Episode 4 | (00:00):
Hello. In today's episode, I'm going to tell you a story about an idea that just threw me for a loop in my 20s. My goodness, so much pain, so many tears over this one idea. Once I realized I could release it and change things, life got a lot better. So I'm going to tell you the story and explain this concept to you. And I'm going to leave you with a fun-sized action so you can try it for yourself in your own life. Okay, are you ready? No, seriously... Are you ready? Yeah, I know. Me too! Let's dive in.
Hey there, welcome back. Alright, before I get started today, I wanted to remind you to go pick up your free gift. Yes, it's a gift and it's free. You can pick it up at EasyAgingExpert.com, and I am leaving you a link in the show notes so don't forget to go pick that up.
Today, we are talking about the way that we think about things. Now, I don't know about you but when I was growing up, I was taught certain things. The big thing was that the right path to success is: you go to school and you get good grades in high school so you can go to a good college. And then I was supposed to get good grades in college so I could get a good job. And then, if I worked hard enough, I would get promoted at this good job and I would make really good money.
And then I could put that money away for retirement. And then I would retire at 65 and finally relax and enjoy my life. Now, I don't think that's anything new or different. I think we've been taught that for quite a while. Kids were probably taught that before we even came along, right?
All of that made sense in my head. But in my heart, it just didn't feel right. As a matter of fact, it felt exceptionally wrong. I knew I was supposed to follow a different path, but I didn't know what that path was. And it made me ridiculously unhappy.
I think that's why I became so restless in jobs fairly quickly throughout my 20s. I mean, I always seem to want the greener grass on the other side...until I got to the other side. Then I wanted some different grass. But even then, I knew that grass wasn't going to be green.
To me it felt like it was going to be purple or plaid or something. I never seemed to be happy with the status quo like my peers. They all seem to accept and settle into their career paths, and they all seem to be quite content with their lives. It made me feel so inadequate.
I felt like there was something wrong with me because I couldn't fit in, and I couldn't be at peace with the jobs I had. I kept feeling like I was being held back from something, but I didn't know what it was. I didn't even know how to get out of my situation. So for most of my 20s, I just kept beating my head against a dead horse.
Yeah. You see what I did there? Mixed metaphor, I know. They make me laugh, so you may hear some more later on. Just letting you know. ;)
So for most of my 20s, I kept trying to fit into the “correct” way of doing things. I wanted to do things the “right” way like everyone else.
Then in my early thirties, I felt a deep tug on my heart that I could not ignore. So because of that tug — or that calling, if you will — I did the most unconventional thing. I quit my job. I put my belongings in storage. I sold my car, and I joined a traveling drama ministry.
Yes, it was official. I became a hippie that went from town-to-town, telling people about Jesus.
While it may have sounded crazy, it was the most freeing thing I had ever done. This decision woke me up to one very important fact: things don't have to look a certain way in order to be right for me. Once I realized my path didn't have to look like everyone else’s...
...life improved dramatically. After all that time, all that frustration, all those tears, ugh. So. Many. Tears. After all of that, I finally felt free. I felt like I was becoming authentic, like I was stepping into my real self and discovering a part of me that, on some level, I knew that part of me existed but I didn't know how to access it before.
Up to that point, I spent most of my life thinking things had to look a certain way in order to be right or to be valuable or productive. Thinking things had to look a certain way created a mess of trouble inside me. I was experiencing self-doubt, low self-esteem, low self-worth.
And I was beating myself up on a regular basis just because I wanted something different than other people did. Thinking things have to look a certain way limits us.
It closes us off to possibilities and solutions. Sometimes those solutions and possibilities are right in front of you, and you don't even see them because you don't even know how to look for them.
So we have to get rid of this idea that it has to look a certain way. We have to get this out of our heads. Otherwise, we will never discover our full potential. We'll never discover who we were meant to be, who God intended us to be during midlife.
Midlife is a really important time in our lives. By this point, the kids are probably grown (and hopefully, out of the house...but maybe not). The bottom line is that you're not on diaper duty, and you don't have drop-offs and pickups from school anymore, or soccer practice or swim meets. Those are all behind you.
Now at this point, you've also mastered your job.
I mean, you don't really have to think too hard to find resolution to a problem because you have so much experience under your belt. You've more than likely seen it all, right? If you're retired, you have a lot of time on your hands. Now you get to do what you want to do. The big question is...what exactly is that?
It's important to get clarity on who you are, what you want and where you want to be. A big part of getting clarity in midlife is understanding that things don't have to look a certain way. It's time that we just kicked that idea to the curb. I mean, I talked about this a little bit in episode 3, and you're going to hear me talking about clarity a lot. That's because things get a little muddy once we're in midlife.
When you're younger, it's clear. If you have a baby and the baby cries, you asked the questions: “Oh my goodness, is she hungry? Is he wet? Is there a poopy diaper to change?” I mean, this is all very clear. Your job at this point in your life is to keep this little human alive. Your role is clear then but unfortunately, as we get older, our roles in midlife may not be.
You have to start opening yourself up in order to get full clarity of what you already know. And we need to start trusting our own intuition. We have an inner wisdom that is always on target, and it's always right.
But because of our conditioning, we just don't trust ourselves anymore. We've lost track of that inner voice that guides us. If you don't get midlife clarity, you may be running after things that don't even matter to you anymore.
When we were younger, most of us wanted to focus on the material things in life — the wealth, the success, the power, the fame. Now, more than likely, your life is a lot simpler. What do you want? Probably things like a peaceful life. We want not just good, but thriving relationships. We want new experiences, and I can guarantee all of us want great health, don't we? Especially during a time of COVID.
Let me ask you a question: What happens when you give a child crayons and construction paper? I mean, not just any crayons, I'm talking the 64-pack with the sharpener. Do you remember those from when we were growing up?
Oh my goodness, you hand those to a child and they squeal, they grab them out of your hands, and they throw their bodies in the ground and start coloring. And what are they coloring? They’re coloring whatever is in their hearts, whatever is living in their imagination.
And when they're done, they give it to you, and they are beaming because they are so proud of their masterpiece. They're thinking, “Look, what I made for you. Lucky you!”
Do they apologize because it's not good enough? Do they say, “I'm so sorry. It's just not my best work.” Do they have any fear? Are they afraid to color? Do they stop and ask you, “What are you looking for? Something abstract or representational? Portrait, or were you thinking maybe a landscape orientation?”
No! They don't ask any of those questions. They just start drawing. Why? Because they're listening to their hearts, and they're following their little hearts on what's going to happen next, right? No questions, no doubting, no discussion. They just do it.
Here is a news flash, my friend: you used to be that little child. You used to squeal with delight and start coloring.
You used to follow your heart without hesitation, without fear. That's because you were coming from a place of authenticity, from your true self that God created. He created all of us this way but along the way, we started growing up and taking on responsibility and trying to fit in with our friends and our colleagues at work.
So instead of listening to our hearts, we started listening to voices outside of ourselves, and we started believing that those voices were always right. Even when the little voice inside of us told us it was wrong.
It's like the story I told you earlier. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't put a finger on it. I always felt like a pretender, an imposter who was going to be caught at any moment. All this stress and anxiety came from one thought and that thought was: things had to look a certain way in order to be acceptable to other people.
Okay, so now that you understand that things don't have to look a certain way, it's time to start getting out of that rut. It's time to start opening ourselves up to new ideas and possibilities. And to do this, we need to start listening to our hearts.
Now I'm going to give you a fun-sized action, and it is very simple. It's probably so simple that you're going to be thinking, “Really, Michelle, seriously… that’s going to work?” I’m here to tell you, yes, it works and I use it on a daily basis.
It's just one question, and you ask yourself this question when you're faced with a decision. The goal is to just ask the question and go with your first reaction. Do not overthink. Don't analyze. Don't get in your head. Just ask the question. Here's the question.
Does this feel heavy, or does this feel light?
When my mentor Kyle Cease gave this to me, I thought it was brilliant in its simplicity. I mean, it's pretty straightforward. If it feels light, that's a yes. If it feels heavy, that's a no.
Let me give you an example. Let's say it's a long week at work, and it has just been crazy busy. Now it's Friday afternoon and you're tired. I mean, you're dreaming of going home and being a couch potato. You're already planning what junk food you're going to be eating when you’re totally binging Netflix or Hulu or something, right? You’re sitting there in your head going, “salty, sweet, salty, sweet. What do I want? Hmm…” And by this point, I can already picture my hand going into the chip bag. I can see it as I'm sitting on my couch. Don't tell me you've never done this before. I know you have. ;)
You're so exhausted. Everything hurts. Your eyes hurt. Your brain hurts. The ends of your hair hurt. You're just ready for a quiet, relaxing evening.
Then you get a text, and it's from one of your dearest friends. It's someone who you really enjoy chatting with. You guys have great conversations, you have a lot in common. You just enjoy each other a lot when you're together. And it's someone who lifts you up and refreshes you.
The text says, “I know you were busy on your project this week. I hope it went well. I would love to catch up. Are you free for dinner?” Now you have to decide.
So all you're going to do is take a deep breath — in through your nose, out through your mouth. You roll your shoulders a couple of times to shake off some of the stress, the tension.
Let's say your friend's name is George, so you ask: “Dinner with George. Does that feel heavy, or does that feel light?" And you're going to have your answer.
Now, you analysts, out there… You people that like all the data and the details; you always need more information. I can see you asking yourself the question and then overcomplicating this by saying, “Oh, that's too simple. That can't work.” And then you pull out your sheet of paper. You've got the line down the middle of it, and you're starting with your pro and con list. Do not do this.
This is about listening to your heart. Remember, we do not want to think about the things going on in your head anymore. We want to start paying attention to your heart. You're going to start with simple decisions on a daily basis. They’re so simple that you're going to start creating this new habit.
Because when you start creating a habit of using the Heavy/Light question on a regular basis and that big decision shows up, you will be ready for it, my friend. And that's what this is all about: Listening to your heart so you can get more clarity, and you can really start understanding what makes you tick just a little bit more.
That's it for now. That's your fun-sized action. Don't forget to grab your free gift at EasyAgingExpert.com. Thanks for spending some time with me. And until next time have a refreshing and peaceful day.