If creating an authentic life were easy, everyone would be doing it. Sadly, life transitions have a way of pushing us off track with our happiness focused on extrinsic motivation as opposed to our intrinsic dreams and desires.
So, why does this happen?
When we are young, no one really tells us the importance of living authentically. We learn to focus on other things like getting good grades, making the team, going to the right college and landing the perfect job. We make choices based on what others think we should do rather than what we think we should do.
Then one day we find ourselves in unfulfilling jobs or relationships, or thrown off by an unexpected life transition questioning the purpose and meaning in our lives.
How to create a more authentic life during a life transition
Forgive and Let Go
Forgiving yourself and loved ones for past wounds is an important step to living a more authentic life during a life transition. Holding on to anger or sadness is only a burden. It’s important that you release all resentment before carving out your new reality and moving forward.
Equally important is forgiving yourself for any mistakes you’ve made in the past. Leave them there and move on. The only person you’re hurting by holding on to resentment is yourself.
Remember, forgiveness isn’t about the other person. It’s not about saying what the other person said or did was OK, it’s about giving up your right to seek vengeance and justice.
Resentment is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person gets sick. Seems pretty silly doesn’t it?
Develop A Clear Vision
You probably already know what hasn’t worked for you in the past, but do you have a clear idea of what it is you really want? How often do you spending thinking about what you do want versus what you don’t want?
Who do you want to be? How do you want to act? Or look? Is your job fulfilling? Is your relationship fulfilling? If not, what job or career would suit you better? What partner would suit you better? What kind of people do you want to be surrounded with in your life?
During a life transition, you have to really envision your authentic life – down to the most exquisite detail. This requires taking an honest and often painful look in the mirror and having a hard conversation with yourself. But have fun dreaming about it and creating it in your mind. Just be honest with yourself.
Visualize as many aspects of it as you can and really feel how it would feel if you lived there. What would it smell like? What would it look like? What would it feel like when you woke up in the morning? What would it feel like when you went to bed at night?
Not only will this help you make the right choices but propel you when you find making changes to be difficult.
Challenge Your Beliefs
Since your old life was created based on all the beliefs you had, it stands to reason you may need to challenge some of these. Holding tightly to the same beliefs that got you here will only hold you back and keep you stuck.
Study your beliefs and hold them up to scrutiny. Try poking holes in them and seeing them for what they are. Where did they originate from? Are they helpful? If you allow them to guide your actions and behaviors, do they move you toward the life you want?
Maybe you’ve never thought you were good enough at painting, a hobby you’ve always wanted to take up. Ask yourself why you believe this. Did this belief really come from you, or your third grade art teacher?
Take some time to go through each of your childhood beliefs about yourself to understand where they came from and determine if they are serving your best interest.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of meditation and journaling.
Putting your life back together is no small project and there may be times when you feel frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed. This is OK. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking everyone around you has their shit together. Remember, everyone is struggling with something you know nothing about.
While friends and family members can give you a shoulder to cry on, they can’t necessarily give you professional advice. Not that a therapist should be giving “advice” either. A good therapist, coach or counselor will listen to you, provide tools and strategies with an objective viewpoint to help you explore your emotions, strengths and weakness and teach you how to leverage them into the life you’ve dreamed of living.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.