Which way should I take, how can I find my path in life or how do I know that what I’m doing is right, that I have chosen correctly, are questions that I’ve been frequently asked and I thought to address this topic in today's article.
Whether we are talking about choices and decisions people make regarding their relationships, their career path or their personal life, most often they aren’t convinced that they did the right thing, there are issues and questions to which they try to find answers.
First of all, I would like to start by presenting my point of view on what I consider to be "finding your path". This path isn’t necessarily a well-trodden path, but I see it as an invitation that the Universe sends you to live, to experience, to define and redefine yourself, to grow, to learn from your mistakes.
Since we are young we are subject to family and environmental influences, we are influenced by a variety of factors that somehow give us the idea of "who I am" and "what I have to do in life". The way we are raised, to some extent, is already setting us on a certain path. It is a path created by the expectations of those around us (especially our parents), by society’s expectations that we follow more or less voluntarily or consciously for fear of not being rejected, abandoned, excluded, criticized, for fear of not feeling different from others, as if being "different" is a bad thing.
We start on this road and as we get older or mature we start to become more aware of ourselves, of what we want, if these expectations and "norms" fit us, we think we would like to change the direction or at least step outside the well-trodden path from time to time.
As teenagers we may rebel in ways that only a teenager can rebel. This rebellion, from a certain point of view, can be viewed as an attempt to keep our authenticity, as a struggle to remain loyal to our inner truth, whatever that might be, to follow our own path, to remain "whole", undivided by the claims, norms, traditions and expectations that hover around us. Many teenagers aren’t afraid to say what they really think or do what they really want (sometimes in exaggerated ways), because they strongly believe in themselves, they just started living their life, they make plans, they dream a lot, they imagine how they would like to live and somehow they don’t accept in their minds that these things they want are impossible. In adolescence our inner fire burns, it is a strong fire like some kind of inner compass that show us the way.
In time this inner fire begins to soften - some would say that we are entering the "real" life, but I think that life is "real" from the moment we are born. What does "real life" mean? Apparently, a life full of responsibilities and problems, a life in which you can no longer do what you want, a life set in "survival" or "routine" mode, a life in which you may feel captive. The other life, the "ideal" life, remains a memory of your adolescence dreams.
The idea is that, yes, we often get carried away by life, certain junctures or situations arise and they make us feel pressured to make certain decisions even if we don’t want them, for different reasons or because we don’t know what else we could choose. We get into some kind of rut, securing our comfort zone. Maybe we have regrets, maybe we want to change something, but the "real life" doesn’t allow us. Or at least that's what we think.
What do I think "real life" means? The life you choose to build. We all have concerns and problems, but the important thing is how we relate to them. You solve a problem and, apparently, another one arises overnight - yes, this is also a characteristic of real life. Not the problems that arise are the problem, but our lack of resources to solve them, the belief that we don’t have those resources or that we cannot acquire them.
If a person has formed a mindset that tells him "oh, no, another problem.", “I can’t take it”, “why is this always happening to me?”, “I’m unlucky”, they will see the "real" life from a victim’s perspective and a victim mentality will do nothing but to weaken you, take your power and put it in the hands of other people or destiny, because it’s their fault that you are going through this. But if a person, faced with a problem, thinks "ok, this happened, it's unpleasant, sad, maybe even dramatic, let's see what I can do" and starts focusing on solutions, on the resources they need, suspending, somehow, all those catastrophic thoughts, they would see the "real" life from a winner’s perspective .
A "winner" doesn’t carry unnecessary fights with other people, trying to prove them that they are superior (because they don’t feel good in their own skin, they’re frustrated or they actually have an inferiority complex) or unnecessary fights with life (resisting or getting stuck in a victim position), but they win by stopping the fight with themselves, by no longer hurting themselves - through beliefs, patterns, emotions, (self) destructive behaviors, they no longer sabotage themselves. This person trusts their resources or knows that he/she can discover them and, as in real life, there are many more resources in time of peace than in time of war.
This means that, as you begin the process of making peace with yourself, of accepting yourself, of loving yourself (which is actually a personal development process through which you give up all those beliefs that limit you and which are no longer useful, you give up blaming yourself and you replace that with taking responsibility etc.), of detaching yourself from your life story that tells you "you are a loser" or "you are a victim of abuse" or "you aren’t able to do more ”, of seeing yourself beyond the roles you have (teacher, lawyer, mother, daughter, husband), you are already beginning to place yourself on the right path.
Your path is an inner path, because everything starts from within. In other words, your life, the life you live now, the real life, is a result of your thoughts, your beliefs, your emotions, which cause you to act in a certain way. It's a projection of how you feel inside. If you are inwardly conflicted, without wanting and perhaps without realizing it, you’ll bring that struggle outwardly, into the "real" life. You see obstacles at every step, you have the tendency to fight, to resist, you may often find yourself in unpleasant, conflicting situations. Maybe you feel like you're struggling with everyone and everything, and you got tired. Maybe you blame others for what you are living now: the Government, your mother, your father, your life partner, the country in which you live, the teacher who punished you for not knowing how to do your homework, the high school teacher who told you that you are a fool and that you will not succeed in life and so on. Well, if it wasn't for this Government, these parents, these teachers, it would have been others instead. The idea is that you can’t control the external factors, what you can control is what you do with what you were "given" - your experiences, your thoughts, your beliefs, the way you see yourself and your life. What you can control is the way you choose to live from now on - clinging to the past, repeating the same thoughts that tell you "it's not right", "because of you ...", or looking towards the future and building that future paying attention to the way you choose to be from now on.
If you want to change, if you want to find out what your path is, start by taking responsibility. Stop remembering the past because it no longer exists, learn to live in the present and observe the way you build this present - when you wake up in the morning do you think about how many problems you have, how unhappy you are, how you don't feel like doing nothing? Take responsibility for such thoughts, for the fact that thinking this way, you will feel bad, uninspired, bored or sad, take responsibility that these feelings will make you shut yourself into your shell, that you will continue to procrastinate starting that project that you have been thinking about for a long time or that you will be looking for reasons to fight with someone to vent these emotions. Take responsibility for the fact that although you may not be 100% aware of it, you are creating your "path" minute by minute.
What is your path? Exactly that path you are building moment by moment. How do you know that this path is good for you? Notice how you feel inside. Are you conflicted, unhappy, frustrated, sad, do you feel like you are living in vain? Have you lost the joy of living? Do you feel alienated? If so, you probably have to make some changes, either regarding your mindset and attitude, or regarding your actions. Although, when you change your mindset and attitude, you will also change your actions and behaviors. Another question you can ask yourself is – does my work represent me, the way I live or the way I behave in this relationship? Do I find myself in this book I’ve written, in this project that I’ve started, am I ok with the choice I just made, do I love as my soul asks me or I make compromises, I choose half-measures, I give up in favor of someone or something else, because I must, because this is how it’s done, because I don't see another way? Am I genuine in my relationships, in my interactions, in what I do, in what I create? Am I true to myself until the end? Think of all these things.
To be on your path, on the right path, means to respect your authenticity. If you have made many compromises and sacrifices so far, if you have made important decisions out of fear of being "excluded" if you don’t comply, if most of these decisions were based on fear, an illusory fear otherwise, and not on desire and confidence, if you let yourself be guided not by your inner fire, that inner fire full of resources that still burns in your heart, but by words like “you must do so”, if all these things have led you to make other compromises, to give up other dreams, to accumulate other regrets and frustrations, stop for a moment and think about whether you really want to continue like this or not.
What you think you have lost - your dreams, passion, inner fire, personal power, even authenticity, have not really disappeared. They are only covered, layer by layer, by a ballast of dysfunctional beliefs and patterns, repressed emotions, compromises, lies that you told to yourself to continue walking on the path that you have already begun to go. Start with whatever layer is within your reach and "clean" your soul. There, somewhere, who you really are is waiting for you to meet again.
Dr. Ursula Sandner