Many years ago, I listened to some tapes from a motivational speaker, Tony Robbins. Some of you may have heard of him. While listening, he made a profound statement that has stayed with me throughout the years. Tony stated, “The past does not equal the future.” Well, that statement opened up my world, because I realized in that moment that just because a person may have been raised or conditioned a certain way does not mean their future has to maintain that lifestyle or those beliefs. You have the power to change all that, but, most importantly, knowing WHY is the key. WHY are you changing your lifestyle, changing your belief system, following your passion? The WHY is your guide post, your inner compass, your heart-calling toward your True Self.
The journey will be a bit challenging as you listen to that heart-calling while you are transitioning. Let me make something very clear here: this is not meant to scare you or discourage you; it is to INSPIRE you to hope for a better future for yourself. YOU are your greatest investment. You can always raise yourself to be the best version of you, no matter what phase of your life you are in. Don’t ever forget that, and don’t ever give up on yourself! You’re just too valuable!
Now, let’s talk about some of the challenges you may be faced with in your pursuit to ‘Stay True to Yourself.’
- Overcoming societal and generational conditioning
- Accepting or adopting what others say about you
- Living by other’s expectations
- Crabs in the Bucket Syndrome
- Preconceived notions of what other people think
Societal and Generational Conditioning
Let’s think about this for a moment. Go back to when you were a child, watching TV. What were some of your memories and thoughts when you watched a show that had an impact on you? Think about social media for a minute. Do you think that all the stuff in your newsfeed is true, or is it possible that there are things placed there to condition you to be in fear? Which is your newsfeed, positive or negative? This is societal conditioning. The best example of societal conditioning is all the glamour magazines you sift through seeing one gorgeous model after another and wondering why you can’t look that way. Then the negative self-talk comes pouring in and before you know it, you are body shaming yourself for not looking like those models. Photoshop is a very powerful societal conditioning tool, don’t you think?
What about generational conditioning? This type of conditioning is the lifestyle, traditions, belief systems, etc. that have been passed down from generation to generation in each of our families. Not all of it is bad; however, in order to ‘Stay True to Yourself,’ you will have to overcome some of it. You can start by incorporating the following habits into your daily life:
- Stop reading and watching the local and world news. This has no other value other than instilling fear within you.
- Start reading positive, inspirational, and motivational material such as self-help books, spiritual books, autobiographies from successful people, etc.
- Distance yourself from toxic, negative environments and people (including family members). This is so unfortunate, but there are friends and family members who, no matter what you do, will never be happy. They will try to keep you at their level, because they are not ready to move forward in their own lives (Crabs in the Bucket; I talk about this a little later on in the blog). Following their pressure to stay in place will delay your progress, and remember: it’s not about them; it’s about YOU. Moving on your own path will result in a happier and healthier you, both mentally and emotionally.
- Surround yourself with people you aspire to become like, as well as people who have a more positive, happier outlook on life.
Accepting or Adopting What Others Say About You
Throughout our lives, you will encounter friends, family members, and others that have unwarranted opinions about you. Most times, these people are unconsciously projecting their negative inner thoughts about themselves onto you. The important thing here is to become aware of whether you have accepted or adopted as true what these people have said about you. For example, I once had a family member who would make fun of my physical appearance. My zodiac sign is Taurus, which is the bull, and surprise, surprise, I have large eyes. He would make fun of me–calling me cow eyes–and, being young and not knowing any better, I became ashamed of how I looked. His negative opinion caused me to think negatively about my eyes. It took most of my childhood, as well as compliments from other people, to overcome that obstacle and change my beliefs. So, before you believe something to be true based on another’s opinion, please take a deeper, longer look at who is saying something to you. You may be surprised what comes up.
Living by Other’s Expectations
This is a tough one, because sometimes we don’t even see that we are doing it, and we can’t figure out why we are so unhappy. It’s because we are living for everyone else but ourselves. Yes, we have responsibilities as parents, as spouses, as children, and we have our own expectations as to how we may play any of these roles; however, often times there are family members, spouses, friends who have their own set of expectations of what you can do for them, and you may receive pressure from them about this. Unfortunately, the one thing I have noticed about other’s expectations is that you are never asked what you want; there is only a single focus of serving the other person. But, living by your own expectations first and foremost helps your inner compass stay the course and brings you into alignment with who you truly are.
Crabs in the Bucket
I use this phrase quite a bit in my coaching sessions. Essentially, ‘crabs in the bucket’ is a situation where you have a bucket of crabs, and one crab climbs over the others to reach freedom. When the other crabs see this happening, they take hold of the breakaway crab and pull him back in the bucket. Metaphorically speaking, these crabs are people who will try to pull you back in the bucket. They are not concerned about your needs, wants, or desires, and they have no interest in helping you get where you want to be. Their only interest is to keep you with them and to continue to pull you back into the bucket. The sad part of it is they usually have no idea that they are doing it. These are people who will try and prevent you from true happiness by attempting to keep you down with them – Misery loves company, you know?
The definition of preconceived notion is “an opinion formed beforehand without adequate evidence.” For example, how many of you create anxiety within yourself over a situation, when you have no idea how the reality of it will turn out? This is a preconceived notion. It’s also a lovely moment to practice self-awareness: your Ego (mind) thinks it’s going to die and talks you out of moving forward with staying true to yourself. Stay vigilant against this pattern of thinking.
Growth Happens in Phases
All those challenges I mentioned above will ebb and flow as we journey through life, but always know you must have contrast (opposition) in order to continue your path and hone in on your true self. Growth is subtle and comes in waves and phases, so we are able to handle things as they come. It’s analogous to building strength within your physical body: just as hard workouts and recovery build muscle strength, spiritual challenges build emotional strength. The end results are fortitude, steadfastness, hope, love, trust, faith in yourself, and something far greater than we could ever imagine. Accept who you are and what makes you unique. There is no one else on Earth that is just like you. Embrace and love who you are, and remember, “What others think of you is none of YOUR business.” So, love yourself through it all, the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly. You’ve Got This!