Advice to my 30-year-old Self.
After looking in the mirror, I wrote a series of articles focused on giving advice to myself as a 30-year-old, knowing what I know now. The first was 2 Words of Advice that can help us at Every Stage of Life and focused on this advice: “know thyself.”
The reason I began with “know thyself” is simple: if we do not know ourselves at the deepest level and in the most honest way possible, every decision that we make moving forward will be based on illusions and false assumptions that will inevitably have to be confronted later in life.
This article builds upon the previous one, which ended with an exercise; check it out and then read on.
That exercise was designed to help us begin discovering what is true for ourselves, versus what family, friends, or the world at large expects from us in relation to love, career, friendship, spirituality, and life experiences. We wrote, in a brutally honest way, why we’re actually doing various things to begin discovering the truth behind what we do in our lives.
Each of the articles that follow will build upon this first exercise to provide a clear road map that supports our life journey—the more we put into it, the better. Think of this as a step in a process that will encourage us to practice living truthfully and reorient our life around what matters most, while also learning to let go of what doesn’t serve our truth at the deepest level.
Once we’re anchored in our truth of “why,” the rest will follow.
Go back to the list of everything that you’re currently doing in your life—in love, career, friendship, spirituality, and life experiences. Revisit the answers to the question: why am I doing this? Review your answer in relation to each item on the list.
Working through this exercise, we may have discovered that our feelings came into conflict with the truth behind why we’re doing anything. It is human nature to rationalize away the incongruence felt when we’re acknowledging our deeper truth. In most cases, we may even be afraid to admit the truth behind our why.
In his book, Post-Truth, Lee McIntyre argues:
“It is easy to identify a truth that someone else does not want to see. But how many of us are prepared to do this with our own beliefs? To doubt something that we want to believe, even though a little piece of us whispers that we do not have all the facts?”
Let’s go back and read the responses we’ve written in relation to each thing we’re doing. Let’s ask ourselves, again, were we as honest as we could have possibly been when writing the “why” behind what you do? Feel free to rewrite it as much or as little as needed, but write until we know we’ve been brutally honest with ourselves.
Now we should have a clearer idea as to what we’re doing in our lives that is truly positive versus negative. Of course, the end goal is to have more positive “whys.” There may be a few things that aren’t clearly positive or negative at this stage, which is totally cool. We’ll simply use what we have as a starting point to help us practice living more truthfully.
We’re ready to start the next exercise, which is to try to stop doing anything with a negative “why” behind it and focus on only doing as many things with a positive “why” behind it over the course of the next two weeks.
The goal is to become more and more aware of what we should keep in our lives and determine what we should let go of as we align more closely with our truth. This next exercise will help us practice over the next two weeks—or throughout our lives.
All of the items on our list rooted in negative reasons as to “why,” or those that were a bit murky, are the current obstacles in our lives that keep us from living more truthfully. In the next exercise, we’re going to become even more aware of the role they perform in our lives. Ask others to provide support by simply respecting any choices we’re making along the way instead of trying to convince us to do anything that isn’t aligned with our positive “whys.”
Inform friends, family, and colleagues about this exercise, why we’re doing it, and then ask them to support us by honoring our choices in relation to it. Even better, share this article and ask friends, family, and colleagues to do these exercises with us. By doing so, we’ll create a collectively supportive environment—and possibly good conversation. In turn, we’ll get to know more about the people closest to us, facilitate our bonding, or end relationships. Either way, the goal is to live truthfully, even if it means the end of relationships.
Now, start by revisiting the list; whatever felt the most positive and expansive when writing the reason why, these are the things we’re going to focus on doing for the next two weeks. As for the things on the list with a negative “why” behind them, the goal is to avoid doing those things at all costs over the next two weeks.
The aim is to commit for two weeks and to journal how we’re feeling along the way. We will fail and inevitably do things that aren’t aligned with our positive “whys,” but we are going to journal before we do them, while we’re doing them, and after we’ve done them to become more aware of our emotive landscape in relation to what we do.
Of course, if our livelihood depends on going to work and we feel like we hate our work, don’t undermine life by not going to work; simply practice with the things on our list that won’t have an immediate adverse impact on our lives.
For example, we may wish to start with more manageable things, like who we spend time with outside of work, what we eat, where we eat, how we eat, exercise, and so forth. The aim is to simply practice so we can get a feel for the process; don’t overanalyze it or worry about the outcome, just do it instinctively by tracking our emotions. We want to start using our gut and heart, while noting our feelings over our thoughts. No one is going to read what we write, so don’t let your inner critic hijack the process.
One way to hold ourselves accountable is to make an agreement with ourselves to donate one dollar each time we do something that has a negative “why” behind it and then donate the total amount to a cause that we hate, like Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.
If we don’t have a proper journal, we can just type notes on our phones, use a napkin, or use good old-fashion paper and pen. We don’t actually need to go buy a fancy journal to do the exercise. Again, don’t overcomplicate it.
Our goal is to simply note how we’re feeling—not what we’re thinking, but how we actually feel. Expansive, neutral, or contracted. If we want to log a note as we register our feelings, or if we want to write an essay, that’s fine, just stick with how we’re feeling emotively, and with the sensations in our bodies. This is going to become a future point of reference to ensure we’re living in truth. (Which is the subject of my next article.)
This exercise will also help further clarify the “why” behind what we do and will help us begin the process toward living in alignment with how we actually want to be because we’re paying attention to how we feel versus what we think about what we’re doing. We’re going to get better and better at knowing our “why” and letting go when our body isn’t resonating or in alignment with our choices.
We do not need to write down our feelings in relation to everything we’re doing—only focus on the list initially created in the first exercise. Remember, the goal is to get in touch with our emotive landscape.
When we first start this practice, we may find that the decisions we have to make disappoint others—and even ourselves. The reason this will happen is we’re only butting up against old ideas as to who we thought we should be in relation to ourselves and others. It’s okay if it feels uncomfortable; it’s simply cognitive dissonance, and our goal is to begin using the feeling of incongruence as a tool because there is no way to eliminate it.
Remember, we’re practicing how to know what’s true for ourselves versus what family, friends, or the world at large expects from us, so it’s invariably going to be uncomfortable.
Our relationships are likely to change as a result of this practice over time, which is okay. There are loads of people or organizations I don’t interact with any longer after going through this process. The best part is that it has opened space for all kinds of people aligned with truth to come into my life more recently, like this creative producer and musician, Dallas Thornton. Relationships are about quality, not quantity, despite however many people we’re connected to on social media platforms.
When we learn to purge that which doesn’t serve truth in our lives and realign with what does, life becomes more expansive and attracts others who are also seeking truth. Who wants to hang out with people who lie to themselves? Exactly!
We are literally creating space for new relationships and experiences to emerge in alignment with truth, which means we’ll be living even closer to the truth in every moment. Collectively, if more and more of us do this, we’ll begin creating a world where more and more people are living in truth.
Once we’re accustomed to dropping into our bodies, I’ll dive into how we can use it more deliberately to make both simple and complex decisions as we continue the process of living in alignment with truth.
The journey we’ve begun is about the process, not the outcome—so stick with the process. All of us will eventually find ourselves exactly where we need to be.
Don’t forget to journal and do sh*t that matters to you!