If anything has gained traction in the world of health and wellness, it’s the phrase, “how to create the life you want.” In fact, if you search Youtube for this exact phrase, you’ll be greeted by hundreds of videos ranging from TEDx talks to “A Day in My Life” influencer vlogs. Needless to say, we’re all trying to grab the sweet slice of life, but how? Turns out, you just need to face your own faults first, and here's how (and why).
Take Accountability for your Actions As ego-pleasing as it is to blame others or outside circumstances for what we don’t have, that kind of behavior won’t get us closer to the life we want. Sometimes, it is our fault. Maybe our pride or ego got in the way of asking for help or admitting that we were wrong. It takes courage and humility to understand that we play a pivotal role in our own life, and the decisions that we make, especially the ones we’re not always conscious of, influence the direction of our life.
Observe Where You’ve Kept Yourself Small Life can truly be difficult sometimes, and it’s fair to feel like you’ve often had to fight your way forward; however, shift this fight-or-flight way of living and observe how you’ve kept yourself small. How do you speak to yourself? How do you allow others to treat you? Often, our own relationship to ourselves is a mirror to the world, and you get to choose what you’d like to project.
Understand your Triggers and Traumas This is a big one. Our emotions are the biggest tell-tale signs that we’re either operating from a place of love or fear. Every emotion can be boiled down into these two emotional roots, but so many of us don’t realize this when we’re angry, depressed, or disconnected. One of the biggest life-changing practices is to become aware of why we’re truly reacting in certain ways. Does it trigger a past wound? Does it bring up a childhood trauma? If so, this is potent knowledge! When you know where those emotions are coming from, it becomes much easier to process and control them.
Take Stock of Your Relationships and Support Systems Sometimes, the cold hard truth is: you have to let people go. Who you grew up with does not necessarily equal to who you’ll grow old with. This can be friends, family, or intimate partners. The hardest truth to accept is that not everyone is meant to go along the ride with us. When we’re growing and developing, certain people will leave you or force you to leave them. See this not as a loss, but as a lesson learned from those relationships.
Enforce Your Boundaries! A boundary is like a fine line in the sand between what you can accept and live with, and what you cannot. Boundaries are the hardest rule of life to enforce, but they are the strongest. They allow you to always keep true to yourself and your intentions; and they protect you from people, situations, and things that threaten to honor your integrity. Notice where your boundaries have been loose and with whom, and work to uphold them in the name of personal power.
Notice (and Release) Old Outdated Beliefs and Habit Patterns We all have outdated beliefs that are long overdue for releasing. Maybe you still hold certain beliefs that are prevalent in your family line or culture, but don’t serve you anymore. It could be around money, love, health, confidence, or success. No matter what these beliefs are, it is important to examine how you still carry them and live through them, even when they’ve long stopped helping you move forward. Think of this as your software upgrade. Are you still running on 1.0 and feeling the lag?
Observe Where You’ve Tolerated Too Much If you don’t tell people how you feel, they’ll never truly know. We like to assume and wish that they did, so that we didn’t have to have awkward conversations. The truth is, your silence often becomes tolerance for the things that you don’t need to tolerate. Period. This is your reminder to observe what and who you tolerate out of fear of confrontation or relationship. Enact your boundaries and release whatever is not coming back to you in equal value.
Accept that You’ve Been a Martyr for Too Long How many of us are the “First Responders” to our family or relationship situations? If something goes wrong, do we jump in without a second thought? For most of us, this is true. We put our own dreams and plans on hold because we have to commit to caretaking, protecting, and handholding our people through life. In some exceptions, being the caretaker is an honorable job; but observe where your martyrdom is depleting your own energy and keeping you from living the life you want. There is nothing selfish about wanting to put yourself first; but first, you must acknowledge the many times you’ve put yourself last.
Get Honest About Your Energy Exchanges When we’re interacting with other people — be it through services, conversations, physical help, etc. — we are exchanging energy. Even when we sit down to listen to a friend vent, we are giving them our energy of attention. In order for us to feel seen and heard, we need an equal exchange of that energy. If we’re constantly around people who are always taking our energy for granted, we need new people. At the very least, we need to speak our truth and uphold our boundaries so that we’re not giving more than we’re receiving.
Let People Live Their Own Life (So You Can Focus on Your Own) You can’t help people who don’t want to be helped. Likewise, you shouldn’t assume that people want help, or your help, for that matter. When we eagerly want to help others, we have to ask ourselves why we’re so dedicated to their cause. There’s nothing wrong with being a good friend or family member; but there are boundaries that we overstep when we assume that we know what’s best for someone. We also take away their power to learn through their own mistakes. Instead of investing so much into others, pour that love back into yourself! That’s how you grow.
Take Ownership of Your Skills and Talents Think about your top five accomplishments so far this year (yes, even in a pandemic). Can you genuinely be proud of yourself, no matter how “big” or “small” the accomplishment may seem? We don’t celebrate ourselves enough! In the wise words of Brene Brown, if you go out into the world believing that you’re not enough, you will almost certainly find validation of it. It’s not until you radically acknowledge that you have so much to offer that the world reflects this back to you in more abundance and love.
Reflect on How You’ve Contributed to Others (and How You Haven’t) Even a small gesture of kindness goes a long way; after all, this is another exchange of energy in a world that we so badly want to fill with love. You don’t have to shell out money bags to feel like you’re contributing to society. Often, it’s in the way we show up to the world — authentic, genuine, and willing to be vulnerable — that makes the biggest impact. Likewise, if we’re showing up half-way, we’re filling our spaces and communities with more energy that we hate. Observe how you speak to others and how you support people (or don’t). It’s not easy to admit that our actions, attitudes, and energy influence others in less than desirable ways. But when we know better, we can do better.
Examine Your Relationship with Yourself, Fully Nothing works until you do. Our bodies can’t get healthy if we don’t move; our minds can’t find peace if we don’t seek it; and our spirit can’t move us forward if we constantly shut it down. Our emotions are often the driver of our actions, so if you feel like you’re stuck and not living the life you want, check in with yourself. Are you making healthy choices? Are you trying something new? You don’t have to run a marathon and meditate for 2 hours every day to “succeed” at being healthy. But you do have to make an effort, and every small step is a tremendous leap to changing the habits that keep you stuck. The choice is always yours, as are the consequences and rewards.
Check Your Ego and Your Privilege You alone are responsible for your ego, and the dance of checking it and controlling it will be a lifelong adventure. To fully step into a life that you want, you have to constantly question the old stories and narratives that your ego can conjure; because your ego operates out of those triggers and traumas, and it never wants to admit that it’s wrong. That’s why it’s your duty to steer it back into the lane when it starts to drift. No one else can do this for you. Likewise, add your privilege to this checklist. Many of us have opportunities to live our best life because of circumstances and upbringing that others don’t have. This realization doesn’t come with bragging rights — it comes with a responsibility to embrace humility and each other, so that everyone has the same slice of life.
Practice Forgiveness Often After all the tools and resources we can implement into our life, that’s just it — life will always tailspin you into a hard-right turn. If you take nothing from this list, take this: forgive yourself daily. Forgive yourself for what you didn’t know or for the knowledge you didn’t have. Every day, we’re doing our very best; and until we know better, we can’t do better. Creating the life we want to live starts with digging into our own foundation. It’s not often pretty, but it’s where we can always begin again. You owe it to yourself to start.