If you haven't read the Series Kick Off on what it means to "Lean In"" to your own life, start here! I encourage you to read the whole thing. It'll give you a much better foundation for each part of this series than cruising individual parts separately. Then visit Part 1: Banishing Doubt.
Each new series article starts and ends the same way: with a review of the original "lean in" questions designed to help you determine if you're leaning in to your own life, and to get you CLOSER to doing it. Let's get started, shall we?
Are you leaning in to your own life?
What does "leaning in to your own life" mean? "Leaning in" means that you are making those personal and unique decisions to do what's in your heart. And not apologizing for or judging yourself for whatever that is. How can you begin to determine if you're leaning into your own life? Ask yourself this question:
"If I could do anything, what would I be doing?
Got that idea/dream/longing in your head? Okay, good. Now let's tackle what's in the way, AKA: diminish your guilt.
But wait, what exactly is guilt, really? And do you feel it? You may not even recognize your guilt. We all walk around with our own personal guilt, but it's the kind of emotion that can be felt more heavily and palpably by some than others.
First let's get clear. The dictionary definition of guilt :
A feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation.
Otherwise known as: self-reproach, self-condemnation, shame, a guilty conscience, pangs of conscience
... "Having failed in an obligation." Hm. Take a moment to reflect. What are the obligations you shoulder in your life? Being a good person? Mothering? Being a wife? Being a hard worker? Producing good results at your job? Providing for your family? Being a reliable friend? Attending all the events you're invited to? Being the fun one?
Write down as many of your obligations and roles as you can now.
For some people their guilt is latent and unrecognized -- they feel bothered by something but haven't quite realized it's guilt. Others are very familiar with their guilt. They're used to carrying it around with them like a bad buddy who joins in on every occasion.
Whether your guilt is more quiet or more brazen, one thing is for certain: guilt is a pain. (In fact, this is often why guilt is described as being felt like a pang. It literally is felt in the body). Over time, guilt can also make you bitter and resentful. Guilt is like a weight in your heart. It can be heavy. It's a drag. It's the voice in your head that tells you what you should be doing that you're clearly not doing.
(Pipe down, please!) We want to be weightless!
What is the voice of your guilt? Let's have your guilt talk to you so that you can finally answer.
Write your original desire here: Remember, no desire is too small. It can be anything from changing jobs or staying home with more with your kids, to finally going to a workout class 2x a week or saying no to an invitation. What's important is only that it's something that gets you closer to living that life you want and deserve.
Let's hear your guilt: It's time to uncover the messages you feel, tell yourself, and carry around that keep you from your desire. Finish the statements below:
- I can't do that because I should be doing:
- I shouldn't be doing that because it might hurt/impact:
- If I do that then I'm not fully doing:
- My responsibility is to do ____________ (insert obligation) and if I ___________ (insert desire) then I'm not being/doing _______________.
Is that enough? Add any other guilt messages you hold if the questions didn't uncover them.
Ugh, guilt, shut up already! Am I right? If only it were that easy. Let's talk back to your guilt. There are answers to our guilt, only we rarely feed ourselves those answers. Instead, we walk around with our "should-be" messages haunting our conscience and making us miserable.
So we'll flip the above questions. Make these answers detailed! They need to be meaningful to be as strong as guilt can be.
- I can do my desire because:
- It's okay to do my desire because:
- I should be doing it because it will be good for/positively impact:
- I can make shifts in these other areas of my life to accommodate doing it:
- Sure, my responsibility feels like it's _________________ (insert obligation), but I also deserve to ______________ (insert feelings/results of your desire) and by doing so I will be _____________.
Wow. Have you ever given yourself permission to recognize your answers above as valid, true, and reasonable?
Combine these answers with your answers to Part 1: Banishing Doubt. Keep them handy. Post them somewhere visible. Or pull them out and read them as often as you need to. We are well on our way to tackling the barriers of thought and messaging that are in your way.
Leaning in to your life means that you wholeheartedly step into the parts of the life that you envision for yourself. That you are doing what you want to be doing. Whatever that is. Fully and with your whole self. It means that fear and apology are diminishing and that confidence and fulfillment are increasing. That you are living the life you imagined.
Next week we'll be kick-dropping your fear. Can't wait to see you then!
Lauren L. Drago, MSEd, LMHC, LPC is the founder of Lauren Drago Therapy in Old Saybrook, CT and in greater CT, NY & PA. She specializes in working with smart, insightful and capable women to overcome stress, anxiety, loss of identity, self-limiting beliefs, perfectionism, marriage strain, and the pressure of "trying to do it all." Lauren has a passion for helping others to achieve the happy, fulfilling, productive, and meaningful life they deserve by changing how they experience and understand their world. She believes that every woman can and should live out her personal definition of her own best life. Follow Lauren on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Call (860) 339-6515 for your free initial 15-minute consultation.