It’s a question I had never been asked. My beautiful doe eyed therapist sat across from me, her life seemed like a distant promise. She had an amazing wardrobe, a blossoming career, a loving husband and was pregnant with their first child. I had just ended a seven-year relationship, had no idea what I wanted to do and my bank account was seriously hurting.
So when she asked me, “who are you living for?” It shook me. Who was I living for? I had spent the last seven years of my life worried about the guy I was dating, whether or not my parents approved of my life, what my friends thought. I had spent money on things I didn’t need, took jobs I didn’t like, even wore clothes I hated, all because I thought it was what I was suppose to do. It all begged the real question…who was I?
In an attempt to share a little wisdom and save you some sanity, here are the three biggest lessons I learned in the year following that visit. All about staying true to your own unique spirit and living a life that truly serves you.
“I had to realize with my own life, the situations I had found myself in, the relationships I had, that I was responsible for my part. Even from the beginning…my part was that I had put myself there.” Kim. R, 28.
In the beginning it feels like a cheap shot, like you need to shift the blame onto anything other than yourself. By taking responsibility for your choices, actions and life, you begin to take back your power…and it is life changing. It takes away all of your excuses and puts you back in charge. Yes, it can be terrifying because when you make a mistake, and trust me you will, it means it’s all your fault…and the hard truth is that sucks. The upside however is that when you succeed, the same is true and the victory is oh so sweet. When you find yourself saying yes to an event that you absolutely do not want to go to or listening to that one friend complain about the same old thing, you can now realize you made a very small but significant choice to put yourself there. Luckily you also have the power to say no and walk away. It takes practice but choosing your happiness first doesn’t make you selfish, it keeps you healthy, happy and sane.
“At first I kept wanting to invite other people along, I was afraid to try new things on my own. When I finally took myself out on a date, alone, I couldn’t get enough! It allowed me to figure out what I loved and what I didn’t without the pressure of having to act a certain way. It was very freeing.” Holly S, 32.
It’s true, at first dating yourself feels weird even for us introverts, like the whole world knows your alone on a “date” and stares. Eventually a huge serge of relief replaces the feeling of fear, making you ask yourself “why didn’t I do this sooner?” It is an act of self-love. Choose one special thing to do each week. It can be something you’ve always wanted to try, like taking a paint class or something simple like taking a walk down a new trail. One of my all time favorite self-date’s was just going to the grocery store and buying vanilla ice cream, fresh in season strawberries and watching a good chick flick. Spending time alone while exploring new activities allows you to connect with who you are and recharge. It means you don’t have to do anything other than what you want; it’s an hour of unfiltered you-time.
“I used to lay in bed at night and go over my day and that worked for a little bit but now I journal every morning about how I feel or the progress I’m making and just get out all the…clutter. My days feel so much lighter now.” Carrie C, 23.
Taking a daily inventory of how you feel in each area of your life helps to bring everything into focus. It forces you to become aware of how you feel about your friendships, relationship, career and how you spend your time. Often it acts as a catalyst for greater more fulfilling change and allows you to be grateful for what brings you happiness currently. It can be done while sipping a latte in the morning or while comfortably under the covers before bed. You’ll be able to think clearer, make wiser decisions and do it all from a place of self-care.
The year after my breakup was challenging. The biggest take away was learning that once you allow yourself to be free, stop making decisions for other people and truly love yourself everything changes. The standards you set in your life not only for how others treat you but how you treat yourself becomes higher and the universe brings you wonderful gifts – hello law of attraction! Remember you are a beautiful goddess and each of us deserves to live our best life. So I ask you, who are you living for?