Why It Sometimes Feels Like We Didn’t Choose Our Life
How to Achieve Inner Peace by Waking Up to Your Unchosen Roles
If I had to choose - I’d call this the Power Leak of Settling or People Pleasing – it’s when we unconsciously fall into roles based on other people’s needs instead of our own desires or calling.
Recognizing where we settle isn’t always easy – because it often does not register as Settling – it may be disguised under the feeling of “it’s always been this way” or “I don’t have a choice here”.
By the end of this post – you’re going to have some really good tools to see where you’re settling. For some of you - this will be difficult to hear and for others it will be a bit mind bending. If all it does is unsettle you – well, then my work is done.
The beauty of getting a little ruffled up is that’s when the self-transformation happens.
The truth is many of us make choices by NOT making choices. We just quietly and unconsciously acquiesced to the wishes of others. For some it was simply our birth order and for others it came out of necessity to cope with what was in front of us.
As I worked through my own stuff – it helped to separate all of my roles into garments or capes I put on each morning. This image was helpful in allowing me to choose whether or not I wanted to put a specific garment or role on, based on how it fit, how it made me feel, and of course whether or not it made my butt look fabulous.
Here’s what I mean – you know how the youngest child often wears the Rebel or the Irresponsible One; the middle child may put on the role of Caregiver or Mediator; and the oldest perhaps dresses as The Responsible One or The Example?
Fathers sometimes wear Disciplinarian or Provider, and Mothers may wear The Nurturer or Head Cook – or the exact opposite depending on how you were raised.
Perhaps you’re the creative one who wears Always Following Flights of Fancy or Your Feet Are Never on the Ground. Or you’re the Linear One who chooses between Always Knows Where You’re Going or Always Has a Plan or Doesn’t Want to Step Off the Path because people are counting on you.
Perhaps you’re the Successful One that Always Takes Care of Everyone Else or is perceived to be Full of Themselves or Forgetful of Your Roots? Maybe you’re the mother who must Sacrifice Herself for the Betterment of Her Kids. The Hero who goes to a job you hate because it’s the responsible thing to do. Or the Faithful One who stays in a relationship long after it serves either of you in any positive way.
Or hey, maybe you’re from a long line of People Who Didn’t Make Much of Themselves so why should you be any different? Maybe you’re the Sensitive One and everyone needs to walk on eggshells around you. How about the Sick One that everyone talks about – too bad about Sue, she just can’t catch a break. Are you the Poor One and no matter how hard you try you Always End Up in the Same Financial Mess — one step forward – two steps back?
Or you’re the Shy One or the Insecure One that wears I’ll Just Sit Here and Try Not to Be Noticed. Are you the Pretty One and no one knows you’re brilliant? Or the One Who Dates Everyone Who Gives You the Time of Day – but always ends up alone? Or the One Who Holds Herself Back and Doesn’t Let Anyone In?
Maybe you’re the One Who Starts Everything and Never Finishes Anything. Or the One Who Volunteers for Everything, you are part of the valiant twenty percent who does eighty percent of it all, (and talk about it all the time).
Or are you the Rescuer and all you want to wear is the Taking Care of Myself for Once, but you dutifully put on How Can I Serve You Best, every morning?
Are you the Quiet One Who Always Bites Your Tongue? The Bullied One Who Everyone is Keeping Down, the Drama Queen who walks around in the Notice Me Notice Me Notice Me? What about the Lazy One or the Stupid One or the Reckless One or the Alcoholic One or the Abusive One or the Emotional One or the Overeater One or the Impulsive One?
What came first? Other people’s opinions of you or your opinion of you? Well, there’s no way to separate the two really. However, when you become aware of the role(s) you are wearing, you have an enormous amount of power to decide where you go from here.
Often, we get so caught up in what other people think, we wear a role for them. Inside, there is a resentment that people don’t see us as Something More or there’s a quiet acquiescence, a surrendering that This Is All I Get — this is My Duty and Obligation.
Well, the truth of the matter is nothing is set in stone and if the role you’ve been wearing no longer fits – then take it off and find something more appropriate to put on.
Maya Angelou is attributed to saying, “people treat you the way you teach them, to treat you”. Now, that may be a bitter pill to swallow when you’re wearing your I am Not in a Position of Choice outfit, but that too, is just role.
What about being the One with Choices? What about being the one who says, This Is Not What I Want – I Want Something More?
So how do we begin? Well, how about with a question like, why am I buying into this? Or what do I really want?
What we all desire is a sense of who we are — something that resonates deeply within us. From that place of awareness, we can enter into all situations from the knowledge of This is Who I Am NOW, instead of the role we’ve grown accustomed to wearing.
Are you with me? Is this helping you see the roles you’re wearing, even though you don’t remember choosing them? We all do it! These roles may be in every area of our life or just in a couple of places. I’ve seen power houses in business situations turn into unrecognizable indecisive pushovers when amongst their families. It just depends on what we’ve chosen to work through.
Look - here’s some examples from my own experience – maybe this will help you see even more clearly. I was the youngest of four – but we were born far apart. My first sister is 6 years older than me – the next sister was 12 years older than me and then my brother was 2 years above her.
I was 30 years old before I realized that I felt like I was still a child whenever I was around my family. I didn’t see myself as a grownup and neither did they. I had a career and owned my own home – but stepped into the role of the youngest child – whenever I stepped over my parent’s threshold. No one expected me to contribute – and I didn’t. We all played into it. My brother being the oldest got caught in “doing the right thing” so he made decisions – not to make himself happy or satisfied but to do what was expected – and it didn’t end well.
There’s only my sister and I now – but we’ve made a concerted effort to allow each other to be grown-assed woman, on equal footing and it’s working. But it didn’t happen by accident. We both made a choice to reinvent our relationship.
It’s not just familial roles either – some people have low self worth and carry that energy wherever they go, and it effects how people see them, what kinds of jobs they get offered and what kind of relationships they have. When that self-esteem gets bolstered and a perspective changes – all of those areas can be transformed – but it takes a decision from the individual to let go of old roles and embrace others.
There are lots of roles our society, culture or family tell us we should conform to – like getting married, having to change our names, my gawd – there are still women walking down the aisle being handed off from father to husband like chattel – and nobody thinks about the origin or context of this arcane idea – it was to mark the passing of property from one man to the next. There are still little girls dreaming of this right of passage that is steeped in the tradition of them giving themselves away.
And then Parenthood is the next logical step and duty isn’t it. It’s what we SHOULD want – and if we don’t want it well – that’s just wrong. I have friends who got married at 18 and decided they didn’t want to have kids - right from the get-go. She said if she had told her parents she had murdered someone it would have gone over better – and she wasn’t joking.
Most of us were conditioned to believe that having kids isn’t really an option – it is just the normal course of events – it’s primal – or is it? Thankfully, my friends knew who they were and what they wanted and 30 years later they’ve never regretted the decision. I have not experienced them as selfish or miserable or lonely. They are amazing together and have had a full and rich life.
I’ve had friends choose careers based on parents’ expectations or persuasions – but no personal desire. Nothing like having a doctor or an accountant that would rather be a ski instructor or ballerina.
Then there are roles like – the oldest daughter being the one to take care of aging parents, or in my aunts case the daughter that didn’t get married needed to fill the role – obviously because she had nothing better going on with her life – wow, really?
I’m sure you can see for yourself and others in your life – how everyone has taken on an seemingly unchosen roles of some kind. Some of those roles – once accepted are not easily undone.
But what do you do if you want to take a different route and a different kind of role? First, take the time to uncover where you are not playing to your highest intention. Second, commit to redesigning yourself over time – or in one big, beautiful leap – if that feels more aligned with your truth.
Are YOU telling yourself who you are, or are you letting others tell you who they need you to be? When you’re feeling trapped by circumstances and expectations, it can feel daunting to upset the proverbial apple cart. What will people think? What will people do? How will other people cope?
Okay – take a deep breath and say, the most important thing for me, in this moment, is what I think of me.
Do you mind if I repeat that, the most important thing for me, in this moment, is what I think of me! You would not have any problem saying that to a kid who’s buying into peer pressure or a friend that is overwhelmed under the weight of expectations. Maybe it’s time to say the same thing to yourself?
“People believe you when you tell them who you are”. So, who will you be?
For starters, you are Connected to a Divine Intuition and You’re Now Aware of It, which cannot be said for most of the world's population. That alone says you are Remarkable and Insightful. You’re drawn to information that will help you discover what you’re capable of, which says you are already Tuning Yourself to a Greater Understanding of Why You’re Here.
So, you have a choice to make. Do you continue playing the same, tired, unhappy role or do you CHOOSE to Be Who You Are? Look, when we speak our own truth, it inspires others to do the same. Who knows what chain of events will be set in motion when you begin to fully understand what Marianne Williamson so perfectly articulated, in what is now a famous quote?
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God [Divine Intuition]. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God [Divine Intuition] that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Holy cow! The first time I read that, I cried. Truth is I probably cried the first ten times I read that. It’s rather moving don’t you think? Can you feel the promise contained in those words? Do you want to be liberated from what is holding you back? It’s time to take off the ill-fitting role you’ve been wearing and put on Something That Feels More Like You.
Are you aware of the Roles you wear? If you’re like most people, it’s probably several roles. Do you know why you’re wearing them? Which are the ones you truly love, and which are the ones that used to fit but no longer do? Are there roles you allow yourself to wear for certain people? Are there roles you know you want to stop wearing? Are there other roles you would like to try on?
Do you ever deliberately turn down how brilliant and beautiful and talented you are? If so, where and when specifically, do you do this? Are there places where you really let yourself shine? I hope so! When exactly do you do this? And how good does that feel?
Remember Blog #4 where I talked about how the odds you, YOU specifically being born, were simply astronomical? With no amount of hyperbole – it took a freaking miracle for the specific egg and the specific sperm that made YOU, to come together. Its as close to impossible as you can imagine. And yet – here you are.
So out of this miracle – are you living the life you want? Are you living the life you came to live? Only you can answer – but I’ve got a really simple test to show if you are – or if you’re not. And you can do it in private and no one needs to see. Are you up for it?
Find a mirror. When you are confident that no one can see or hear you, look right into your eyes and say you are beautiful. You are perfect just as you are. I love you! As you’re saying those words, watch the expression on your face. Is it difficult seeing yourself say those words? Observe how you’re feeling. Do you believe it? Are you uncomfortable or self-conscious?
When you are standing in your power and purpose you will feel so in love with yourself – that you may just catch yourself winking at your reflection each time you see it. You see, you can’t lie to yourself – especially when you look directly in your eyes. If it’s uncomfortable then let’s work through this stuff. Let’s getting you standing in your power. Let’s get you choosing the roles you want to wear.
I have yet to meet anyone who could do this exercise the very first time without feeling a little bit odd. Maybe you’re the exception! It brings up tons of stuff for most people. But just because you’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean the statements aren’t true. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE PERFECT. YOU ARE WORTH LOVING! When you know these things are true of you - you can let go of the roles and expectations that no longer serve you. Some roles may take a little longer to move through – but you can move through them.
So just in case you didn’t fully get that – your job on this journey is to let go of the roles and responsibilities that you did not choose and do not want. If this is scary and daunting – there’s more help coming – so don’t feel distressed – for now – just inventory your roles and decide – what do you want to keep, what would you keep if you could modify it in some way – and what would that look like. Which ones do you need to kick to the curb – never to be talked about again.
Okay then, starting today – will you commit to doing the mirror routine? Try it until it’s easy – trust me it’s worth it; YOU ARE beautiful. YOU ARE perfect. YOU DO love yourself (or you wouldn’t still be reading this).
These types of exercises open new neural pathways. You’re doing big work here! The sooner you recognize and believe in your own brilliance the closer you get to being who you came here to be.
You matter. You matter as much as anyone or anything else. This has nothing to do with your cultural background, your position in society, where you live, or what you do. It has nothing to do with your family values or your religious views. You are Divine. We are all Divine. You matter a great deal, and it is time to allow yourself to act accordingly. Remember, you’ve come here for a reason. You came with intention. Where would you like to go with that knowledge?
I recommend that you do the Mirror exercise at least two times a day until it becomes comfortable. You want to get to a place where you can’t help but wink at yourself whenever you see your reflection. Then, you’ll KNOW you’re fabulous and remarkable and deeply loved.
You are Divine. You are magical, mystical and a part of all that is! You have within you all the answers to all the questions you could ever ask. You can set yourself on a course that will lead to anything and everything you’ve ever wanted for yourself. And it will begin as soon as you understand the stuff of which you are made. No more ill-fitting roles, no more settling, no more drifting.
Well – there was a lot here to grasp in this one – no harm in reading it again.
Oh my! Women! I am excited to see where all of this takes us. I’m up for the ride – how about you?
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By Layne Smith-Brown