Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tough Decisions

I attempt to base all of my decisions—even the seemingly mundane ones—on whether or not I'm being authentic to myself and my vision. Pursuing authenticity isn't easy, though. I get exhausted with it. There are moments when it seems too hard and complicated to be so intentional. There are even times when I wonder, "Just this once it will not be that big of a deal. It will not make that much of an impact if I falter today." Once I start bargaining and pleading, I have to remind myself that following ease and short-sighted comfort will only lead me to frustration and disappointment and neither of those are part of my plan.

We all change as a result of growth. Knowing we need to engage in a lifestyle change is not enough, though. For instance, when we decide to eat healthier or start an exercise regiment the change does not end with making that decision. After our minds are made up we must begin the perpetual process of changing our lives to support that decision. Eating that first healthier meal doesn't constitute eating healthy. Going to gym or on that run the first time doesn't make anyone a workout regular or a runner. It is the repeated action that indicates change. Tough decisions aren't tough because we only have to decide once. Tough decisions are so challenging and painstaking because they have to be made continually. Again and again, we have to choose between long-term benefits and short-lived satisfaction. It is the repeated act of choosing that makes the pursuit of authenticity, healthy eating habits, physical fitness, and emotional wellness so difficult and for some seemingly unattainable.

Emotional wellness is evasive for so many. Our emotional health is consistently tested and there are many reasons why we often fail those tests. How many times have we known that a relationship was no longer serving us well yet we did nothing? How long have we known that our lifestyle wasn't producing our best self, but ignored that knowledge? For me, the answers to those questions are "too many times" and "for far too long." What I knew differed greatly from how I behaved. One day I had enough. I was tired of making excuses for actions that did not serve me well or produce my best self. It was time to make a tough decision and stand by that decision daily.

What tough decision(s) are you facing? What have you known you needed to do, but avoided putting into action? I had to stop forcing myself to be in the company or in situations that made me feel less than who I am. Although I was certain that this decision would positively impact every area of my life, there have been occasions when I wanted go back on my promise. Even recently, I wanted to give in, but I have to remind myself that I made a decision to be authentic and my actions must continuously reflect my decision. It isn't always easy. It doesn't always produce immediate positive feelings. Some days you will think it's too hard. However, there is nothing more valuable and no cause more worthy than producing your best, healthiest self.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Discover Who You Are

Flic en Flac, Mauritius
I went through a phase of reading inspirational books with a spiritual slant. One of the terms that resonated with me most was transparency. Everyone described as transparent had openly and unapologetically shared her story, in all its glory and heartbreak. Reading these uplifting anecdotes and seeing the impact the authors made in the lives of others created a desire in me to do the same. I challenged myself to be transparent. However, I gave myself a charge I didn't fully understand. My focus was external and transparency is an internal journey.

On my misguided road to transparency I repeatedly told my story and could see the impact that a shared or similar background created. Sadly, it was rehearsed and I was on emotional autopilot. I told the story repeatedly with no emotional connection. I recited details, but lacked feeling. I told myself it was just getting easier to tell with the passage of time, but the truth was that I wasn't pursuing transparency, I was running from it. I convinced myself that reading the script of my life was synonymous with being open. Delivering the story was easier than engaging with my story. Stating the facts didn't demand attention. I detached so instead of being transparent—what I claimed I wanted—I was becoming emotionally impenetrable. It is impossible to make a real connection with anyone while failing to connect with self.

Eventually, I was no longer satisfied simply telling my story because I wanted to share my story. I grew tired of existing under the illusion of openness. I wanted to be open. I wanted to be transparent, honestly this time, so I had to start with me. I had to connect with my own story first.

An object is considered to be transparent when light can reflect or pass through it. Think of water, glass, air, and windows. You can see through them and when there's light, the light passes through. The same is true with us. When we make a commitment to self-discovery and are willing to connect to and engage with our truth then others can see us clearly and more importantly, we can clearly see ourselves and let our own light shine through.