You’ve heard the saying “You must be the change you want to see” and “You can’t create a new paradigm with old paradigm thinking.” What does that mean, really? And then, once we’ve shifted our thinking, how do we change our actions and priorities to embody the inner wisdom we’ve gained?
Back in the 80’s I was a Certified Rolfer, providing clients with better postural alignment. One client was a prison guard with severe back pain. Although he was intent on getting rid of the pain, as soon as his body started getting flexible he felt too vulnerable emotionally and stopped the process. He wanted the pain to go away without any change to his outer persona.
Have you noticed that if your outer priorities don’t align with the inner transformations you work so hard to achieve, your changes fail to take root in the world around you?
Burnout and injury forced me out of the software development industry back in 2003. I was very excited to start a new life as a business coach and consultant. But within a few months I was suffering the same level of exhaustion and joint pain as before, because I was approaching my new career with the same type-A workaholic behavior! I had to learn the hard way that a more balanced lifestyle required not only a change in my circumstances, but more balanced behavior.
There is a deeper level of integration and effectiveness available once you heal the split between your inner truth and outer expression. As agents of change, we are ultimately looking for a way to fully embody our core essence in the world.
Essence embodiment means that we make choices on a daily basis that honor our deepest calling.
Here are a few of the ways we typically stop ourselves from living our life purpose in the world:
- Ignoring our purposeful priorities – We get distracted and lose track of what we know we are meant to do in the world. For example, we may spend hours online rather than developing the strategic plan for our new business or writing up our groundbreaking new idea for the CEO.
- Avoiding risk – We allow our inner protectors to keep us small and safe, such as by avoiding public speaking to share our wisdom or not asking for a well-deserved promotion to increase our impact.
- Belittling ourselves – We believe the part of ourselves that says “Who am I to think I could…” and adopt a form of false humility that keeps us from fully contributing what we have to give.
With a bit of courage and commitment you can shift these habits by getting curious about the underlying motivations for misaligned behavior.
Do you let yourself distracted from your most purposeful priorities? Notice what activities keep taking up your time rather than the calling of your heart, and look into the reasons why the distraction might feel better than what you know you need to be doing.
For example, does your purposeful project require a lot of time working alone, and you keep going onto social media? Then schedule times throughout your day dedicated to connecting with others without feeling guilty about it. It’s important to honor the basic human need for community.
If you find yourself avoiding certain challenges, negotiate with your inner protectors and set parameters that will allow you to moderate the risks. For example, you might agree to make sure that at least three people believe in what you are trying to do before proceeding, or promise yourself that you will take one day off every week, or maintain a certain bank balance.
If self-deprecation is a familiar habit, inquire into why this behavior is so important for you and develop a kinder strategy that will meet the same objectives. For example, you might give new ideas a trial period and ensure you get positive feedback before going larger.
All it takes is asking yourself what you need to feel safe and honor your values, in order to live the purpose that calls you. Think about the basic human needs for financial security, loving relationships, and respect in the community, as well as your unique needs for certain forms of expression.
When you embody your own essence, you don’t show up in the world like anybody else. Embodying your true nature is the most creative challenge you’ll face. Yet, as you taste more of the exhilaration of expressing your essence while serving others and contributing to a better world, the old ways will never satisfy you again.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson