Stop measuring your success and happiness with other people’s rulers.
By the time people approach the ages of 40, 50, 60, and so on.
They have been around long enough to experience what works for them, and what doesn’t. What they thought they needed to be happy might not matter as much as they thought once upon a time. This can be a confronting and confusing time. The question, “Who am I and what do I really want?” becomes an in your face, gnawing need because time feels like its beginning to run out.
People really start to wonder: “Am I really getting the most out of my life?”
“Am I really being myself at all or just who I thought I needed to be to succeed, be loved, fit in, and not make waves?”
I have had the privilege of working with amazingly smart, successful, deeply caring, creative people that have carried old programming from their past within them for so long they are sick of it.
They are done living for everyone else or letting what other people think rule their choices.
They are sick of not being fully themselves.
Sick of not feeling good enough- regardless of years of accomplishments.
Sick of caring what other people think, and making choices based on the external validation of others.
Sick of fear.
Sick of the un-lived life.
And some even get sick, and they know, deep within, it is their body’s way of telling them to stop. Stop whatever pattern is preventing them from wholly and completely being who they really are.
This moment happened for me in my 20’s, I had already gone through a few different traumatic life events- a car accident resulting in chronic pain, my dad going to jail, my formative years wading through dysfunctional home circumstances- that I had a lot of crap to contend with that was a lot more challenging than if a boy called me back or what to wear on the first day of school. I had some deep life stuff that could either break me, or make me.
I knew there had to be a life beyond feeling broken and not good enough. I knew I could create my life different than my upbringing.
Essentially I had my midlife awakening early.
I awakened to the concept that life could be different than what it had been. Different from the reality most of the people around me just seemed to accept. I sought out my own healing for years, and in the process got a PhD from life school (and many actually schools) about all things physical, mental, emotional and Spiritual. I had very simple goals: I wanted to feel like I could breathe in the morning and that I could be peaceful at night. I would wake up in the mornings in University freaking out that, “I was behind, there was so much to do.” Everything felt big, and it was all on me.
The buzzing thoughts in my head would rush in to tell me I’m a loser and I need to work hard to prove that I’m not. Then the list of things to do and be that day would crowd out everything else. I had to “be on.” I was exhausted before 8am each day.
I learned all that crap, that crap playing on replay in my mind about not being good enough, was just old recycled crap I had not learned to let go of or even question if it was true in the first place. Most of it wasn’t even mine. Most of us are simply replaying what other people have done; family, society, culture, history.
We are afraid of being found out. We are afraid if people really saw us….
So we perform for the world that we are good enough as long as we keep up.
I eventually learned.
I didn’t need to earn worth.
There’s nothing to prove or earn- we are all worthy at our core.
All of us can reclaim this too.
The teachers I needed came into my life like clock work. And I was a willing student. Even if I was confronted, uncomfortable, insecure, or scared, I did the work of unpacking the programming within me, that I knew wasn’t really me.
I still wasn’t quite sure who I was without my programming- the good girl, the strong one, the smart one, the nice person, the star, the reliable friend.
Who was I if I wasn’t desperately trying to hide the parts of myself that I deemed unloveable- angry, messy, fat, lazy, needy, intolerant, impatient, mistake making….?
I started to let life teach me which lead me to trust myself on a much deeper level. From this core I could create my life to align to what mattered to me, the real me. From here confidence was easy because there was nothing to prove to others. It’s easy to share yourself with others and the world when you aren’t afraid of them seeing who you are.
Here are my main tips to begin becoming more YOU again.
1. Give Yourself A Break- Take the Pressure off
Have some grace for yourself. We’ve been taught to be so harsh to ourselves.
We look back at past moments and cringe, and then berate ourselves for whatever it is we did or didn’t do.
People tend to play events over in their heads in an attempt to avoid feeling weak, or helpless, or hurt again in the future.
Our mind will play scenarios over and over, thinking it is helping us.
It doesn’t help! It is not a strategy. It is a tragedy. We lose out on our life right now, if we are replaying the past, nit-picking it or critiquing, or anxiously playing out scenarios in our minds. We are NOT here if we are over there, and back there, and planning for this or that, or that, and oh yeah, that other thing…
This pattern is futile.
The past is the past. Mulling over it and marinating in crap thoughts won’t help what happened. It just mucks up your life now. Your life right now is the most valuable thing.
Right now, you get to manage the thoughts between your ears, which will determine how you experience life- now. Let the past go, and embrace it as the path that brought you to this moment.
Embrace your innocence.
We are always doing the best we can, where we are, with what we have.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Have some grace.
What you need to remind yourself about daily, is that YOU control the thoughts in your head. You can pick the ones you let run on and on.
You can retrain your mind by noticing your thoughts and gently, non-judgmentally shifting your gears to more beneficial thoughts, or just plain neutral thoughts. You have the power to effect your life experience moment to moment. Nothing can take that away from you.
2. Become Your Own Priority
This does not mean being selfish. When you know yourself and are tuned into your own needs you can be better for everyone else and much more productive in life.
Women in particular have been socialized to put everyone’s needs first as a form of being valued, and it is seen as synonymous with being a loving person.
Being a loving person has to start with you. Giving from obligation, or from expectation, can create resentment over time. In most cases, people that give and give rarely receive to the degree they give. This creates an imbalance.
If this is you, your inner truth will speak to you with irritation or anger to get your attention to tend to your needs: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I’ve written several articles about self care and matching it to your unique, individual needs, so I’m only going to touch on it here.
Do things everyday that make you YOU. Be mindful of what you say yes to when others require your time and energy. Check in with yourself, and listen to your body more. Also, let others in on your needs and how they can help you.
This will create a compound interest effect in your ability to know your own deep truth, so you can navigate life with confidence and true benevolence. Trying to be liked, is not loving. It isn’t even love. Loving and listening to yourself will give you a better return on your energy. You will be so full and fulfilled you won’t notice what other people are thinking at all.
For free self care tools go here: https://jennasmithcoaching.teachable.com/
3. Change Your Metrics to Match YOU
‘There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.’
This tip might be the main point of the article. But it has a lot to do with 1. Being more gentle on yourself and 2. Making yourself a priority in your life.
Most people measure their lives against others. In sports and other activities comparison can be a healthy spark of motivation, competition, and even fun. But, when it comes to being a human being, competition and comparison will corrode you. You need to follow your own success metrics.
What really matters to you?
What is valuable in your eyes?
Where do you want your time to be spent?
Who else is around you? Do they enhance your life,
Can you be you around others and in your life?
When you align your life to your own success metrics- measurements that matter to you- you will actually attain satisfaction. When you keep chasing someone else’s idea of success, you will never feel successful regardless of how much you succeed.
Success isn’t really success if you can’t feel it, and aren’t lit up by it. So make sure you get honest and truthful and tuned in with yourself, so you can feel excited on your journey and satisfied once you get there.