Andrea (not her real name) came to see me because she was having a conflict regarding career choices. Her family had supported her through law school, but she had always dreamed of becoming a professional musician; she had started guitar lessons a few years back and was now enjoying being able to play with her friends.
She didn’t want to disappoint her family in the past, and knew that they had her best interest in mind because becoming a lawyer would provide her with financial security, which was also very important to her, while monetary independence didn’t seem all that clear if she chose music as a career. Being a lawyer was both interesting and intellectually challenging, but she had the constant feeling that she had made a wrong choice because she wasn’t following a dream.
I saw right away that Andrea was a very practical young woman and that her life path was that of a visionary who needed a clear outlet for emotional expression; also, that she was here to work toward the fulfillment of a higher purpose through integrity and service to others. So our work was focused on integrating all aspects of herself and her life, so she could find a happy medium and utilize it as a springboard for any future choices and endeavors.
In other words, her life path was about resolving internal contradictions, and she was precisely where she needed to be, to begin that process in her journey. During our conversations she began to see that what she was dealing with was not an “either/or” type of situation, because being a lawyer satisfied her practical, logical, and intellectual aspects while playing music was now beginning to fulfill her creative side and most importantly, allowing her emotional expression.
The Split Between Head and Heart
In reality, Andrea’s internal conflict was not about switching careers, but about allowing that emotional expression to come forth. There was a split between “thinking” (her intellectual side) and “feeling” (her creative side), and she had felt throughout her life that she had to choose one or the other, without ever being allowed to embrace both, especially not at the same time.
One one hand, being a lawyer kept her somewhat unfulfilled emotionally and on the other, being a musician made her feel guilty because she was enjoying it “too much.” She had been raised in a family where emotions were not expressed and everything was supposed to get “resolved” through logic and reasoning. Now that she was getting in touch with her emotional side through music, she felt a bit lost and her deep need for emotional expression was in conflict with her upbringing.
Once she understood that it was all part of who she was and that she was free to choose who and how she wanted to be and live, she started shedding the emotional barriers that prevented her from being fully present and enjoying what she was doing—no matter what that was. She also realized that being in touch with her emotional side would make her a more compassionate and creative lawyer.
She came to the conclusion that she would do a specialization in business law to help out musicians and artists with legal matters in the future, and she would continue playing and enjoying music to see where that would lead her, without any expectation, just for the fun of it. This allowed her to integrate all of who she was and embrace a stronger (more complete) sense of self.
Joy Flows Where There Are No Contradictions
We all tend to view things as black or white, and feel that if we make a decision, that is it; that it will be set in stone forever. Of course, some of our big decisions in life may have serious consequences, but life itself is a flow that is never truly set and never really ends. Even if we drop the physical body, we later come back with a new one to continue our soul journey.
Yet the mind gets so identified with the environment that it makes us believe that it is “this or nothing”; “now or never”; and it traps us in little mental boxes that feel too tight and constricting for us to have a wider field of experience and feel good about them. Ever since we are kids, we are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and are made to feel that we have only one choice that we have to stick with for the rest of our life. So we better choose wisely!
The ego-mind keeps that cultural belief as a reference and tries to convince us that making a choice—any choice—is a very serious and definite matter. At the same time, the authority figures around us can make us feel inadequate (to maintain their authority), so we end up getting split at the core of who we are: between who we are and who we think we should be.
I often use this analogy with my clients: Imagine that I’d say to you, “You have to be in this room while I go outside for a little bit, and at the same time I expect you to be outside with me.” You, of course, would complain that it is not possible, to which I’d reply: “That is not my problem; you figure out what you need to do to be in the room and outside at the same time.” Talk about splitting someone’s mind!
There Are No Wrong Choices, Only Different Experiences
When there is a split, there is also the sense that you are always making a wrong choice, so whether you feel good or bad about anything, you believe that you’re wrong. This can be about loyalty (should I be on mom’s or dad’s side?); career (should I do what pays or what I love?); relationships (should I stay in a dead marriage for the kids’ sake?); or any other choice that life challenges you with.
The problem is that life truly is a series of choices. You have to choose each second of every day what you are going to think, feel, do, and how you are going to respond to the environment and the reality you are continuously creating. Yet your choices do not necessarily have to be made with just one aspect of yourself at the expense and exclusion of all the others. You can make choices with both heart and mind, with both reason and intuition, with both determination and compassion.
As a matter of fact, leaving little pieces of yourself out of each decision or choice weakens your choice and leaves you dissatisfied on some level. Integration and integrity are essential to have a strong sense of self and be at peace with yourself and the world. If you leave “orphaned” aspects out, they’re going to unconsciously haunt and pull you until you acknowledge, welcome, and integrate them in your experience. Once you accomplish that, you’ll feel empowered.
There is no “either/or” and there is no “right or wrong” on this soul-driven journey; there is only contrasting experiences and the result of those experiences: moments you have enjoyed and lessons you have learned through the things and people you get attached to or feel aversion toward. Nothing is set in stone because you create your reality as you move along, and since life is constant motion, you are always urged to redefine (and confirm) where you are headed, lest you lose direction and momentum.
Navigating a more joyful journey requires the awareness of who you are as a whole individual, through self-exploration, and the clarity as to whether to shift direction or continue on the same path as you move along. In the end, it is all about expanding awareness and making clear, conscious choices. Are you clear about your “orphaned” aspects and working toward self-integration? If not, contact me today to start a process of deep self-exploration and gain clarity of purpose with a stronger sense of self. Now is the time to create a solid foundation for the rest of your life!
© 2012 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.