Alignment is my guiding word for 2018.
Last year the word that came to me was ‘surrender’ and boy was it a biggie. Last year was my first year as a mama, and ‘surrender’ guided me in every way: it helped me to surrender to what was happening, especially the things I couldn’t control (hello, not sleeping!); it helped me to let things go as much as I could and it helped me to surrender to the present moment and just be.
It was such a fabulous word I’m going to keep it in mind this year too, and probably every year going forward. I want to keep practicing surrender from here on out.
But the word ‘alignment’ caught my attention as my main guiding word for this coming year. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m writing a class about it (although I didn’t consciously make that connection until after I’d chosen the word) but it feels like just what I need.
By alignment I mean bringing my thoughts, words and actions into alignment with my soul’s truth. That means doing things I say I’m going to do, behaving in ways that align with my values, speaking my truth and sharing who I really am, thinking thoughts that support me – among other things. And, of course, staying connected to my soul so I know how to align with what it needs.
And boy, this is already challenging me.
I’ve chosen ‘daring’ as my supporting being value (see my free Yearbook printable on what a being value is) because I think I’ll need to be daring to really speak my truth and bring the outside of my life into alignment with what I feel in my soul.
And I’ve chosen ‘flow’ as my having value to support this (more info on having values in the Yearbook). This word resonates because I know that when things are flowing, I’m in alignment. To me, flow means that things are happening with ease, rather than needing me to push and force them; they naturally flow. Flow also has meaning in positive psychology – that state where you get so absorbed in something you lose track of time. Being in this state is another sure sign that I’m in alignment.
But I’ve come up against an uncomfortable belief. I didn’t realise I had this belief, or even that it was problematic, because it is SO pervasive in our culture. The belief is: you have to work hard, struggle and sacrifice to get results, or put another way, nothing good ever comes without hard work/sacrifice.
You’re probably finding that your immediate response to that is, ‘well, yeah’. This belief is deeply ingrained in us from school.
It’s so ingrained, in fact, that we have come to value hard work in and of itself, as if hard work, even detached from the outcome, is some kind of badge of honour. We compete by talking about who works the longest hours, who sacrifices the most, sleeps the least, etc.
Now, I’m not saying that hard work can’t lead to good results, or that working hard is a bad thing. Some of the most rewarding outcomes are from hard work – think of chopping wood and enjoying a nice fire, or cleaning the house and enjoying the outcome of that.
What I am saying is that the belief we must struggle and work hard in order to get something worthwhile is not only not true, it’s harming a lot of us. Valuing hard work for its own sake is, quite frankly, absurd.
But what if we choose another way? What if we choose to follow what feels good? What if we choose to let the good feelings guide us, as an indication that we are on the right track?
This is what I am attempting to do this year as I bring my life into alignment.
Growth is a tricky area here, because most of the time growth doesn’t feel good – not when you are in the thick of it. It feels uncomfortable, scary and challenging most of the time.
But in exploring this idea I came to realise that even things that challenge us, that at first glance might not appear to feel good, actually do have an element of feeling good to them, because you feel good when you are challenged appropriately. You feel good when you grow positively. You feel good when you confront and release fears and beliefs that aren’t helpful.
In fact, in order to truly be in a flow state as described in positive psychology, you need to be challenged to a certain degree – which is what I mean when I say ‘challenged appropriately’.
When you are seeking growth and flow together, you know what kind of growth you need, you are willing to feel curious and open to the discomfort of growth and that, in itself, is a kind of flow.
This is a different feeling from pushing something that isn’t working, doing something that goes against our essential nature, forcing something or feeling stuck.
It’s similar to pain: there is good discomfort and bad discomfort. When I see a physio to help me with stiff muscles it hurts, but it helps. When I gave birth to my son it hurt but it was wonderful. When I broke my ankle it hurt and there was no deeper benefit to it. It was destructive.
Discerning between the different types of discomfort is helping me to challenge myself and continue to grow, while still seeking flow and alignment.
Have you chosen a guiding word for 2018? How is it challenging you?