To be or not to be — it really is the question. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in his famous soliloquy from Act III, Scene I, we are all choosing between living and dying every day. We are too often choosing to endure sadness and suffering or pretending to be someone else.
We often stuff ourselves with positive statements that affirm who we are not and then wonder why changing our thoughts is not really changing our life. We’ve been told to “act as if” and hope it will happen. When we feel something is missing, we poke holes in our souls, and we try to fill these holes with food, prescription drugs or any beauty item marketed to make us feel more desired. This is not natural. We are created to be infinite, to be whole and to lack nothing. The truth is, if we pay attention to who we are and celebrate that, we don’t have to live inside a preconceived notion of happiness. We can move from the hole to the whole.
We can be ourselves — alive, alert and enthusiastic about life.
Step One: Teach Your Inner Child to Embrace Who You Are
About 10 years ago, I wrote a little book for children called The Right to Be You. I wrote it because I grew up being afraid to be me. That’s when I discovered alcohol. I could secretly be who I wanted without having to feel the consequences of my thinking. Too often we say, “Children are our future.” Instead, we need to realize that now is the time to teach our children that it doesn’t matter if they are black or white or gay or straight. Whoever they are is perfect. We need to teach them it is OK to be themselves. It’s OK to believe what you believe and be happy about it.
We need to teach ourselves, too. We neither get better or worse as we get older — but more like ourselves. We have tried being like so many other people, places and things only to arrive at a place that says: I gotta be me.
Look in the mirror, directly into your eyes and ask yourself who am I? What do I think is missing from my life? Listen to what comes up. Write it down. Then, ask yourself in what ways do you love, value and respect yourself? Notice how alive you feel. Hug yourself. Write it down.
Step Two: Pay Attention to What You Tell Yourself
If you have a regular meditation practice, you already understand how to sit in the seat of witness consciousness. You are probably watching your thoughts and learning to tune them out. In this exercise, I want you to tune into those conversations with yourself so you can begin to permanently delete negative messages. Anytime you hear a thought that doesn’t embrace who you really are and what you love, value and respect about yourself, Stop! on that thought. Highlight it in your mind and consciously delete it. Say to yourself and mean it: I no longer believe that. I am worthy.
Some thoughts and beliefs may come back up and if they do, repeat Step Two. Don’t tell yourself it’s not working or engage in a conversation with all that negative self talk. This is a process and a practice. The process is like baking a cake. Sometimes the mind like the kitchen gets messy. As you clean it up, it’s worth it because the cake turns out fine. Soon, it becomes a practice and you don’t even notice the mess in the kitchen. Cleaning is automatic. It’s important to practice. It’s how you become alert to yourself and present for your life.
Step Three: Affirm with Intention and Enthusiasm
Energy is the key to changing your thoughts and your life. Step One taught you who you really are and what makes you feel alive. Step Two released all the negative thought patterns, taught you to open your mind and live in the present moment. Now it’s time to open your heart and create positive affirmations that inspire you to live your best life.
This is an energetic change. You have to make the shift from thoughts that drain you to thoughts that inspire you. When you love and give your energy to something you are not depleted; you are blessed. Make a list of the things in life you enjoy doing the most. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “how can I create MORE of this?” Write it down. You will feel joy the moment you write the right one down. When you do, say it aloud to yourself and experience the joy of knowing who you are.
Once we know who we are, we understand the answer to Shakespeare’s question is, “To be.” We easily move from thinking and doing to feeling and being. We understand and accept ourselves and our beliefs. This is the key to inner peace. And this key unlocks the door to world peace.