A friend called me as she was leaving Spectrum Club in Palos Verdes the other day to tell me what an amazing workout she just had. She said she was happy to be back into her exercise routine after recovering from an injury.
Quick check-in—have you ever noticed how your emotions reflect your actions?
When we are feeling fulfilled in life, our emotions and actions are in alignment—we are living our values. At times, however, certain situations in life will cause our priorities to shift. This is OK for a period of time. Then, it is time to get back on track so we actually feel in alignment with our values and are living them as often as possible.
My friend, for example, had made exercising a priority until she was sidelined by an injury. Getting back into her routine brought her back in alignment with her values, and thus made her happy.
Our values form the foundation for all that we do, think, believe and accomplish. Our values dictate our actions whether we are aware of it or not. Our values—such as spending time with family, getting enough exercise and creating time to learn something new—are what make up our unique self. Our emotional wellbeing always reveals whether we are actually living these values.
During difficult situations and the time that follows, sometimes the way we deal with things falls into a pattern. Depending on the pattern, sometimes our priorities become distorted, preventing us from feeling fulfilled in life.
Whether you dealing with a difficult situation or a transition in life, here are three quick steps to clear out any patterns that may be blocking you from seeing the results you would like in your life:
Review. You can become aware of any patterns that are holding you back by taking some time to review a few areas in your life. Have you found yourself in a pattern of always choosing security over happiness? For example, sometimes we get too comfortable where we are, and we tend to choose security over happiness. This may be present in our careers, relationships and goals.
Perhaps you can sense a pattern in a few areas in your life where you’ve remained stagnant because you are comfortable. Yes, it is important to have a job—especially these days—but ask yourself if your values are real and meaningful to you. You will find satisfaction in a job that is associated with the degree to which your personal values match those of your coworkers. Both people and organizations have values, and they need to be shared values.
Maybe you’ve been doing the same exercise routine for years because it is familiar and safe, and you’ve avoided setting any new goals for yourself. You have fallen into a comfortable routine that has become monotonous, and you are no longer seeing beneficial results in your workouts. You’ve noticed your motivation for exercising is beginning to wane.
Release. Once you are aware of the areas in your life where you are holding back, take some time to let go of what is blocking you from living your values. This may involve going deep and having the courage to really look at your life. Is your career in alignment with your own values? How about your closest relationships? Research has shown that we tend to find meaning, fulfillment and success when we are supported in our relationships, groups and organizations that share our values.
Perhaps you may need to look at how you view yourself in your life and release the need to be a perfectionist. Are your workout goals unrealistic and causing you to over exercise, leaving little time for friends? Are you working overtime, struggling to make every assignment perfect? Could it be possible that trying to be perfect at everything in life is stopping you from being balanced in your time with friends and family? Maybe you have fallen into the pattern of trying to please everyone and win approval, sacrificing your own happiness. Releasing a pattern that isn’t effective is key.
Replace. Reflecting on what will replace your old, worn out pattern is necessary to determine the results you would like to see in your life. Recognizing and changing your pattern can be a long process, depending on the pattern and how badly you wish to make a change. Be patient with yourself. Slowly let go of the old pattern as you adjust to your new one. Soon the old pattern will dissolve, and you will begin to see more results with your new behavior.
A client of mine mentioned how she feels she is in a vicious cycle of feeling negative about herself because she exercises hard, but her diet keeps slipping—badly. Sadly, she doesn’t see consistent results in her efforts and becomes frustrated. She was aware that she had emotional eating patterns and wanted to release the negative cycle and replace it with a self-nurturing activity. She made a list of self-care acts to choose from whenever the urge to fall back into her vicious cycle of overeating and over-exercising returned. Instead of giving in, my client would choose instead to indulge in a good book or take a walk on the Esplanade.
Life has difficult situations that will challenge our priorities. Sometimes this can feel uncomfortable because all of a sudden some of our values may appear to be shifting. Instead of worrying, we just need to take some time to review what is really important to us. When our values are clear to us, better patterns can be formed.
What type of ways have you found to effectively replace negative patterns in your life? Feel free to share.
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