“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
In a book I have read recently I stumbled across something I believe is very powerful.
The book in question is called The Chimp Paradox and is all to do with understanding how your mind works and learning to manage it better.
I’m planning to do a more in-depth article on some of the areas covered in this book soon.
Today we’re just going to look at one small part mentioned in the book which requires you to answer a simple question, although your answer will take a little consideration.
Before I ask you the question you will need to grab a piece of paper and a pen. Just answering this question in your head will not have the same effect.
You must write it down as you only get to answer this question once. Afterwards when you know why you have been asked it, you will never be able to give as true an answer again.
So what’s the question?
The question is this:
You are 100 years old, lying on your death bed with only moments left to live. In walks your great grandchild who walks over to you and says……
Before you die, I need your guidance, please tell me what I should do with my life?
So this is what I would ask you to write down now, if this question was asked of you by someone young who you care about very much, how would you advise them.
Take the next 60 seconds only to write down your answer, perhaps 3-6 points on what you would tell them is important in life.
DO NOT READ ON FURTHER UNTIL YOU HAVE DONE THIS
Got your answer?
What you have just done in answering this question is identify what is important to you in your life.
As the author Prof Steve Peters calls it in the book, this is your ‘Life Force’. It’s your truth, what you feel deep down inside is important to you, and although you wrote it as advice to your grandchild, it is actually advice to yourself.
Now here’s the important part.
If you are not living by this advice you are living a lie.
Never live a lie.
It is the one thing that will unsettle you more than anything else. It plays a vital role in the way you feel and in contributing to your anxiety.
Anxiety is often seen as worrying about situations or events you have to face, but one of the largest contributors to feeling anxious is knowing you are not being the person you want to be.
It may not be something you consciously think about, but your subconscious knows it. This can have a large and widespread affect on your self esteem and feelings of self worth.
By not living by your own life force you are not being true to yourself, you are not being who you feel you should be.
If this is you, then there’s little wonder why you are likely to feel anxious and stressed. It is often referred to as a crisis of identity, when you are not being the person you know you should.
The typical answers
A lot of answers will be similar for many people:
- Statements about mood and outlook, such as, ‘be happy’, ‘don’t take life too seriously’, ‘enjoy the time you have’, ‘don’t worry about things you cannot change’ etc
- Statements about achievements and success, such as, ‘always do your best’, ‘find one thing you love doing and don’t give it up’, ‘find a job you enjoy’ etc
- Statements about love and relationships, such as, ‘find someone you truly love to spend your time with’, ‘make time for friends and family’, ‘don’t waste time on negative people’ etc.
Some however may be more detailed and specific to your experiences. These are the ones which help you truly understand who you are and what you want in life.
They are all important, but it is the specific ones you should pay extra attention because they will likely be the most critical for you.
When I did this, one of the lines I wrote was:
Do not let your worries and fears prevent you doing what you want to do, otherwise you may end up looking back with regret.
This is a hugely important part of my life force because I know for a long time this is exactly what I had been doing.
Following your life force
I can’t stress enough how important it is to follow what you believe is important for you in your life.
One of the paradoxes of living with anxiety and panic attacks is that they prevent you living the life you really want and this then increases your general anxiety and you begin to limit yourself even further and so the cycle continues.
To address this you must continue to make the right choices based on your life force, what you believe is right. By doing so you will not be living a lie, you will be being true to yourself and this can help bring an inner calm which is vital in reducing your anxiety.
When I made that commitment to myself and started to make the right decisions based on what I believe is important the change was incredible. I felt calmer and more relaxed, it felt like the first time in a long time that I knew who I was.
I also realised I actually really quite like that person. The person I didn’t like was the one who tried to avoid anything which made me feel anxious or panicky.
No matter what I face I will follow my ‘life force’. My thoughts and fears will not stop me being who I know I can be and achieving the things I want.
I will not live a lie.
Use what you have written down today as the starting point to working out what you really believe is important to you, what you want from life.
Then get out there and follow it.
No excuses, no constantly telling your stories of woe and putting it off ‘just in case’.
You only get to be that person if you make a commitment to it. To act in spite of the way you feel, because you know in the long run you will only feel worse if you don’t.
Anxiety and panic only goes away when you show it to be the lie it is, when you still do what is right for you whether the anxiety and panic is there or not.
By not constantly worrying and thinking about the way you feel and doing it anyway instead, you remove its power to exist in the first place.
Like this article?
Sign up to receive new posts directly to your inbox for FREE. Just enter your email below and click SUBMIT. We will never share your email – EVER!