The following is an excerpt from The Courageous Year : Level 1 (which is now available for pre-order!). The Courageous Year starts with getting grounded in self-care, and not “buy some bath beads” self-care. It’s grounding. Centering. Slowing Down. Also? Establishing your Values so that you go into making the shifts you want to make from a place of what you really want, not what others tell you that you need. This exercise in establishing your Life Vision comes after establishing Values.
You’ve established your Values, which are those things that you hold dear to your heart, that motivate you, that fill you up, that get you connected. Values are intangible. They go with you wherever you go. They are unlikely to change over time, though the priority you place on them might be different at different points in your life (i.e., you might value both connection as well as freedom, and at times when you want more freedom you might desire a lot of travel, and at times when you desire more connection, you might find yourself staying closer to home. It depends on how that is expressed within you.)
A Life Vision is a sentence or two that expresses the deepest desire for your life. It’s the thing that would have you jazzed to get out of bed in the morning. It’s the thing that you might think of when you’re in the midst of a difficult situation: “Is my reaction to this supporting my Life Vision?”
Now, first—the fear. Some people reading this might already be putting pressure on themselves to establish the “just right perfect Life Vision.” There might already be fear that you have to know what your vision is and then stick to it. Oy—commitment!
So I’ll share first that I thought my Vision was a few things, that were really just incarnations of the Vision that I ultimately chose.
My Life Vision is this: To completely and totally love and accept myself, so that I can completely and totally love and accept everyone else, and thus facilitate healing in the world.
How did I arrive here?
Through Values work, self-care work, and taking time to slow down and get connected to me, it was inevitable that I’d ask what all of this Coaching work, self-exploration work, etc., was all about. I was in a workshop where the question was asked: “Why did you come to Earth?” This was a line from a song, but what they really meant was: “What are you here to do? What is your unique contribution to this planet?”
I tried a few stabs at writing my own Life Vision. I’d write things like “To be an amazing Coach/Counselor,” or “To forgive my family and heal myself.” Those Visions were appropriate for those times in my life, but I grew to understand that a Life Vision is so much bigger than anything we could check off of a to-do list. It came down to three questions:
1.) What is my big mission, the thing that I want for myself more than anything that money could buy?
2.) Why do I want that?
The thing I wanted more than anything in the world was to completely and totally love and accept myself. I was sick of self-hate, put-downs, etc. It was exhausting. It wasn’t allowing me to be who I was.
And why did I want that? Because part of loving and accepting myself means creating community where that can happen. And if I’m really dreaming BIG, even if it scares me, why not simply include love and acceptance of everyone else in that vision? I want to love THAT BIG.
So let me ask you: Why are you on the planet, today? What is your big mission, the thing you want for yourself more than anything that money could buy?
And why do you want that? What will it give you? What does it tap into for you, or what is its significance for the rest of the world or your family or…?
Having established a Life Vision, you’re in this really lovely place where you get to look around and make choices. The question becomes: “Does this support my Life Vision?”
- Does your career support your Vision?
- Your relationships? (The people themselves need not support the Vision—but do they provide the opportunity? For instance, even if I don’t get along with someone, that’s an opportunity to step into my Vision and practice love and acceptance.)
- How you care for yourself?
- The choices you make?
Sometimes when I’m in conflict with someone, and I really really really want to pop off a sarcastic remark, my next thought is: “Would that support your Vision?” Well, no—so it’s better not to make that comment. This has been instrumental in heading off more than one argument!
I’m not always successful in living my Vision, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be perfect at it. That’s okay. The Vision is something that is “stepped into.” Imagine yourself being in a stuck place and then deciding to cross the threshold of a door. On the other side of that door is your Vision, and all the choices that support that Vision. You’re choosing to step into it.
I find having a Life Vision to be an incredibly practical, grounding thing to have. There’s no sense of purple light and woo-woo and fairies in it, for me—it’s about how I want to show up on the planet at a time in the world where we desperately need people who have some kind of mission or will for themselves that supports not only the individual but the community, the world.
Using the questions above, share your own Life Vision in the comments, below. What’s your life about? What’s your Vision for your life? What would you most like to see happen in your lifetime?
(P.S. Literally—share it! If you think that the Life Vision that I’ve described here is your perfect match, go ahead and adopt “Loving and accepting myself, so that I can love and accept everyone else, and thus facilitate healing in the world” as your Vision!).
Oh, and–over at Jamie Ridler Studios, The Courageous Year is having a giveaway!
(Excerpted from The Courageous Living Guide):
Like, every life coach on the planet has written the “self-care is important” post.
I know. But if we aren’t involved in a practice that involves Self-Care, it’s pretty difficult to make larger goals happen. Not caring for the self is a form of not being present, and change doesn’t happen without getting present.
Self-care has to start gently–not with to-do lists of more “things to do,” but rather coming from a place that is beyond to-do lists and beyond the facade and beyond all the stuff that later gets used to beat ourselves up.
In the Courageous Living Program, I talk about the concept of BEing your journey, which means embracing everything that comes into the circle of your existence, rather than expend massive amounts of energy trying to control what it all looks like. From there, we gently ease into Slowing. Down.
How can you practice BEing your journey? Take time to do Just. One. Thing:
So often we tell ourselves that self-care must take the form of a fancy tropical vacation, or getting away from our jobs, or buying more “stuff.” In fact, it doesn’t. We can simply choose to Slow. Down.
I’m all about vacations; more power to you if you are able to take one. However, I think that there’s a much simpler—and less expensive!—form of self-care. It can be implemented into any schedule.
It’s part of the Drama Diet.
It is: Slow. Down.
Also good news? If you’re thinking, “I just don’t have time for a lot of self-care practices. I need one that I can focus on,” then great—I have it.
Slow. Down. In fact, I think that this is the one practice that anyone could do and perhaps they’d never even touch the rest, but their lives would benefit immensely just from this one.
Slowing down can look a lot of different ways. It can look like stopping and taking a breath on a street corner, observing the people walking by, and then being on your way. It can look like a formal meditation practice. It can look like laying on your back and watching clouds. It can look like making eye contact with everyone you meet. Don’t get caught in the trap that it has to be this big production. Instead, sink into just slowing…down…
Whatever way of slowing down you choose, integrating this into your self-care practice is so, so essential.
People often have enormous resistance to just Slowing Down. As Cheri Huber writes in her phenomenal book There Is Nothing Wrong With You,
“The reason acceptance isn’t more popular is that in acceptance, there is nothing to do. In acceptance, there is nothing ‘wrong’ that needs to be changed, fixed, worked on or otherwise improved. And the simple, astounding, mind-bogglingly amazing fact is that as soon as you accept yourself exactly as you are, all of those ‘character flaws’ begin to fall away because those ‘flaws’ exist only in non-acceptance, in self-hate.”
Notice that Huber never says (and I’m not saying) that acceptance is devoid of action. You can completely and totally accept your process and what it looks like and all of the delicious things that show up—the frustrations, the joys, the detours, the distractions, the goodness, the badness—you can be present to all of that. That’s noticing. Acceptance as I’m thinking of it is not giving up, nor is it what the “losers” are left with.
Acceptance is freedom because when we are okay with reality just being reality, we suffer less. It will take you as much time to accomplish your goals as it is going to take. Period. No more time, no less time. Can you (will you) accept that? Can you be okay with how long it will take? There will be as many challenges along the way as there will be challenges along the way. No more challenges, no fewer challenges. Can you accept that? Can you be okay with challenges coming up as you’re BEing your journey?
The way to get into acceptance when you notice you’re not accepting, or to avoid going into non-acceptance in the first place, is to adopt a practice of slowing down.
When you don’t slow down and get present to what is, in this moment right here—not the past moment or the worrying about the future moments—it gets very difficult to notice those inner critic voices and do something about them. When we’re preoccupied, rushing, fretting, moving too quickly, those inner critic voices run on autopilot and can wreak havoc on our moods—which wreaks havoc on our emotional states—which then makes us less motivated to change our lives.
So make it a regular, daily practice to somehow slow down—meditation, walking slowly, taking deep breaths are my first go-tos, but I think that taking time to just notice, listen closely, make a lot of eye contact, stare at the sky, etc., are all just as valid—and you’ll start to notice that it’s easier to “catch” those inner critic voices before they can run amuck. And if they do run amuck, going to “present” can help to calm them.
Stop right now, even. Get present to what is. What is right in front of you? How does the paper feel in your hands? What is to your right? To your left? What sounds do you hear? What smells do you smell?
The illusion is that taking a few moments to breathe every day is a waste of time when there are “so many other important things to do.”
In fact, taking a moment to breathe every day, to be present, is what gets things done.
These inner critic voices are going to win, and win, and win, and win until you slow down. Take a moment. Start getting more present throughout your day.
When I take even just five minutes to sit in a chair or my zafu (meditation cushion) and stare at a wall in silence, focusing on my breath, I am much better equipped to notice the inner critic voices that come up and then start working with them.
Sometimes people say, “I wanted to really be present today, but then the whole day went by and I wasn’t present for any of it! What do I do if I want to use a tool but my problem is forgetting?”
The problem isn’t forgetting. The problem is not creating space for something to be born. In these cases where “forgetting to be present” keeps coming up, instead of trying to be present to every moment, start taking a time-out each day where you simply don’t do anything but stare at a wall, a flickering candle, the sky, whatever, and breathe. Skip the usual meditation instruction to “think about nothing” and instead, go ahead and even attach the thought “Inhale” when you inhale and “Exhale” when you exhale. This time of seemingly “Doing nothing” is creating the space for more presence through you day.
Sitting quietly need not be called meditation. There need not be a zafu. There need not be incense or special music. You can make it what you wish to make it. For many people, walking through nature is their “meditation.”
Whatever path you choose, the instruction is simple: create space for yourself within each day to just slow down and get present to your breath or to the present moment. Start there, and watch how, with time, the rest starts to slowly take care of itself.
Optional Exercises: How will you create this exercise for yourself? What does Slowing…Down…look like for you? I believe that we can powerfully create this as a unique experience for each of us. What’s your form of Slowing Down, or what form do you wish to adopt?
After having a really loved-filled weekend , here are some thoughts I wrote down in my Moleskine on Courageous Living. The trickiest places, I think, are in those tangled and triggered human relationships. In every moment, we have this opportunity when we interact with other people sharing this world with us to act with integrity, to face our choices about the experience we will have with someone else.
Whatever we see in the world, that is us, too. Cultivate a willingness to compassionately drop down into the zero center of someone else’s imperfection, and you’ll see their pain, and piece of your own. We are not so very different. We are far more alike than we often believe. With courageous hearts, we can change the world. So here goes:
In the face of complaints, look that person in the eye and imagine what it might have been like to be raised to see only what is wrong.
In the face of selfishness, wonder what it might be like to walk the world with a feeling of lack, of depletion.
In the face of insults, consider where this person first learned that it’s okay to abuse others.
In the face of disconnection, think about what causes it, and ask if your response will widen the river between the two of you.
In the face of laziness, recognize the fear of living big dreams.
In the face of extremism or fundamentalism, see the clinging, as well as the terror-filled silence that would arise for that person if they risked letting go.
In the face of controlling behavior, understand the chaos that must have bred it.
In the face of “always needing to be right,” see how often this person was once made wrong.
In the face of arrogance or bravado, hold gently that still, small piece that says “I’m not enough.”
In the face of drama or attention-seeking, see the person who wishes so much to be seen.
In the face of accusation, imagine what it might be like to live life with suspicion.
In the face of judgement or comparisons, step into the opportunity the world has just provided you for practicing love and acceptance.
In the face of passive-aggressiveness, recognize the child that wasn’t taught a safe way to express their truth.
In the face of anger, see the pain of isolation from others.
Most importantly: In the face of ferocious hatred, believe in the possibility that there exists the potential for equally as big, intense, lovely and fiery ferocious love.
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Check out this Love Letter to the world from @katecourageous: http://ctt.ec/f7uw6