“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” – Gayle Forman, If I Stay
My daughter has been watching a relatively new show, and she came to me the other day with quite an insightful awareness. She said to me, “Mom, I noticed everyone on this show looks a little too perfect and I don’t feel good about myself when I watch it.” Holy cow. Seriously, it took me a bit by surprise how she was able to articulate something I know happens to me, yet still get subconsciously captured by and often mindlessly float along with the river (often rapids) of societal expectations.
Mindfulness isn’t just something that the flowery yoga people need; it is for every one of us. It is the awareness that we bring to our daily lives. It is the consciousness we bring to our thoughts, our words and our actions. Being mindful in the moment allows us to be accountable for our decisions in our present that affect our future.
Over the years, I have realized that with whom and with what we choose to surround our self makes all the difference in the world. I learned what healthy friendships looked like. And equally, what healthy disagreement looked like. I could either choose to see reality as it is, instead of wishing for it be something I thought it should be.
We are the gatekeepers to our own happiness.
When we use social media, or watch a favorite program on TV, we can enjoy this time, and yet be cognizant of what messages we are taking in. This is crucial because without an awareness, so many subliminal messages start to seep in and ooze into our values and priorities. An innocent glance on social media, can subconsciously bring feelings of inferiority because you see messages and advertisements of what you are “supposed” to look like, the opportunities you “should” be giving your kids, and the social functions that you “must” be attending.
If hanging out with a particular group of people always seems to leave you feeling badly about yourself, it might be time to seek out new companions. If a certain podcast or TV show constantly leaves you feeling you don’t add up, it may be time to turn the channel. Social media is the epitome of a one-sided relationship; you see all of the good without any of the bad. Whether it be a relationship, a career, a milestone, we are often shown the final product, and not the sleepless nights of blood, sweat and tears it took to get there.
If we keep looking to the measuring stick of everything around us, we are always going to be at the whim of something else’s standard. As soon as the bar changes as to what is enough, we have to readjust as well, referencing external factors instead of referencing our self. We have to be aware, be mindful of how we feel when we are around certain people or in a particular situation. If we constantly leave feeling worse off, agitated or unsettled, it might be time to reevaluate how essential it is to allow this person, place or thing in our lives. No wonder people often feel helpless in their own lives; as if their actions are being driven by some outside force. When we let external factors set the standards for how we live our lives, we are turning over all of our power, our autonomy to choose what we want in our lives.
It isn’t until we take the reigns and determine what we let in; what images, messages, and subconscious rules of society, that we are going to make true for ourselves. It’s up to us; between what we choose and who - or what - chooses for us.