our own destiny.
I remember a time when I believed how I felt was just an automatic response! I had no idea that I had the power to choose my feelings. In fact I argued loudly to anyone who would listen, that I deserved empathy because I was a victim of the feelings that had been inflicted upon me by someone else. Those around me who equally protested the injustice of people ‘making them feel bad’ encouraged my victim mentality. They reinforced what seemed logical to me – it was impossible that I could make deliberate choices about how to think, feel and behave.
Like so many I have coached and advised over the years, I regularly gave all the power to other people. I took on board their opinions and I gave them more weight than my own. I chose to feel failure, fear, disappointment and anxiety just because of what other people thought, or at least what I thought they believed about me.
In my late teens my husband Kevin came into my life; he was the first person to teach me that I had the power to choose. To this day Kevin continues to help me remember that I alone influence my happiness through the choices I make. I know now that no one has the power to make me feel anything, to think anything or to behave in a way unless I choose to let them.
With practice we are all able to develop the ability to tune in and observe from an independent viewpoint both the thoughts that go through our minds and the feelings that run through our bodies. We can listen to the dialogue and debate that go on between various aspects of our own consciousness.
Over time we learn to hear the arguments that rage between the part of us that is optimistic and the voice of pessimism who wants to believe in failure. With experience we learn to notice when we say things like “maybe this horrible person I don’t like let alone respect, is indeed right, and I am a fool and destined to fail”. Once we know that conversation is underway, we then have the power to choose what to do with it. We can choose to either reject it, or accept it as the truth. If we accept it then our choice becomes do we feel OK about our chosen crappy truth, or punish ourselves again by deciding to despair over our failings or shortcomings.
Awareness is what enables us to choose; choose what we will think, how we want to feel and how we will behave. Our ability to observe the conversations in our mind allows us to choose which aspect of our self we will give power to. Which part of us will we allow to determine our path, make our choices and infuence our happiness? Once we can really see ourselves we can learn to be objective in how we assess our thinking and feeling skills. We can learn to see the feelings we are choosing to hang on to and the actions we are choosing to take – both reveal the quality of the choices we are making.
Ultimately, being connected allows us to know what makes our heart sing, what we don’t like and how we typically respond in certain circumstances. Armed with this understanding we are better equipped to make choices that support us to live fulfilling lives.
While awareness is needed first, making the right choices is also influenced by our ability to live our lives courageously. Making the right choice, the choice that will ultimately make the biggest positive difference, isn’t always as easy as it may seem. For example listening to our optimist self when Mr or Ms Pessimistic is screaming abuse at you can be confronting.
The conversations can become nasty, especially as we strengthen in our resolve to take the optimistic path. This is when we might hear a part of you say “don’t be stupid”, “you don’t have the experience for this” or ” you dont know any more than them – why would they listen to you?” You might even hear “You’ll be sorry, you probably need to stop and think about this more”. So goes on the long list of things our pessimistic self will tells us when we are tempted to step out of our comfort zone. When we start to take on roles that demand more, that ask us to be an even better version of ourselves, it takes both awareness and courage to make the right choices in these moments.
It’s not all just about ‘me’ either; being connected with our self benefits more than just the quality of our own life. Being connected means we are also more likely to engage well with other people including being a positive influence on their success and happiness. Simply understanding what ‘presses our buttons’ for example, allows us to develop the skills necessary to maintain composure, respond well and ultimately have a positive impact on the strength of our relationships.
It is our ability to connect with our self and make the right choices about how we think, feel and behave that has the greatest influence on both our happiness and success. Yes it is true that other people can make a difference, but only we have the power to choose how we experience our lives. Knowing and loving who we are, being our own teacher, being able to challenge our own beliefs and perceptions in a way that allows us to grow, are some of the many benefits of more deeply waking up to ourselves and consciously living our lives.