Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

By Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D. 

In the early stages of life we are often focused on pleasing others…parents, teachers, bosses, and spouses. In an effort to get our needs met, we learn to play by other people’s rules. But as we mature, we become more competent, independent, and able to meet our own needs. We are then less motivated to do what others want us to do. We tire of keeping up appearances, and care much less about what other people think. We no longer want to chase someone else’s dream; we want to live our own dreams. In short, we come to grips with the idea of being our own person. Now we just want to live a life that feels right. We want to be free of inner turmoil and outer chaos. Instead of approval, we are more likely to seek a sense of inner peace…the kind that accompanies authentic living.

I suspect that you can probably name several people who have taken considerable risks in order to lead more authentic lives. Perhaps you know someone who turned down a promotion to have more time with her family, forfeited a steady income to start up a new business, or left an unhappy marriage facing the firm disapproval of friends and family. Maybe you know someone who started a family after forty, got a high school diploma in midlife, or took early retirement in order to work full-time as a volunteer.

When you fashion a life where the decisions you make and the actions you take are considered, deliberate, and in harmony with what’s important to you, you are living an authentic life. It is not necessarily a life that others admire or think is right for you, but a life that you know in your heart is right for you. It may not be a life that has been your habit, but it is a life that makes you greet each day with enthusiasm and sleep peacefully at night.

The more honest you can be–with yourself and with others–about who you are and what you need to be fulfilled, the more likely you are to create a life that’s right for you. But excavating your truth may seem like a daunting task. With all the busyness of our everyday lives, self-reflection may seem self-indulgent. “I don’t have time to sit around contemplating my navel,” you might think. “I’ve got responsibilities to meet.”

But that’s the irony. If we move as fast as we can down a path that leads us away from our true desires, we end up backtracking anyway, or going around in circles searching for the place that feels like home. When we don’t take the time to tune in to what’s best for us next, we actually waste time with many false starts and journeys that might otherwise be avoided. An authentic life is built from the inside out…with attention to one’s inner wisdom. Perhaps you could simply begin each day with a question: “What is important to me?” Or spend 20 minutes in meditation each morning, letting your inner voice surface. You might try 10 minutes of journaling every day for week, and then see what wisdom surfaces. Maybe you could take one weekend a month and retreat to nature for an hour or so where you could reflect on what kind of person you have become and what kind of person you aspire to be. To live authentically you need not spend two weeks on a mountaintop in Tibet (although that might be terrific too). You simply have to make time on a regular basis for self-reflection. Tune in to who you are, what you want, and what is best for you next. The rest will unfold.

Read Part 2 on Monday, January 12


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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

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