I posted this picture recently on my Facebook page which got a lot of response and created a debate. I wanted to discuss the concept of what this means as perhaps it might resonate with you. It was brought on by an article I had read where on the our deathbed one of the 5 regrets was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, and not the life others expected of me.”
Whose life are you living? Do you live to please others at the expense of living a life which reflects your very own values, and which pleases you? Is your life directed by the expectations of others or by chance?
Many of us are taught early on that the needs of others should always come before our own, and we bend ourselves to accommodate accordingly. I am sure you can relate to this scenario: if you decided to do something for yourself being labeled “only selfish people look out for themselves” and shamed into believing that taking care of what you might need in that moment is not important. But there is nothing healthy about silently keeping the peace, while quietly giving yourself an ulcer from growing resentment. Learning to express your own needs, clearly and unapologetically, is the first step towards living a happier life. When we can do this, we become much more pleasant to be around, and more tolerant of others who have needs different from our own. Learning to distinguish the difference between a should and want statement is a good start. I want to go to the gathering this evening is always preferable to I should go to this gathering. One is a choice, the other duty. Notice how any activity that stems from choice feels uplifting, while those that stem from obligation feel deadening. Are you saying YES because you want to, or because you’re afraid to say NO?
In my coaching business, I often see people who are dying a little every day because the life they are living on the outside clearly does not match who they are on the inside. They tell me they’re exhausted, they feel disconnected, not sure who they are anymore and are overwhelmed with obligations. At different times on my own journey I have felt this too but with self- awareness & guidance I came to understand and change that which was not working, however painful it was in the moment. It takes courage to ask ourselves difficult questions & to take a good look at our fears and what we have become. But in the end it can lead us to be more courageous, more present, more connected to our lives and the people we share it with. We have to decide if the pain of remaining exactly where we are is worth more than the pain of change.
Standing true to your beliefs can be lonely at times but you are true to your calling when you live with the Courage to be Yourself.