…if you want different results
How is the overall health and wellness of the people in your inner circles? Are they energized and inspired by life? Do they radiate love, courage, and generosity? Do they have what you want? Do you feel positively alive and activated in their presence? Are they able to honor your differences, and support your authentic journey? Be radically honest with yourself – are you in right relationship, and right community? You deserve to be healthy and happy, but you may need to summon the bravery to declare some new priorities.
It really helped me to do a deep-dive for my most authentic core values. We tend to assume we know our values, but they may be the ones we have absorbed from our upbringing, they may have strings attached to them, or we may be hanging onto certain values in an unconscious attempt to protect the ease with which we fit into society or certain groups we affiliate with. We may say we value peace, love, health, freedom, integrity, authenticity or adventure, without having clarified what each of these really means to us, and how they would authentically express in our own daily life.
I came up with the idea of identifying ‘magnet words’ as a starting point in this quest to identify our real values. I invite you to make a long list of words you resonate with in a positive way. Words that inspire, comfort, relax or energize you. Grab words from books, articles, billboards, conversation, etc. Spend time with this, maybe a week or more. Once you have gathered a list of at least 25 personal ‘magnet words,’ sort them into 4 or 5 groups of similars: words that can hang together well, in your mind. For each of these word families, choose a word that captures the essence of the group – it could be one of the words in the group, or it could be a new word that speaks for them all. Each of these group headings is likely to be one of your core values. Take each one separately, and write about it in your own words. Make up your own definition, one that resonates deeply within you. Who cares what anyone else thinks ‘Adventure’ means – what does it mean to you?
Once I became intimate with my true core values, I found meaning and purpose in drafting a personal ‘life statement.’ I have shared this in a previous post: “I am a beacon of truth for others as I live and share my dreams of health and freedom.” Over the years, I was tempted to make edits, such as this one: “I am a beacon of love and light as I joyously live and share my dreams of health and freedom.” At the end of the day though, I know that all of this is held in my original, simpler statement. And the statement is solely for me – the purpose of it is to help me stay grounded in my personal calling. A life statement may have several core values in it, or one primary one. It may be just one word, or up to a couple of short sentences. It should be concise though, and short enough to be easily recalled.
“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, a chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness...The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” - Goethe
A personal life statement is a bold declaration of intent. It reflects a clear decision to claim a focus in life. For me, it becomes a guide-post against which I can test everything I might choose to engage with. Am I honoring my true core values? Am I in harmony with my true purpose? Some people feel that they don’t possess the confidence to choose a life statement accurately for themselves. I say don’t worry about that, just focus on connecting with your inner wisdom, and trust what comes forth. If the first version isn’t quite right for you, that will soon be revealed and adjustments can then be made. Allow it to be a work in progress, and get started claiming full presence on your path.
“Sometimes we hold ourselves back by trying to proceed carefully. This is not a careful path. It's a path filled with care and love, but not with reservation. Part of learning to trust your instincts is learning to ignore the "right way" things need to be done...I think we can bend the rules, defy gravity, and beat the odds when we listen to our off road intuition.” - Tama Kieves
I love this idea of ‘off road intuition.’ What does that mean to you? To me, it means we can trust our deep intuition, even when it sometimes seems to defy logic, or appears ‘irresponsible’ or ‘reckless.’ When we are holding it up against societal, cultural, or familial norms, yet we are simultaneously attempting to find our own voice, we are going to bump into some dissonance sooner or later. Stop comparing yourself to these norms. If living within them was a happy experience for you, you wouldn’t be on this quest! Stop judging your inner voice, your higher wisdom, against the chaotic or group-think voices of society, your friends or your family. You are seeking what feels most authentic deep inside yourself – you are wanting to connect to that which truly energizes and inspires you, and makes you feel most alive. You will have to knock the power out of the values and customs which are no longer serving you well. To look at this from another perspective: expand your resonance with the values you truly wish to live by, and watch the old ones simply fall away from dis-interest and dis-use.
“If you do what everyone else does, you can expect to get what everyone else is getting.”
When someone in your life disapproves of your newly declared values and intentions, this is always more about them than it is about you. People are funny – in order to cope with the envy and discomfort they feel when someone else is courageously stepping into their true power, they will often try to bring that person back down a notch to not ‘rock the boat’ and threaten to unearth their own inauthenticity. When we can see that this is all that is really happening, it is easier to feel love and compassion rather than fear or frustration, a little easier to avoid being triggered by criticism or judgement, and easier to simply stay the course we know is true for us. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Another fun and helpful exercise is to view your life like a novel (you are the heroine), and establish some chapter titles. What chapter did you recently emerge from? What would you name the chapter you find yourself living right now? What is an inspiring title for the chapter you wish to head into next? Doing this helps to put a contextual frame around your experience, and gets you in the driver’s seat, where you are making choices to direct your life. Of course there is always much that remains beyond our control, but being in the driver’s seat means staying awake, aware, and inspired, and consciously choosing our responses to our shifting environment.
I find it to be a powerful personal practice to declare my intentions on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Take a little time each morning to say a few words that create sacred space around you, and then reflect on what intentions you wish to set for the day. Pause frequently throughout the day to remember and reset your intentions. This only takes me a few minutes each day, and it really works to help keep me grounded and focused. Intentions can be around specific tasks or projects, and they can also be about cultivating a vibrational frequency, such as living in love. In this way, I take responsibility for keeping myself as much as I can in inspiration and gratitude. It’s not always a state that happens automatically – we need to pay close attention, and cultivate it moment by moment, and day by day. It’s like building a special muscle, and maintaining its strength and tone.
“Decide what you want. Decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities, and go to work.” - H.L. Hunt
I recently had a memorable encounter with a woman who shared with me that she is, in her words, ‘a go-along-to-get-along kind of gal.’ She said this in the context of preferring to stay connected to the group rather than risk a perceived experience of separation by adopting an unpopular opinion or taking a contrary action. I asked her if she would stick by the group if it meant following them right off a dangerous cliff…and she readily said “Yes.” I thanked her for her honesty, but I thought “Wow.” It definitely takes a certain kind of character to know and stand by our authentic values. For her, staying with the pack, at all costs, may be her top value. For me, I choose health and sovereignty. Love and connection are core values of mine too, but these are defined and expressed differently in my life than in hers. Some of us protect our connection to the group more than our connection to Self and Source. The beautiful thing is that we each get to choose, and I am intrigued and curious about what others choose for themselves.
Over time, as I have consistently proven my commitment to certain alternative lifestyle choices, close friends and family have stopped questioning and pestering. In fact, in more cases than not, I have earned their respect (though in most cases not their agreement). Apparently, they have become convinced that I am personally gaining more than losing on my different path, and they have gradually given up their worrying about me. Plus, they have realized that they are not going to be able to pull me off my path. Their respect for me took time to grow, and I had to release my attachment to receiving it. It’s nice ‘icing on the cake’ now, but a desire to gain other people’s approval or respect has never been what has inspired the kinds of choices I have made to follow my intuitive inner guidance.
When I really want something, I am willing to risk a lot for it. I think that when we reach higher, we receive higher challenges to help us build the bigger muscles we will need. The magic and synchronicities which unfold are worth the bumps in the road, and though the rifts in some relationships are temporarily painful along the way, these ‘separations’ do not cause the imagined Separation we fear most. Life is an adventure, learning is an adventure, and I feel most alive when I am unafraid to fully engage with my inspirations.
Living Heart with Ellen Livingston is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.