Exploring ways to align with authenticity, integrity and congruence
Some time ago, I would have described things differently! I would have said that Life was full of ups and downs, and probably many more ‘downs’ than ‘ups’; that it was a struggle and often difficult and uncomfortable.
But I’ve changed ?
My journey has slowly taught me – or at least my learning and beliefs have taken time to shift – that Life just ‘is’, and it’s my response to it that determines my experience. Therefore, I can actually choose whether my life will be one of ‘struggle’, or one of valuable learning experiences.
In my ‘other job’, I’ve recently been involved in an ‘ACTivate’ course, here in South Wales. I’d never heard of this before, but basically it is a 4-week course to support people through learning mindfulness techniques and helping them to develop the skills of Acceptance and Commitment to new practice (the ACT of ACTivate stands for Acceptance Commitment Therapy).
I’ve attended 2 sessions so far, and we’ve been looking at the concept of ‘You are not your mind’ – ie that the mind is only one part of who we are. It talks to us constantly and it’s impossible to switch it off, however we don’t always have to listen to it. It has a tendency towards negativity, often being critical and cautious, or even fearful. But by practicing mindfulness and conscious awareness of our thoughts and responses, we can choose when to listen to our mind, and when to make a different choice on how to act.
I’ve also learnt the truth of the saying that:
Both physical and emotional pain are part of Life. They can be helpful because they give us information and can help us to avoid further injury, and to learn and grow.
Suffering, however, comes from our response to the pain. When we fight the pain, trying to resist it, it often actually makes the pain worse, and can add new pain to the original hurt. If, instead, we can accept that the pain is there, and explore it with curiosity to see what it can teach us, then the suffering is greatly lessened. We can, in fact, end up being grateful for the pain and the growth that it brings.
Learning and change can be challenging though. We can find it difficult to change our beliefs and habits, sometimes not even seeing a need for the change.
A recent example of this for me has been highlighted by our move to this new rural location. It has challenged me in many ways to be more reflective on my choices and to be more conscious of how I ‘walk my talk’, particularly in regards to my relationship with Nature, as this is so much a part of what I do.
I’m exploring ways to be authentic to Who I Really Am, and to live in congruence and alignment with my beliefs. This is obviously a very individual thing, but the more we can do this, the more we are in balance and can feel comfortable in our own skin, knowing that we are being true to ourselves.
For years I have gradually been trying to be more ‘eco-friendly’ and I thought I was doing pretty well. Isn’t it interesting how these things happen? It’s a process really. You make some changes and think that you’re doing the best you can do, but then as those changes settle in and become your new ‘norm’, you become aware of further adjustments and begin to explore these and eventually take them on as well.
One example is my use of plastic. I’ve been using my own bags and travel bottle / mug for years but I’m becoming more conscious of other things, such as my toothbrush, plastic vegetable bags at the supermarket, plastic bottles and jars for toiletries, cling film, etc. As a result, I’ve done some searching and made some new purchases. The following are some of my recent acquisitions:
There are lots of great websites available now for eco-friendly products. One of the best for avoiding any plastic that I’ve found is: https://www.plasticfreedom.co.uk/ . And if, like me, you’re looking for animal-friendly options, they have a dedicated Vegan section.
Another good site is https://www.nirvananatural.co.uk/ though their range is quite small.
And there’s https://www.peacewiththewild.co.uk/
So Life, to me, is a journey of change, learning and growth. It’s about exploring our thoughts, emotions and experiences and seeing which ones resonate and support who we want to be – who we really are – and which ones take us further away from this. We can then choose which ones we want to have more of, and give our energy and attention to these, and which we no longer want to engage with, allowing them to fade out of our lives.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you have an experience that you’d like to share, please post in the comments below.