American Independence Day celebrations provide an opportunity to reflect on the freedom that I am so grateful to experience: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Said pursuit of happiness requires alignment.
Freedom from emptiness, exhaustion, and burnout requires alignment.
When you live, behave, and make decisions in alignment with your highest self, your dearest-held values, and your goals, then you are truly free.
This freedom empowers you to be optimally productive, to achieve your potential, and to live your purpose.
Becoming Free from What Pulls You Out of Alignment
I recently connected with a colleague who focuses in a different area than I do and who works with a different population.
She was seeking to understand what an exhausted high-performing woman feels. She doesn’t work with high performers and couldn’t understand the perspective that I was describing.
I explained that some high-performing women have had to be so focused on achievement that, when they take a step back, they realize that it’s empty and holds no meaning for them.
When they take a step back, they realize that they don’t like their lives, or that their lives look nothing like what they would hope for.
What an awful way to feel. I know.
That was where I found myself several years ago. While there were certainly aspects of my life that I loved and still love, there was a lot of it that I did not. I hated my job. I had just transitioned from the military, which had been my source of community and identity since I was born. My children had just moved to their dad’s house, and I was grieving that loss.
I felt lost, lonely, and like I didn’t fit anywhere.
I was desperate for a different life – a different way to earn an income, different work hours, more freedom and autonomy, more time to spend with the people I loved, more time to do things I actually enjoyed.
In my desperation, in my grieving, loneliness, and loss, I made professional decisions that were out of alignment with who I am and what my values are.
That’s what it can look like when you are out of alignment: you make decisions that don’t reflect your values.
When you take a step back, you realize that you don’t like your life – and maybe that you don’t like yourself.
Other examples of what it can look like when you are out of alignment include: over-obligation, codependency, weak boundaries, a guilt-induced inability to say no, lack of focus, or the inability to discern that which truly deserves your attention.
So if that’s what it looks like when you’re out of alignment, what the heck happened to get you there?
What pulls you out of alignment?
In my case, desperation, loneliness, and loss were some of the factors that clouded my judgment and led me to make decisions that were out of alignment.
But there are other reasons why you might behave in ways that aren’t aligned with your vision and values.
They can include…
- Your upbringing and conditioning. All of us have a set of subconscious programs that were wired by how we were raised and what we experienced as children and young adults.
- Your mental models. All of us have a set of beliefs and foundational attitudes from which and through which we see ourselves and the world.
- Trauma of any kind will influence how we behave and will reduce our access to our highest selves. (Also – all of us have experienced trauma in one way or another.)
- Fear is an instinct designed to help keep us safe, whole, and alive. The problem is that the body can’t distinguish between different fears, or different threat-triggering events.
Your body responds the same way to a physical threat, like a saber-toothed tiger stalking you, as it does to emotional threats, like being embarrassed, as it does to physiological threats, like a pathogen in your GI tract.
As such, ANY source of fear can cause you to change your behavior.
Fear of loss of income can keep you stuck in a job you hate, even when looking for a new role is what your Vision Self would do.
Fear of being seen or publicly making a mistake can keep you from public speaking, even if becoming a keynote speaker is a dream career of yours.
Fear of being embarrassed or socially awkward can keep you from making new friends, even if you’re lonely, or if your Vision Self needs you to uplevel your social circle.
Reflect for a moment on your life:
In what ways have you lived or are you living out of alignment with your values?
What are some of the reasons?
What actions are you committed to taking to create or restore alignment?
Becoming Free from “Should” and Shame
Most of us have lost connection with our Vision Self – our highest and best self.
We can’t hear her over the noise of what the world has told us we “should” do, or what our fear tells us we must do.
“Should” pulls you out of alignment.
“Should” tells you what you’re supposed to do and who you’re supposed to be.
All of us have been conditioned to believe things about ourselves and about the world.
When we don’t follow these externally-imposed rules about what we should do and who we should be, we feel guilty and ashamed that we somehow don’t measure up.
When you overcome “should” and shame, you experience the mental and emotional freedom that you need to choose what is truly aligned and best.
Why is this important?
When you can choose what’s actually best for you, you won’t be giving your precious time and energy to tasks that aren’t your genius or that you actually don’t care about.
You won’t be over-obligating, saying yes when you want to say no, or giving your time to things that really just aren’t that important to you.
Instead, you’ll be giving your time and energy to what creates your vision and makes a positive impact in the world.
If you’re constantly driven by what you think you “should” do, even if that’s not actually what’s best for your health and sense of purpose…
- You’ll be chronically exhausted
- You’ll burn out
- You’ll MISS YOUR LIFE
- You’ll feel empty
- You won’t live your purpose or achieve your potential
Choosing instead to live in alignment with your best self, and to focus on the actions that create what you truly want for your life, will create freedom from emptiness, exhaustion, and burnout.
When you live aligned you will experience fulfillment, make the positive impact that you were born to make, and experience real freedom.
Want to know where you are on the exhausted to energized spectrum? Take the Alignment Assessment!
Alignment is the path to energy, purpose, and a lit-up life!
You can transform exhaustion into energy – go from burned out to LIT UP – by creating an aligned life.
You can stop missing your life and start living aligned!
This assessment is for YOU if…
- You are ready to have the energy you need to live with purpose
- You are willing to engage in a process of alignment investigation
- You are committed to creating lasting, sustainable change
- You are committed to creating an aligned, fulfilling, purpose-driven life
Grab your magnifying glass and don your fedora – it’s time for some initial alignment investigation.
Take the Alignment Assessment now!
I’m a voracious reader, and these are a few of my favorites for finding alignment, creating your vision, and experiencing real freedom.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson
Boundaries, Cloud & Townsend
The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, Sarah Knight
Mark Manson nails the path to alignment and freedom:
“Decide what kind of life you really want…and then, say “no” to everything that isn’t that.”
– Mark Manson
Cheers to freedom, my friends!
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