My son is in his final year of high school and is dealing with the extraordinary pressure of final graduation exams, in a tough international school environment.
Some years ago (in the midst of a Lego obsession) my son decided he wanted to be an engineer. So now, each night, we nag, cajole, bribe and barter with him to complete his Chemistry, Physics, Math, English and/or Technology studies. You know, all the subjects he chose in order to become a well-educated engineer.
Every night, he resists, procrastinates, pouts, resents and defies. Each day, he goes to school feeling guilty for under-performing, worried about his grades and overwhelmed by the pressure of it all. And he pleads with us “Can’t I just have a break? Leave school? Travel? Get some balance back in my life?”
The simple truth is that the process of becoming an engineer is sapping the soul out of my son. I mean draining him, completely, of all joy, enthusiasm and pleasure. And I believe it’s because engineering is not what truly inspires him.
There is a lot of chatter these days about how to find the right balance in life; how to carefully juggle life’s various factors to create optimum enthusiasm and productivity. But there is something inherently flawed with this viewpoint:
- It implies that we must inevitably spend a portion of our lives being depleted by what we do (with the idea that we remain in balance if we spend adequate time refilling our inner reserves)
- It drives many to look for synthetic and external solutions (aka the “right process”) rather than acknowledging that we have an innate awareness of what is right and true for us, as individuals
- It completely ignores our inherent ability (as natural creatures) to flourish in healthy environments, and the natural urge within us to seek out conditions in which we can thrive
Whereas we are taught to seek balance for greater well-being, I believe that we are actually wiser to strive for greater alignment.
What is alignment?
My son has an insatiable interest in languages. On most evenings, whilst avoiding his homework, he can be found researching ancient scripts or studying the linguistic similarities of indigenous peoples. The back pages of his school books are littered with carefully-crafted, fictional languages including grammar and syntax. On vacation (often around Asia) he will absorb foreign words and accents as if through osmosis. My son’s brain — an engineer’s brain — naturally breaks language into its smallest components and understands how each piece contributes to, and integrates with, the whole.
My son is a gifted linguist. He is deeply and naturally aligned with language, its power to unite, and its ability to map human history. But somehow, at an unknown point in his youth, he decided that some other career was more important than linguistics. More enticing. More acceptable.
With all of the limits, structures and beliefs we unconsciously inherit from society, it can be hard to align with your authentic self. But it’s incredibly easy to know when you have done so. When you are aligned:
- You have an insatiable drive and unlimited enthusiasm for a concept, career or project
- Authentic actions tend to shift dark moods; you feel uplifted and inspired during, and after, each task
- Your creativity is triggered; you prefer to formulate, not emulate
- Periods of downtime occur spontaneously and are based on a natural need to rest; not to escape or withdraw
- You respond to challenges and setbacks with a natural resilience, adaptability and determination
It’s important to understand that authenticity and alignment will not create a life devoid of drama or disappointment. But, when things do go awry, it does allow you to quickly and easily regain your equilibrium (balance, anyone?) because your sense of well-being does not rely on any external gratification. It flows consistently and effortlessly from within you.
So, how do we become aligned?
It is naive to believe that we can reverse a lifetime of social conditioning in a few simple steps. Reconnecting with your authentic self — rediscovering the desires, talents and values that emanate from your very core — takes time, commitment and self-awareness. However, there are a few fundamental keys to becoming more authentically You:
- Understand that your life situation is the result of every choice you have made. Then, review your choices based on how they make you feel, not on how they change the appearance of your life (social standing, reward, money etc)
- Stop trying to make the “right” decisions. Instead, take options that feel the most “interesting”, “inspiring”, “scary” or “fun”
- Make “what do I want?” a daily mantra. Don’t expect to have the answers; simply by asking this question regularly, you will trigger your unconscious mind to seek out more of what you are aligned with
- Practice meditation, mindfulness or self-reflection. These processes will allow you to mute the chatter of your mind (often just an echo of society) and connect with your authentic identity
- Allow yourself to evolve. As you become more aligned with your true values, beliefs and desires, you will inevitably shed many of the characteristics you have adopted from others. Explore how ‘new’ you can become each day
- Rid yourself of the disease to please. If you are working from a sense of alignment, then you are going to ruffle a few feathers along the way. Be gentle but firm … and always celebrate authenticity when you see it expressed in others
Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and intuitive consultant with over 15 years’ experience as a professional intuitive and spiritual teacher. She combines cutting edge science with traditional spirituality to offer the latest understandings of psi, consciousness and holistic well being. Find out more at www.kimforrester.net
Originally published at medium.com