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Who You Are: On Honesty, Process, and Life

Who are you, right now? What is your life like? What do you want, need, and desire?

“Don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides,” the saying goes. What this means, of course, is don’t compare your messy process with someone else’s perfect-seaming results. It’s good advice.

Recently, I said to a client, “Don’t compare who you are now with who you once were.” Of course our lives are built on the lessons of who we were. We live with skills we’ve acquired and knowledge we’ve incorporated, but that doesn’t mean we have to be bigger, better, versions of who we were five, ten, or twenty years ago.

It means we need to live as we are, who we are, right now, and that includes assessing our current conditions and our wants, needs, and desires.

The me of ten years ago traveled the world, teaching, speaking at conferences, and seeing places that much younger, working-class-family-kid me never thought I would. I loved those years, but right now? I would find that life exhausting. If I never fly outside my own time zone again, I’ll be happy with that. My body, mind, heart, and soul want something different now.

We can pivot. Change directions. Adjust to circumstances.

We can choose.

Here’s the prescription I gave to my client:

1- Be honest about your current life conditions.

2- Respect your current capacity and desires.

3- Affirm your process.

4- Release attachment to the outcome.

5- Invoke curiosity.

6- Breathe.

What do I mean by “affirm your process”? For some of us, whether we are comparing ourselves to others or our past selves, we can sometimes wallow in what we do not have, how well we are not doing, or the ways in which we feel we fail or fall short. This might be in the realm of creativity, spiritual practice, career, relationships, or health.

This is why numbers one and two of the prescription are so important. What is my life really like right now? What am I thankful for? What would I like to shift? And how do my abilities, capacity, and desire coincide?

Once I’ve spent time answering those questions, I can examine my process. What exactly am I doing to build the life I desire or to live as well as I can with the life and conditions I have?

By affirming our process—and invoking curiosity—we can either find ways to support things we’re already doing, or can decide what the next step in our process might be.

I’ll give you a hint: that next step may even feel like a negative. It may mean saying no to things, practices—or even people—that don’t serve us right now. It may mean retraining early morning thoughts. It may mean realizing when we are telling the truth about our lives and when we’re caught in self-pity or self-flagellation.

I’ll use myself as an example: I work for myself. I have an autoimmune disorder and currently also work with a brain injury. So, what’s my process?

I do neurological and balance exercises every day. I breathe, meditate, and pray. I get basic, simple exercise. I commit to an anti-inflammatory diet with a dash of intuitive eating for the days brain induced nausea means I don’t wanna eat.

And I write. I study. I work on publishing and marketing. I reach out to people. I see clients. Some days, I literally cannot work, so biggest of all for me is that I listen to my capacity and build around that. And trust me, I know that in our society, that last is a luxury.

But we can all do some small version of this. It’s just going to look differently for each of us.

If your day consists of managing severe pain first thing in the morning, or getting kids set up before going to one or two jobs, your process will look and feel quite different from mine. And it doesn’t matter what you were doing five years ago. What matters is what your life is like right now.

I’ll repeat the prescription:

1- Be honest about your current life conditions.

2- Respect your current capacity and desires.

3- Affirm your process.

4- Release attachment to the outcome.

5- Invoke curiosity.

6- Breathe.

I hope you spend some time with this, and offer yourself the best support you can right now.

What is your assessment? How might you need to adjust your process?

What is one thing you can do today?

This essay was funded by my amazing Patreon supporters. Wishing them as many blessings as their lives can hold.

If you want more support in this work, you may find my book Make Magic of Your Life to be of help. 

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