The word ‘lifestyle’ is often attached to those things that ‘seem’ to empower us as women but quite often do the opposite—I’m talking aspirational, not inspirational.
According to our media, you need to have the mansion, shiny car, 2.4 perfect children, an amazing post pregnancy body, the hair that says, ‘you’re worth it’ and certainly no flaws—no wrinkles, blemishes, difficult emotions & definitely no confusion. You must want and strive to attain IT ALL!!
That’s not a lifestyle, that’s capitalism at it’s worst, preying on our weak spots—sometimes crushing our real dreams.
You aren’t here to ASPIRE to anything, you are here to INSPIRE—yourself first of all and quite possibly & probably you’ll end up inspiring other people too with your real, heart felt, creative, sometimes messy but ultimately beautiful HUMAN LIFE.
Ok, lecture over.
Your desires are wonderful & their whispers are very much worth listening to. That’s the authentic part of you communicating.
How can you tell the difference between aspiration and inspiration? “How can I know that what I want is from the real authentic me & not just because I’ve been advertised to?”
Well, we’re still influenced by our society but the easiest way to tell is if you feel you SHOULD attain ‘that thing’ (as opposed to a real need or desire) & if striving for ‘that thing’ is creating emotional pain (not the kind of pain that’s part of growth on the way to the mountain top but the kind that feels like it’s holding you back).
Does it bring up feelings of inadequacy to not have it? If it does, this might be aspiration over inspiration. Why do you want it—to make you look good enough in other people’s eyes or because your soul cries out for it?
Tara felt she SHOULD buy a house, she was in her early 40’s, had a good job & 2 children. “It’s the sensible thing to do”—that’s what her mother said, over & over again. Part of her genuinely wanted to stop renting & have a space she could decorate in her own taste. But the housing market in her area had sky rocketed-most houses were now out of many people’s reach.
She tried moving, was even offered jobs in other areas but still loved where she lived. The issue was keeping her stuck, locked in limbo—unable to see passed it to any other options for her life whilst feeling like a failure.
When Tara stopped shaming herself & let go of the idea that she HAD to buy a house to be good enough—her ideas and dreams started to flow again. The door of possibility opened and the light poured in.
What she really wanted was to keep the idea of owning a house in the future but not let it dictate & crush her other dreams—she wanted to look at her whole lifestyle. So, now she’s now doing just that & exploring her options.
And that’s how you know what you want, you’ll have LONGING—the kind that makes you take on any obstacle because the prize is worth it or the kind that you’ve kept a secret (but never seems to go away) when you let truly yourself listen, just a little bit.
I love your longings! They tell me who you are. They tell you what you want for your life (& most probably what you’re here for).
And sometimes you have confusion or indecision too—you just don’t know what you want. That’s authentic too. It’s the space that opens before something exciting comes in to fill it.
This one doesn’t sound glamorous, I know. Jigsaw puzzles conjure images of rainy afternoons in childhood spent with your Gran.
However, I see your life like a beautiful jigsaw with important pieces, that when you fit them together well, in a way that truly suits you, can really flow.
Some people have simple jigsaws-there’s the basics: a job, a romantic relationship, a hobby they love, some friends, maybe their kids with enough money in the bank. You get the idea.
They like & prioritise stability, the ‘known’—they might be satisfied with this for many years.
There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. But I’m guessing stability alone isn’t enough for you. You wouldn’t be reading this if it were.
Not that you don’t want some or all of those things.
But you possibly wonder to yourself, why is it that you can’t quite feel satisfied in the same way, why you’re restless, always searching, why you want something more or different for yourself. Why you feel like you don’t quite fit. Read more here on this, if you like in my blog, “Why I can’t settle”. The 3 Reasons Why You Can’t.
Your splendid jigsaw feels so different, ever evolving & has so many pieces and sometimes even holds pieces within pieces. Take work for example, there’s the job you’re doing now, but also the business you’d like to start in the future & the training that you took & the voluntary work you do on the side plus that occasional weekend work you do that just lights you up right now….or something along those lines.
When Emma came to me, she was a bored paralegal in New York, loving the city but feeling underpaid and under stimulated-she LONGED for so much more from her life now and in the future. For now she wanted a much better paid, more exciting paralegal job but alongside that she wanted to develop as a writer (she dreamed of writing auto biographically inspired novels) plus eventually owning her own business allowing her to travel to poorer countries to help build communities & schools. As a single Mum, she also wanted to be an inspiration for her daughter.
And this was just the ‘work’ piece of her puzzle/area of her life! She also wanted her authentic lifestyle to contain a loving partner, a dance class & much else besides.
Sound a little bit more like you?
We renewed her sense of possibility & she got to work. In the last couple of years, she managed to more then double her pay eventually being head hunted for the role of head of the department of an exciting media law firm. She took an intensive writing course & is creating the best work of her life, finally having the courage to pitch to magazines. She’s working on future business & charity ideas with her fiancé (whom she met shortly after we started our coaching).
Her jigsaw will grow and change but she has the lifestyle for now that she’s loving. The pieces are fitting together so much better then they did & there’s lots of room for growth.
And most of us, most of the time are working on at least 1 or 2 pieces of our personal puzzle. Although, like me in the past (you can read my story here) you may have experienced crisis when it feels like the whole thing has fallen apart (which often precedes a big breakthrough with the right support).
An authentic lifestyle isn’t for the faint hearted.
The truth is that creating a lifestyle that comes from your heart & soul requires courage. It requires keeping going. It requires seeing new possibilities—even the smallest of potentials—in the dark places, where you feel trapped & backed into a corner. “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the courage that a soldier needs.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. There WILL be bumps in the road, there will be set backs, plans won’t always work out but this doesn’t mean you’re going in the wrong way. Read more in my blog about ‘Why Obstacles Don’t Mean You’re Going in the Wrong Direction’. That, my friend, is the way of the warrior-ess, it’s part of what philosopher Joseph’s Campbell calls ‘The hero’s journey’ & it’s the path to enlightenment—it’s also the truth for anyone whose ever started a business, built a creative career, dared themselves to go dating or even just had some small tiny private dreams. In fact, the more courage it takes, the more it requires you to innovate, to see things from another angle, explore & try another time or another approach—the more likely you are to already be living your authentic life. Remember too that all of your emotions in response to these ups & downs are natural. There will be days when you’ve just had enough! So many personal development books seem to suggest that it’s your fault if you can’t be constantly positive. Sometimes the tricky emotions help you to know what you really feel and need next. Read my blog: ‘Feel what you feel’ for more on this.
The truth is that creating a lifestyle that comes from your heart & soul requires courage. It requires keeping going. It requires seeing new possibilities—even the smallest of potentials—in the dark places, where you feel trapped & backed into a corner.
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the courage that a soldier needs.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
There WILL be bumps in the road, there will be set backs, plans won’t always work out but this doesn’t mean you’re going in the wrong way. Read more in my blog about ‘Why Obstacles Don’t Mean You’re Going in the Wrong Direction’.
That, my friend, is the way of the warrior-ess, it’s part of what philosopher Joseph’s Campbell calls ‘The hero’s journey’ & it’s the path to enlightenment—it’s also the truth for anyone whose ever started a business, built a creative career, dared themselves to go dating or even just had some small tiny private dreams.
In fact, the more courage it takes, the more it requires you to innovate, to see things from another angle, explore & try another time or another approach—the more likely you are to already be living your authentic life.
Remember too that all of your emotions in response to these ups & downs are natural. There will be days when you’ve just had enough! So many personal development books seem to suggest that it’s your fault if you can’t be constantly positive. Sometimes the tricky emotions help you to know what you really feel and need next. Read my blog: ‘Feel what you feel’ for more on this.
Your sense of purpose might come from a deep desire to express your creative gifts , a sense of calling or it might come from your spiritual connection.
Many spiritual teachings refer to some of us as ‘lightworkers’—here to raise the vibration of the planet & we have a sense of mission, of purpose about helping or healing in some way.
We also have a sense of wanting to grow, to get as much learning & joy & experience as we possibly can in this life on whatever themes we’ve pre-incarnationally chosen.
We want to squeeze the energy of our souls into this human body & express that as much as possible whilst being here—create authentic lives that reflect who we really are, that sustain & inspire us . And I feel those things when I meet people, you have your own distinct energy (like a fingerprint) that you bring and no matter how well paid you are in a job, how good a relationship seems on the surface, if it doesn’t express who you really are (& there aren’t enough other significant ways that you are doing that), you may never feel fulfilled—you may feel like your soul is slowly dying inside.
I’m sure you know that feeling, I certainly do.
In my early 20’s I bounced from job to job feeling trapped, bored and deeply dissatisfied. I was occasionally offered opportunities that other people would be delighted about but I just wanted to curl into a ball and cry. “How could this be my life?”, I wondered. No one had ever really talked to me about choosing from my true talents, I was just trying to survive. Luckily I eventually found my way to work I love.
Now, whether my feelings about the soul float your boat or not—there are just certain personality types that need & love to live a creative & an adventurous life to some degree: the artists, creatives, those with portfolio careers, the natural explorers, the healers, those that have learned that life is too short for it not to fulfilling & fun. Read more here.
You’re most probably also a Highly Sensitive Person too which means you’re a deep thinker, need a sense of purpose & to teach or create.
In the past I flip flopped from cynical (it’s incredibly hard to do your calling) to idealistic (everyone can absolutely do what they desire & totally express the energy of their soul—all their dreams and longings can be fulfilled).
Diagram above taken from this wonderful TED-ed blog.
I began to realise that perhaps the truth was more like the above–that our calling is a mix of who we are on a soul level but also what we’ve learned during our very real life that can help others (or entertain them–which is also a form of healing). And that also takes into account the world we inhabit .
The challenge & wonder of being human is limitation. Not limitation in the sense that we SHOULD stay in the boring job, unsatisfying relationship or in thinking that this is it for me forever.
But limited in that we are part of a cultural & financial system—we do sometimes take the job for the money for a little while or wait to move house until the child has left school. Compromise and acting on step by step plans have to happen sometimes.
The challenge-the wonderful adventure is finding the way to express your soul, to fit those jigsaw pieces, to forge forward & sometimes innovate in spite of or because of limitations of ‘the real world.’
And sometimes magic & manifestation happens beyond all expectation.
I was recently stuck in a very limited seeming housing situation—it had me frustrated, tired & feeling like I was hitting a brick wall. It took some determination but some magic eventually occurred. You can read about it here.
A good friend of mine who is also a talented lawyer recently had her own bit of magic. She decided to quit her job in Paris, move back to the UK & become a writer. Inspired by her own life coach, she made a manifestation board and decided to aim high adding the logo of BBC radio 4 on there.
She began writing film reviews for free for an online website. This lead to being given free press passes to screenings and 6 months later to a screening event where, after having consumed the free wine & feeling tipsy, she was introduced out of the blue to a producer from Radio 4.
It took a few months but she finally got the courage to pitch a few ideas for their Film Show—he loved them & one day she found herself walking into a recording studio (just after a year of beginning her writing career) to record her segment of the show. She was nervous but delighted—her hard work, courage plus the little bit of magic she’d requested had paid off. She’s continuing to take on the world!
As I’ve mentioned, you’ll probably have to be brave, be a bold soul—maybe take some risks to your finances, your heart—to step away from what friends or family think. From those SHOULDS.
To do that you’ll probably also need to grow some great boundaries—believe me, this is one of the biggest things I’ve had to learn about.
If in any way you’re a people pleaser, put other’s before you & if your value has felt like it’s about what you give—this is especially true for you. The sensitive folk, the ‘lightworkers’, those with big hearts & those whose childhoods were about supporting parents or the family first (your needs where left behind or unseen) most need to be given permission (mostly by ourselves) to say, ‘No’ sometimes, to not always be the responsible one, to do what you feel may be ‘selfish’ but actually is just sensible & focus on creating your life.
Of course, it’s amazing to be kind, it’s wonderful to go out of your way, it’s awesome to have empathy but find your balance. Know your own patterns around over giving or absorbing other’s energy. You can get more help here in my blog, ‘Are you a relationship merger?’
There’s a kind of doubly tricky thing here—those of us that want this authentic lifestyle are often sensitive souls—we feel things deeply, we feel rocked by change, we don’t like to stand on that stage or risk our hearts for crazy love. We’re not natural warriors except that to some degree we need to be to push forward to create what we came here to create.
Some of us are wounded. We had tricky childhoods ( you could read my Psychologies article ‘Do you have a difficult mother?’ if you like) that didn’t build our confidence, that didn’t reinforce listening to our own wisdom & seeing the strength of our gifts. We might have taken some significant knocks from life since—things that have floored us for a while, taken the wind out of our sails perhaps we’ve had health issues or terrible break ups with loved ones or deaths or failed businesses or loneliness or financial difficulties or all of the above…
We are still called to fight for more, to strive for our soul food, for a life that we absolutely love and want to get out of bed for, to do projects that count and express creative gifts and raise children and know that when we take our last breaths we will have really lived. We will have faced our fears one by one, taken the opportunities, fitted the jigsaw pieces together in a way that makes sense to us (not necessarily to anyone else)….
It is these wounds, these knocks that make us who we are, nothing went wrong (even if these things feel too hard to bear sometimes), they are the what makes us grow, what makes us stronger and what gives us the clarity we need to find the way forward that will matter the most to us. They may create our calling–the thing we see needs our help or our particular brand of creativity in the world. And sometimes it’s just part of being human, being here on Earth at this time of so much change.
You don’t need to be anyone else. You don’t need to be better or different or more perfect or even have more resources (as much as I wish I could win the lottery some days!).
You are exactly where you need…what matters is what you do next.
How authentic is your lifestyle? Is it ‘YOU’ enough? Which aspects need a little attention?
Here’s a lovely exercise:
Here are all the pieces of the jigsaw/aspects of your life listed below (& please add your own, as many as you like) & you may need sub headings (the pieces in pieces e.g voluntary work under ‘Work’ or ‘Dating’ under Partnership ):
Write down what already feels good under each one & then what you LONG for-remember there’s no need for ‘shoulds’ but what your heart truly desires. Even if you have random or multiple ideas.
How many areas do you have that don’t feel so good now? 1, 2 or more? What needs work? What needs clarity or a plan?
If you like, you can choose one area for further examination. So say, it’s work, how do you feel in your job/work now, do you have a good future plan, do you wish for some training or to begin writing your novel at weekends?
Most of us don’t have the time to really think and explore, so if you can give it yourself now-then that’s great!
Does it over all, feel like your life is truly an expression of you & of your soul (bearing in mind that we’re always learning & that sometimes there are real ok compromises that have to be made for now)? As you look at it, do you feel like you have an authentic lifestyle?
If not, don’t worry–it’s never too late to make a change (read my blog: ‘Playing your long game. It’s not too late for you’ if you need some encouragement though or get in touch for a FREE discovery session).
Thanks for reading & good luck with your continuing adventure!