Are you fully present for your life? That may be appear to be a trick question because so many of us never consider what it means to show up fully for ourselves. Many of us are living our lives on autopilot. One of my clients, a successful sales executive and single mother of three children, let’s call her Lisa, struggled to show up fully for herself. She wanted to go back to school to complete her undergraduate degree, but found myriad reasons for not following through with her dreams.
1. Call Forth Your Best Self
We are multidimensional beings with the sum of our experiences operating simultaneously inside of us. Do you choose with intention which aspect of yourself will be the dominant voice in our life? Are you operating from the hurt little eight-year-old self—the self that didn’t get Mommy’s love or daddy’s approval? Lisa related to me that she did not have the time or money to fulfill her dreams. When we explored possibilities, Lisa told me that all three of her children were in an expensive private elementary school, which kept her finances tight. She also disclosed that she relied solely on the limited availability of her mother for childcare. When we explored other options, Lisa resisted and finally said: “I don’t ever want my children to feel the way I did growing up. I was never supported.” It didn’t occurred to Lisa that she was continuing the pattern she learned from her parents by failing to support herself.
A small part of Lisa did not feel she deserved to be supported, while another part of her knew she would thrive in her chosen career once she obtained an undergraduate degree. Our best self is the part of us that knows we are capable, strong, all knowing, loveable, courageous, intelligent, deserving. It is simply a choice whether we are self-directed by the most injured part of our being or the most powerful part of our being.
2. Establishing a Practice
In order to think with intention, we have to develop positive practices. A meditation practice can train the brain to quiet the rambling, negative, monkey mind thoughts that keep us stuck. Lisa was plagued with a loop of guilty thoughts when she didn’t give her children the childhood that she really desired for herself. I suggested to Lisa that she could give herself that wonderful, supportive childhood now by finding a way to finance her dream of earning her degree. The practice of mindfulness, which is simply being fully present in every moment, helped Lisa to connect to the ordinary moments in her home with her children. Lisa discovered that her children were happy, felt loved, and did not need the added luxury of a private, elementary school education. Journaling helped Lisa to document the joy she received doing simple activities with her children like riding bikes in the park, which helped to dissolve her guilt about not being a good enough single mother.
3. Stop Living in the “But”
Most of us have our eyes trained on the past. We are programmed to accentuate our failures and wounds. I really want love, but my last lover betrayed me, or I really want that job, but I don’t have the right credentials. A psychologist friend of mine told me she is trained to hone in on what comes after the but when her clients speak to her because that’s where they are living. Are you living in the but? Do you wish for a future of your dreams by remaining tethered to a past that delivered disappointments? Lisa discovered that she was living in the but and wanted out. She is now enrolled in college, placed her children in public school, and used the money she saved to hire a part-time nanny and fully finance her education. Lisa is happy, even eager, to invest her money, time, and best efforts in her most precious asset—herself.