What are you loyal to?
Last month I asked you, to tell me if you were free. I explained in the October blog that there are many shades of freedom and that one of these shades is a psychological experience of ‘not being able to […],’ whatever that may be for you. If you lack this kind of freedom, you engage in a conversation with the limiting stories inside your head that will, slowly, kill any and all of your dreams. To me, seeking this kind of freedom is at the heart of our live’s purpose.
Today, I am asking you another tough and equally important question: are you loyal, and what are you loyal to? And, again you may jump in and say that yes, that you are (for the most part) loyal, because:
- you keep your promises,
- you keep other people’s secret at all times,
- you are there for your friends and family whenever they need you,
- no matter how long you may go without speaking to someone, they can always count on you, or
- you have never cheated, or lied or betrayed in your adult life
However, even if all of the above were true: are you loyal to yourself? How does that level of loyalty plays out when you make it about you, not others? How does it sound to name yourself disloyal when it is about you not following through with your own commitments?
No one wants to be told they are disloyal, but you are in fact disloyal whenever you:
- put other people’s dreams and wishes ahead of yours,
- whenever you say yes to anything that compromises your deep values,
- whenever you say no to an opportunity because you listen to your inner critic more than you listen to your heart, or
- when you let your to-do list be more important than your love projects list
And, you may not even have a ‘love projects’ list because you don’t even know what to put on the list. In this case, you are disloyal to your soul’s longings, suppressing the beautiful ideas, inspirations and dreams that would make this lifetime become truly special. Your disloyalty to yourself will ensure that the best gifts hidden in you will never surface, and that, no matter how much success you acquire, there will always be a feeling of ‘not enough.’
“In the absence of clearly defined goals we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until we ultimately become enslaved by it.” Robert Heinlein
Maybe, your loyalty is to everything but yourself. And, there is nothing novel about this. Even Mother Theresa and others who have dedicated their lives to helping humanity, they did so because, without a question, that was their life’s purpose. For them, to not be of service in full, would have been disloyalty. When we do anything for others, and not out of a longing to fulfill our purpose, we eventually become resentful. At times, when it seems impossible to create a life that only obeys your soul’s purpose, you can reframe your tasks and put it in the right perspective so, even then, you gain your loyalty back.
When I have to stop writing because it is time to make dinner and go pick up my daughter in school, I look at these tasks as the beginning of a new chapter. I make sure I make the transition, mentally, to close one set of tasks to start the next ones. When I do that, I am present to, and engaged with what is front of me, rather than with what I think I should be doing. I reframe, and remind myself that this too, I am choosing – I choose to be in connection with my daughter and to be in service of her well-being, because this is what I want.
To stay loyal, we need to create daily reminders of what is truly important to us. I have found that a practice that includes inquiry, reflection and gratitude, is the exact framework I need to keep tracking along, in the right direction. This practice is fairly simple, and it looks like this:
- Start the day spending some time in quiet meditation (even 5 minutes is fine). Read something that inspires you. Whether it is the bible, the Koran, the Sutras, or daily quotes you can get on any app in your phone, read anything BUT the news. The best news you can start with, is acknowledging you are here, in this spinning Universe, and that you have a consciousness. Any other news can wait.
- From this state of inspired learning you can then make a commitment – not to others, but to yourself. How you make this commitment is critical. Writing a to-do list will create a sense of labor. I think writing a to-be list is a much more effective tool. Being a certain way will help you do and behave in a certain way. So, if you want to produce a certain thing, ask yourself what do you need to be to accomplish that? Examples may be: today I am focused, so that my time is spent wisely and productively toward my goals. Or, today I am calm, so that my interactions with colleagues is generative, etc. I simply state my to-be, and write them down, without explaining why I am choosing to-be that. I know at the end of the day, whether I was being that by the results I created, that day. And, I can always try again tomorrow.
- At the end of the day you do exactly that: you check if you were being what you said you were being, by evaluating the results you created that day. Reflection is key. Make a mental note of where you need a greater reminder of this to-be, so that it is realized, not conceptually, but factually,
- End the day with a gratitude practice.. When I stop being grateful, and actually writing down on paper what I am grateful for, the quality of my sleep and days aren’t the same. End the day by focusing on what’s good in your life. Trust me, even with cancer, betrayal and abuse I have always been able to find many things for which I am grateful, and so can you – no matter that crap you are dealing with in life!
During the day, I have also found that asking certain questions help prompt me to laser focus my attention in the direction of solution based answers. One of the sure ways I become ‘strangely loyal to performing daily trivia,’ is by not giving myself a specific command. Small to-do lists work great, because I can hold myself accountable to daily baby steps. When these steps are born from a intentional focus, I am more motivated to keep going. I talk about the power of asking great questions a lot, because I believe that the quality of the answers (and results) you create, are always proportional to the quality of the questions we ask of life.
To an inspired, loyal and completely focused life.
From my heart to yours…namaste.