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The Self-Discovery Digest

by Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh
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April 2009 Archives

The arrival of spring offers plentiful examples of growth and renewal. To take advantage of this energy, we need to focus not only on cultivating new ways of being and doing, but also on pruning away what may no longer be nourishing. Take a look at your habits and patterns and consider trimming those that have the potential to stunt your growth.

Releasing outdated ways of living can make you feel like you’re fighting through a thicket of dead wood. However, until you separate what is healthy from what is sapping your strength, you will find that your efforts produce only a meager harvest. Eliminating ideas, things, relationships, etc. that are no longer useful gives you the energy and room to focus on those things that are sustaining, joyful, and truly important.

Here are few ideas for taking stock of what to tend carefully and what to toss onto the compost pile:

• When spending time with a significant other (from work, family, etc) or doing a typical activity, does this fill you with joy?

• If someone asked you to recommend this person or activity, would you be able to do so?

• When you spend time and effort on this person or activity, do you feel energized?

• Are you eager for the next time you will see this person or engage in this activity?

• Is your commitment to this person or activity something you are looking to expand and deepen?

If you can’t truthfully answer yes to the above questions, you may want to limit the time you spend with that person or taking part in that activity. Begin to weed out relationships, tasks and commitments that are no longer constructive to make room for those things you want to see grow and expand. Further, consider what things you want to introduce into your “garden” for the first time. Give yourself permission to feel hopeful about these new developments. Make the extra daylight hours count by creating space in your life for fresh growth.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 9
Examine the people and activities that fill your life – which of these deserve a bit of extra attention and which might be best set aside? Choose one person or activity that you want to decrease your involvement. Choose one person or activity that you want to increase your involvement. Make a commitment to enact these changes and have your best spring yet!

Are you sometimes worried about where your life is headed – as though walking in unfamiliar territory without a map? At times do you feel confused about what is really important? We would love to be able to reassure you – and ourselves – that there is some profound, definitive answer or series of steps that can guarantee a sense of security and a life well lived. Unfortunately, life provides no sure bets and no ironclad directions. There is something within us, however, something we often overlook, that can be a compass for navigating our life journey. That compass is our values.

In order to tap into the power and guidance of this compass, you need to identify what matters most to you, what your personal values are, distinct from those that your culture suggests you should hold. This can be challenging for we are bombarded daily with messages exhorting us to place value on, and measure ourselves, in terms of things like:

• Money
• Material Success
• Good looks
• Flat Abs
• Knowing the “right people”
• Having a well-appointed home and a luxury car

But if you look within and listen to your heart of hearts, you can identify what you really care about. With this awareness you can use your personal values as a compass to orient your passage through life. Individual values are more likely to be things such as:

• Integrity
• Kindness
• Generosity
• Loyalty
• Resilience
• Curiosity

Some of us – maybe even you – might be lucky enough to have money, physical beauty, connections, etc. Yet every single one of us can have the good fortune of self-respect if we follow our compass. Don’t get lost in the dead-end pursuit of what doesn’t truly matter (and perhaps is not even attainable). Use these lists as a starting point to help you define for yourself what you sincerely value as well as what you do not. Get the direction, reinforcement, and assurance that only your personal compass can provide.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 8
Make a list of your values – what direction does your own compass point? Is your time and effort spent wisely in support of your values or are you too focused on values that come from others? How might your life improve if you followed your personal compass more often?