Time for you to walk out, walk in your own shoes,
lay down your footprints wherever you choose. – Sarah McLachlan
While speaking with a health care provider recently, I said these words: “I feel as though I am walking in my own shoes.” In that moment, a stillness filled my body as I allowed this truth to resonate with me. I could see how after more than 40 years of self-discovery, my life reflected ME—what is important at the core of my being. In that moment, life felt sacred and I felt exhilarated. I wondered how many people truly enjoy lives that reflect their own agenda, not an agenda set in motion by an external someone or something.
“Walking in your own shoes” is a statement that describes living in alignment with choices that fill you with passion and purpose and make you feel alive. Your truth is not determined by your parents, your clan, your community, your race, religion, or your nationality; it reflects what is important to you. Once you have made conscious choices to either accept, modify or reject the programing set in place by others, you are free to be YOU. This inner work and increased self-awareness allow you to show up as your own person. The image that comes to my mind is Pinocchio. The moment the strings were cut; he was free to be REAL.
Perhaps it takes the wisdom that comes with maturity and adversity to build your own shoes and have the courage to wear them. All of the experiences of your life enable you to discover your likes and dislikes and your strengths and weaknesses. Your experiences build your character, develop your skills and talents, and give you clarity about your values and purpose. All of this leads to feelings of empowerment and inner harmony that cannot be described in words.
Below are a few tips to put your authenticity and uniqueness into action:
Work with feedback: Recognize what is working and what is not working in your life. This includes relationships, work, health, environment, beliefs, groups, etc. Feelings of discontent or dissatisfaction are a sign that something is not right for you. After exploring your options, take the risk necessary to make a shift in awareness or take some action.
Ask courageous questions: Ask yourself soulful questions that may shake up your foundations and create upheaval in your life. Listen for honest answers instead of telling yourself stories that are not true. Answers that lead to feelings of empowerment and inner harmony reflect authenticity.
Notice conflicts in your values: An underlying obstacle to authenticity is the need to belong versus the need to be unique. Roles dictated to you by others may no longer be the roles you choose to play because they do not honor your deepest values. The key question for me is this: “How much of myself do I have to give up in order to belong?” If choosing to belong does not compromise too many of my unique values or there is acceptance of my differences, I can belong with a sense of well-being.
Make choices that reflect congruence: When what you feel, think, say and do are in alignment, you are being congruent. This alignment requires that you know yourself. The payoff is worth it. You will make choices that do not have the seeds of destruction in them. Reinforce these choices with actions that reflect your core values, and you will create a future that is filled with more personal satisfaction, inner peace and moments of happiness.
Set limits that honor your uniqueness: Speak from your truth and your power in order to safeguard your needs, emotions, beliefs, values and accomplishments. Speaking truth does not mean criticizing others; it means you have the confidence to stand for yourself and negotiate to get what you want. When you speak from your truth, people usually hear you. If that does not happen consistently, it might be time to get your values and needs met elsewhere.
These strategies will enable you to “build your own shoes” and wear them to travel your unique life’s journey. It takes awareness and courage to live with authenticity. Confidence, well-being and life satisfaction result when who you are matches up with how you live your life. Live from your agenda and allow it to lead you into relationships that support and encourage you to be your magnificent self!
You can never walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,
but you can walk a mile in your own and be proud of it. – Zach Anner
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