We all do it. You do it, I do it…
At some or many points in our lives we all give ourselves over to that voice in our heads that says “follow me” or “buy it now” or “I know I’m full, but I’ve left just a little room dessert”… just this once…
In other words we all do things against our better judgement… and then rationalize them later.
According to Ayurveda balance, good health and enduring happiness is a part of who we are. It’s built into our DNA and is our natural state. Problem is we all too often make choices that steer us away from our natural state towards states of imbalance or dis-ease. But why?
Here’s a common situation…
I’m sitting at my desk, supposedly working, trying to solve a problem, or write, or come up with a great idea, but nothing’s coming. And then, all of a sudden, I’m hungry (but I’m really not). So I decide to go to the kitchen for a healthy snack (even though I’m not hungry), and I see the ice cream in the freezer (not even sure why I opened the freezer)… The next thing you know I’m surfing the internet with a bowl of ice cream by my side. SORTED!!
Every step of the way from working to indulging I was telling myself that I shouldn’t be doing this. But… I did it anyway! Why?
The simplest answer is that I wasn’t choosing ME. Sound familiar?
WHO are YOU choosing…?
We don’t choose us. We choose our spouses, our children, our neighbors and friends, our parents and that teacher way back in high school who told us we’d never amount to anything. We say yes to things we don’t want to do, eat food we don’t want to eat, live in places we don’t want to live and work jobs we don’t want to work. We give our power to choose away on a daily basis, in big and almost imperceptible ways. Ways that eat at us, intensify our anxiety, feed our neuroses and destroy our self-worth.
And yeah there are various reasons why we do this (we each have our own), but one of the biggest (for all of us) is simply that we don’t know HOW to honor that light inside us that knows who we are and what’s best for us. We’ve been taught from a very tender age that choosing ourselves is selfish and rude, without ever really understanding what choosing ourselves really means!
Choosing you is the basis of valuing what you have to offer the world. Of honoring your unique abilities, insights and path. From an Ayurvedic perspective the ability to love and choose ourselves is the foundation of enduring health and happiness. It’s understanding and accepting the part we each have to play in our world and taking responsibility for our full self-expression and enjoyment of life.
So here are a few suggestions to get you on the road to choosing YOU on a more regular basis…
Realize that you’re worthy of being chosen.
At the center of nearly every decision NOT to choose yourself is a belief that you’re not worthy or not good enough. That belief that you’re not really worth being chosen in the first place.
Choosing YOU starts with giving up that way of thinking, regardless of how long you’ve held onto it and accepting that no matter who you are or what you’ve been through in your life, letting go of self-limiting thinking and behaviours is simply a matter of choosing to do so (yes, it is that simple, don’t fool yourself).
Get clear on who you’re choosing.
Every time you realize you’re not choosing you, ask yourself, “who or what AM I choosing?” and keep asking until you get to something (or someone) that feels right. I often choose my husband, my parents, society or some version of me that I’ve created in their eyes (a person who doesn’t exist, basically) over the real me. And then ask yourself if that person would actually have you make the choice you’re making “for them”. We often act out of our unfounded beliefs about what someone would want or expect from us. It’s only when we challenge that (in our own heads and yes, in person with them) that we truly experience the reality of a situation.
Say no to the stuff you really don’t want to do.
Are you guilty of saying yes to everything? There are all sort of reasons we do this. Mainly it’s because we’ve been doing it for so long that it feels like it’s just a part of who we are. But how many times have you regretted saying yes to something, even though at the time it seemed like a no-brainer? If this is you, make a habit of stepping back from a situation or commitment before charging forward with a yes. Sometimes a little space, or to be out from under the shadow of someone is just what we need in order to feel into what’s right for us. Realize that you have a choice and exercising it will have no impact on the people that matter. In fact it’s likely to empower you so much that they’ll end up liking, loving, or respecting you even more than they do now.
Stop and check in with your gut.
We love to talk about making choices with our hearts over our heads or vice versa, the thing is, both are simply functions of the ever powerful mind, the emotional function, and the logical function. And both are equally as likely to steer you wrong… or right. So rather than heart of head, check in with your gut or your intuition. Ayurveda holds that it’s our soul, our instruction manual for being us. It’s far more subtle than the highly emotional heart or coldly logical head, but it’s a straight line to you and what’s good for you. Cultivate your relationship with it by checking in with it… often.
Be clear about when you’re NOT choosing you.
There are many times in our day or our lives that choosing us doesn’t feel like the priority. A new, exhausted parent getting up at all hours for feedings and care, dropping everything to go comfort an ailing loved one or friend. These are the types of situations that might seem to call on you to put your self-care needs aside in order to be of service to someone else. But guess what? The way this choosing you stuff works, consciously choosing someone else, can feed you as much as it supports them. Generosity works both ways (isn’t that awesome!). And having the awareness that in choosing someone else, you are in essence choosing you, will open you up to look for opportunities within that process to support another in a way that can be truly selfless and infinitely generous.
Why this is important
Besides the fact that it will make you feel like a gazillion bucks!! Choosing yourself is vital to being yourself. It’s when we continually choose someone else that we become someone other than who we’re meant to be. That’s when we struggle and stress and become resentful, unexpressed and ineffective.
We were all born with a unique set of gifts to share with the world. The trouble is that most of us are too busy trying to be someone else to actually realize who we are. It’s only when we can wholeheartedly step into ourselves (as hard as that may be) that we’re given access to truly unlock ALL the goodness in our mind, body and soul.
What it feels like to choose yourself
I’d love to hear from all of you on this one (tell me in the comments below). My experiences of choosing myself always feel amazing. My confidence soars along with my level of happiness and feelings of well-being. It feels like I can do anything and confirms my belief in myself, my intuition and in intention. AND it builds on itself, growing even more intense with every experience that I have of choosing me!
What does choosing ME look like…?
Sometimes we’re so out of practice of choosing ourselves (many of us haven’t chosen ourselves since we were toddlers), that we loose touch with what choosing ourselves actually means or looks like. Remember my description above of being bored at my desk and ending up on an internet and ice cream bender. Here’s what that situation might have looked like if I were choosing me…
I’m sitting at my desk trying to work and nothing’s coming. I know that I’m committed to getting this work done today but I’m at a bit of a standstill. I push back from my desk, take a break and check in with what might be getting in the way of forward progress. I realize it’s anxiety. I’m anxious about not being able to get the things that I wanted to get done, done today. I then realize that my (newly developed) “conscious action” for dealing with anxiety is getting outside in the fresh air. I grab a pad and a pen (just in case inspiration strikes), my ipod, put on my walking shoes, and head out to take a 15 – 20 minute walk to clear my head and get some fresh air. 30 minutes later I’m back at my desk, clear, calm and ready to take on the world!
See what I did right there…?
Conscious actions are available to anyone. They just take a little forward thinking and awareness. Knowing the situations, thoughts or emotions that hijack us is the key. Once you’re aware of them you can create “conscious actions” to substitute for the unconscious (or unhealthy) actions that you might otherwise take when these challenging situations arise.
Oh and here’s a few more ways that you can practice choosing yourself!
More ways to choose yourself:
- Question your doctors diagnosis if it doesn’t feel right to you, or get a second opinion.
- Send food that is unsatisfactory back to the kitchen in a restaurant.
- Honor your self care, diet and exercise commitments to yourself.
- Avoid over eating, or over consumption of anything.
- Honor yourself in your interactions and communications with people. Speak authentically about your thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
- Acknowledge your fears and then act.
- Realize that you’re worthy of being put first
- Say no to that activity, task or favor you really don’t want to do
- If you know you tend to eat unhealthily when you go out for meals and socialize with friends, try eating at home before you go out. Feel good about choosing you (it’s not easy) and use the time with friends to socialize and enjoy their company.
- Create “conscious actions” to substitute for those unhealthy things you tend to do without thinking.
- Create a structure or routine in your life that pulls for you to make healthy choices, decisions (work out partners, meal plans, mini-routines, fall back plans/actions – for when you fall out of your routine).
- Let your family and friends know that choosing you is a priority and a foundation for a happier healthier you (who wouldn’t want that for you!).
Who or what do YOU choose when you’re not choosing yourself? In what situations do you find it most challenging to choose yourself? Share, share, share, share share, in the comments below (I’d love to know I’m not alone!). Thanks in advance!!