How rigid are you? I have a friend who has what I call a cookie cutter life. Karen was raised to be a traditional sort of woman and became teacher because she was told it’s a good profession for women. She has the two children she thought she should have and a husband who makes a decent living. In her spare time she’s active in the PTA and tries hard to be a good wife and mother. She’s doing everything she thinks she should yet when we get together, she shares how much she envies my life.
While Karen does what she sees as “the right thing,” she’s bored. She loves her kids and husband but feels unfulfilled. In school she edited her college paper and was active in clubs. Always ready to tackle something new, Karen’s passions abounded. But then she grew up and believed that meant settling into the slot of wife and mother. She became a teacher because it seemed the best profession for being good in her slot. But as my cup runneth over with passionate activities, Karen’s slot is choking her.
She lives with blinders about what she should and shouldn’t do. Brought up to please others, she finds it hard to put herself first. Karen had a novel in her head years ago. It’s still there, teasing her when she thinks about it. When I suggest she try to write for even twenty minutes every day, her eyes light up at the idea but then she balks, saying there’s no place for writing in her life. When I ask why not, she looks confused. He creativity is like a muscle that’s been allowed to atrophy from lack of exercise.
I used to be like that when I was a DoorMat. And know how it feels to stifle urges to do something when you feel you should stay on the accepted track. When I finally left DoorMatville, I was also released from the prison of following a steady path. I tried many things and took a lot of heat for some of my choices, but the happiness that came with those choices tempered what people thought of them. Now I got through life like a gymnast—keeping my passions very flexible by exercising them in all direction. That gets you out of ruts like Karen was in.
Flexibility allows you to adjust your direction if something comes up that’s good but not what you were going after. I didn’t get the career I have by mapping out a path and following it. Instead, I trusted that I’d be led to whatever was for my highest good and followed the trail that manifested. I began as a speaker and wrote materials to sell based on my workshops. Many people suggested I turn them into books. I didn’t know if I could write one but decided to try. Had I stayed on the path to just build my speaking and counseling path, I wouldn’t have just gotten my 14th book deal.
If I had decided to stick to just writing books, you wouldn’t be reading this blog. When someone suggested I write one, I didn’t think I’d have enough to say, or the time to write it. But I was flexible enough to try. Lessons for a Recovering DoorMat will be 5-years old this summer! My whole career developed from taking opportunities that came my way, even if they hadn’t been on my radar screen. I bend to situations that I might enjoy, even if they seem to not fit into what I do. People try to slot me and get confused about how I can write books on self-empowerment, relationships, music business and more. Because I’m a writer and am expert in several areas.
Karen was asked to write for her PTA newsletter but turned it down because she wanted to write a novel. She still hasn’t written anything. Doing the newsletter might have stoked her passion for writing, which could have motivated her writing the book. Instead, she’s still envying me for being a writer and feeling unfulfilled. Having responsibilities at home doesn’t mean you can’t do something satisfying for you. As a matter of fact, you should make an effort to carve out a good space to do what would feel good. When you do, it makes you a better spouse, parent, colleague and friend. Happy people have more quality energy to give.
Opportunities happen. You can make excuses for not taking them or flex your mind to try something new that might lead to blessings you never expected. Life is about choices, not gluing yourself to one way. If you really want to live a full happy life, be more flexible about taking opportunities that might lead to something good for you.
Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge–a pledge to do something loving for yourself for the next 31 days–and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at http://howdoiloveme.com. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts from 2012 HERE.
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