Many people go through life living a lie, pretending to be someone they are not and they are miserable. It is invariably not their fault as we are cast into roles in our early and formative years that we often don’t choose. “Be an accountant” or “Study for the Bar and be a lawyer” say your parents, believing that this will be a steady and well-regarded profession and give you money and all the things they maybe never had. They want the best for you but dismiss your dream of being an artist or whatever you loved at five years old.
So, in this time of reassessment and ‘new normal’ going forward this is the moment to find out what would make you happy. To live your truth.
You only have one life to live. Live it your way. If family or friends do not approve, that is their problem. Do not make it yours. Clearly this is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for being completely insensitive. It is not saying, do what you want to do or say what you want to say to anyone, anytime, but it is about you allowing yourself to be your authentic and best self.
What people think of you is none of your business. Remember: “To thine own self be true.” Being yourself unblocks your energy. It frees you up. It allows you to live from your power. The world is waiting for you. It is time to be you. You can’t be anyone else, they are already taken.
When I cleared out the attic in my parents’ home after the sad death of my father, I found boxes of items I barely remembered. My Brownie and Guide badges, rusty key rings and trinkets in a battered biscuit tin. Valentine’s cards (many in my mother’s handwriting that I had failed to recognise as a child!), padded birthday cards with kittens on them. Teenage love and my Twinkle Album 1968. In the front was a template saying: ‘When I grow up I want to be…….’ I had filled in ‘An actress and a doctor in my spare time’. At that age, nothing holds us back. Want to be a spaceship captain? Why certainly. Want to be an actress and also a doctor? Why not? Walt Disney looked across an expanse of arid land in LA and didn’t see orange trees. He saw Disneyland in his imagination. Now within Disney are people with job titles such as Chief Visioneer. First, you have to dream it or vision it then it becomes real.
When you are a child, before enough people (including teachers and members of one’s family) have said: “Don’t be silly, you can’t do that…” or, in the case of a recent client of mine, “You are not cut out for the BIG stuff, just lower your expectations”, you had dreams. The big challenge is that after others stop saying “no” or “don’t be silly” to us, we are so hardwired that we continue the dialogue with ourselves, every single day. “Who am I to think I can get that job/partner/lifestyle?” Better not to try than face the hurt and humiliation of failure.
In psychology, this concept is known as the Internal Corrections Officer. When you are young, your parents, teachers, etc, take on the role of the ‘corrections officer’, telling you “don’t be silly” or “lower your expectations”. When you are older, you internalise this and in the absence of those adults you become your own corrections officer, telling yourself that you are no good.
Ask yourself today: “What would I dare to dream if nothing is in the way?” As you imagine, be careful to make it a ‘How’ free zone. In business and life, you need those who focus on the ‘how’. It’s important but it can also stifle dreams.
I’m a ‘What’ person. ‘What if we could… what would this look like?’ A maverick.
Clearly you need a team to support your vision, including the ‘How’ people. Otherwise you may decide to get to the other side of the river but have no idea how to build the bridge, or you start to build the bridge with no idea of how it will be secured at the other side. Focusing on ‘How’ in this scenario will mean that you are left standing on the bank of the river waiting for a ferryman. ‘How’ will never move you forward with a vision or life purpose if you get caught up on it.
So back to the question: what would you dare to dream if nothing was in the way? A different job? House? Lifestyle? Body? Relationship? Let’s face it, if Donald Trump can imagine being President of the USA and pull it off, anything is possible!
Take a moment now. Grab a pen and paper or just close your eyes and visualise. What would you dream? If everything were available to you and everything were possible, what would your life and body and inner self look and feel like?
Then ask yourself: What made you happy at five, six, seven or eight years old? If you imagine yourself to be eight sitting in front of your Twinkle Album, question what might you have written.
Take a moment and write it down now. In as much unfettered detail as a child would dare to imagine.
Then think further. In between the ages of 8 and 17, before you had to be channelled into a job, or career, or university degree or next life stage, what did you dream of?
Again, take a moment and write that down also.
Often what made us happy as children reveals our true self. At age eight I loved to read and write. I wrote poems and short stories and won prizes for them.
Now you are going to take it a step further and you will be amazed by just what is inside of you waiting to guide you forward.
Letter to my younger self
You are now going to write a letter to your younger self.
It is really cathartic and can heal an inner part of you that you carry around with you every day.
For this part of the exercise, choose a younger you at a time that was difficult.
Be clear about how old the younger you that you are writing to is. Be real and authentic and drill down to a few really specific lessons or topics that you wish your younger you had known or felt at a heart level at that time. This isn’t a shopping list or a way to put pressure on that former you. Be kind, imagine that younger you as you would a dearly loved younger member of your family. Imagine that you are gently holding your younger self by the shoulder as you speak to them. Use ‘you’ and the present tense.
Here is a letter I wrote to my 25-year-old self. At the time I was working in Dewsbury at a company I didn’t like, living alone during the week in a bedsit in Headingly Leeds, with no phone and ticking off the days until I returned to my shared house in London. Increasingly I found that when I got back to London my friends would have gone away for a fun weekend. The sense of failure and isolation was so great that I felt suicidal at times and lonely pretty much all the time. It was a very difficult nine months of my life.
I want you to take five minutes, sit down, breathe deeply and remember that you are a wonderful, heartfelt young woman.
What seems like a fork in the road now will lead to greater opportunities. You have courage in spadefulls and do twice what most people do in half the time but remember you are a human being and be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for your choices or feel life is hard and unfair. Do not allow yourself at this time to feel depressed or that life isn’t worth living. It is. I promise.
You are very sensitive and vulnerable but wear such an effective mask that others often see you as impenetrable and totally in control. They even try to pull you down because of it.
Know now that daring to show your vulnerability and to be open to others, to stop judging yourself and others by impossible levels of perfectionism, will be the greatest and kindest gift you can ever give yourself.
Know that you are more than enough and that your intellect and emotional intelligence will take you further than you can ever imagine so you don’t need to worry about striving for success. The less you try, the more successful you will be. When you trust your inner intuition and tap into your inner power you will not just make the right choices but intuitively take the right action at the right time.
Do not let those who are afraid of your light try to dim it. You are a maverick. You see things differently and do things differently and that, coupled with your great sense of compassion, will make the world a better place.
You are curious, so remember that questions are the answer. Do not be afraid to ask questions, seek a better path, do not be a lemming and follow the herd to fit in, even if this makes others uncomfortable. Yours is a path to change the world and this will not always be comfortable to you or others. Treat their fear with grace and understanding.
Smile. People will always love you for it.
Find out what makes you happy and pursue it every day. Feel at ease with this as all that you need is already within you. Enjoy the journey. Even the bumpy roads will give you a new level of wisdom. Know that you do have a spiritual gift and will experience events, insights and visions that others will try to rubbish. Don’t let them. Trust yourself.
Learn to let go. It makes skiing, sex and so much more really wonderful. Speaking of which, don’t confuse sex for love or see the need for human contact and connection as anything other than sacred and wonderful. Use your body and value your body as you would worship a goddess. Remember you are more powerful, sexy, physical and sensual than you could ever know. Do not let sexual shaming or guilt diminish this either. Sex is like breath itself and vital and wonderful.
Know your worth. This is true for finding your future life partner, work, friends and all other connections. For many years you will be the power behind the throne. Notice now that much of the fame and fortune of those around you has been in part created by you. If you want to enjoy that or step into the limelight too then do not feel restricted or not good enough. Do for yourself what you do for others.
Pay close attention to your health and finances. Know that to be wealthy you need a balance of faith, fitness, friends, family, finance and forgiveness and be mindful to keep that balance always. Learn to meditate and be present.
It is not your job to make everyone around you happy, or kind or fulfilled. That is their journey. You are not a cash cow for others. Earning money and providing for your future family is not your sole responsibility. Do not sacrifice your health or happiness for success.
Trust that you know what is right for you. Create great and healthy and nurturing habits.
Understand that you studied for an English Literature degree because you feel things deeply, enjoy time alone and have a connection to all that is real and true in this world. Write your own books and share your wisdom sooner rather than later. It will just flow from you as you tap into something even beyond your present understanding. You are meant to be this messenger and change agent but you are not supposed to compromise your own happiness or health for it.
Only connect. Understand that people who need people really are the happiest people of all. We are all in this together.
There is so much more I could share but you know that you will be more than OK, more than enough. You will shine and grow and love and be loved and your life will enrich others. Feel that and love it.
Oh yes and have intimacy with yourself. It means Into Me See.
I see into you and I’m so excited by it, moved by it, in love with it.
Yaba daba doo!
Rosalyn (June 2020) xx
Now it is your turn. As I say to most of my coaching clients at sometime or other JFDI – Just F***ING do it! It is not only cathartic but it will reveal truths and desires that you are maybe doubting that you really have already. As my bracelet says: “All I need is within me”. Close your eyes, go within and then open them and write that letter to your amazing, beautiful younger self.