In the past several posts I’ve been writing and commenting on the top five regrets of the dying as reported by Bronnie Ware. To refresh your memory here are these regrets:
5. I wish I’d let myself be happier.
4. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Review these and evaluate where you are today. Are you experiencing regrets? Hopefully you have time to evaluate and make corrections.
I am sitting in a conference room as I write this post, and reflecting on my life. Am I living a life that is true to myself, or am I allowing other’s expectations to drive me? The conference is on “Motivational Interviewing” and the topic fits with the post. I am living closer to my authentic self than I ever have and the experience is mixed.
In the old days of living a life driven by desire to please others the rules were clearer than they are living a life of authenticity. However, the difference between the two is massive in terms of satisfaction and freedom. I am free every day to evaluate and decide for myself what the most important task is for this day.
At the same time there are no others that can set the boundaries or rewards. Freedom allows for boundary-less living, but being free requires change.
Change is often difficult. We want to have a life that is lived without regrets, but there always seems to be something that keeps us chained to the “old” life. Often these chains develop in childhood. Co-dependency is common in children. We are trained to please our care-givers and punished if we do not. Quickly most children learn to obey, be compliant and learn to put one’s own desires on hold in favor of pleasing others.
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. It is a value to work cooperatively with others, to be a team player and be productive. The challenge is to not lose oneself in the process. Living life without regret requires us to allow our selves to be happer, to remain in touch with friends and families, and to honestly express one’s feelings. A life true to self is balanced with ample time for work and relaxation, and most of all, a life without regret will be authentic, true to one’s self and as free as possible from being over influenced by the demands of others.
The question you may have now is “how.” How does one live an authentic life?
I’ll be posting about this in upcoming articles. Stay tuned.
Writing exercise of the day: Write abut a time in your life when you felt compelled to please others. What did this look like? How did it feel? Were you able to break free of this desire to please others? How were you able to break free and be authentic?