By Darlene Coleman
About 20 years ago, in my former life, I was working as a loan officer for a financial company. One day, I had a conversation with another woman in my office asking for her opinion about a current relationship issue I was having. I was great at that: asking other people what I should do about my relationships, or about one issue or another. She gave me her opinion and some good advice, something along the lines of, “Don’t eat the elephant all in one bite.”
I remember as she left my office asking myself, “Why am I deferring to someone else about what I should do in my life?” Why didn’t I know those answers? Why didn’t I know what was best for me? After all, wasn’t it my life I was asking about?
That day was a significant moment in my life. It was the beginning of a process of serious self-exploration that started me on an incredible journey and, ultimately, led me down an entirely different path. That fateful day, I set out with an intention to discover who I was, what I liked, and what would truly make me happy. I decided to get to know me. It was one of the catalysts that led to this very moment, here and now, sharing with each of you, and I am so grateful.
It has been quite a journey so far, one that has been filled with heartache, turmoil, and confusion. But it also has offered incredible joy, growth, awareness, and expansion, leaving me with a real sense of self, as well as a passion for helping others. It remains an ever-evolving process.
For that to happen, however, I had to first be willing to meet myself—a scary prospect.
When I say meet “myself,” I am pointing beyond the labels or titles that some would say define us: mother, teacher, doctor, student, etc. The process is so much more than that. It is about getting beyond those labels and meeting who remains when they are all stripped away. If you are willing to take the journey, you will begin to uncover what it is that you are genuinely passionate about, as well as begin to recognize your purpose to evolve.
When we are born, we come into an environment that already contains existing beliefs and structures and stories about who we are. Certain systems are already in place that many times will dictate to us the course of our lives. I once heard Alan Watts say, and I’m paraphrasing: When we’re born our parents don’t say, “Look, we did it this way, and we did our best, but maybe we got some things wrong. There are some areas we never explored or tried, and maybe we could have done things differently. Maybe there was a better way…” More likely than not, we trod along, content to believe what we’ve learned, or were told to believe, is what is!
The thing about us as humans, however, is that we need to have these stories, or more importantly, the answers. We need something that seems solid, or right. Something that we can cling to that makes us feel a bit safer in the world by believing we know what it’s all about, by believing that we understand the “why”—but it’s only our stories.
They are simply ideas to create meaning in our lives, and how we believe in them dictates how we will experience life. If you think about it, it is all about perception. We have created a perception based on our beliefs, and our beliefs are creating our choices.
There is a famous Gandhi quote that says:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”
Bottom line, our beliefs create our destiny. We’ve come to believe the world operates in certain ways, and that our way is the right way, and “they” shouldn’t do this or that. We form our realities around the stories we believe to be true.
More importantly, we reinforce these stories within ourselves: “This is why I can’t do that.” “This is why I will never have what I want…” Think about all of the things you’ve never even tried because of your story.
Eventually, it becomes incumbent upon us, then, to examine our beliefs and the views that we have created for ourselves. We must look carefully at our choices and what they represent. Perhaps the not-so-rose-colored glasses that we sometimes perceive the world through need to be removed. Then we need to consider if the view we are seeing is the reality we want to exist in.
We can begin to understand our beliefs by examining our choices, and our choices are evidence of who we are—at least in those moments.
When you make a choice, what lens are you looking through? What belief system comes into play? Are you making the choice through fear or are you making the choice from a place of deep knowing within you? It is important to know the difference. You may think, “What will my choices reveal about me?” If you are in fear of the answers you ultimately will make the choices that allow others to feel comfortable, not necessarily the ones you want.
With each choice comes a different experience. Don’t be afraid of them. It’s all just experience, and it’s because we have not yet fully discovered ourselves that we sometimes choose the painful ones. But even in these cases, there are no wrong choices—just different experiences. How you respond to those choices is evidence of who you are. It is in those moments that you come to know yourself.
Ask yourself, “Who am I in this experience right now? Am I kind? Am I angry? Am I open or closed minded? Am I fulfilled? Am I joyful? Am I selfish? Am I scared? Am I prejudice?
The answers to all you are and to all you desire lie within you—within your own heart, within your choices, and they are different for everyone. The gifts are there for the taking.
So, I ask; “Who are you? I dare you to find out!
Darlene Coleman is a certified Life Coach, Reiki Master/ Teacher, and instructor specializing in Neurolinguistics, Hypnosis, and Energy Healing. Her extensive studies in holistic healing have led to successful treatments relieving emotional and physical pain experienced by children, adults, and seniors. A graduate of Bennett-Stellar University, Darlene provides coaching services to clients ranging from athletes to writers, and is the author of the “I-Stop Smoking” workbook and addiction-cessation program. Darlene is also available for speaking engagements. Visit DarleneColemanCoaching.com.