Are you living the life you want to be living?
Do you believe you are living the life that you want to be living? Depending on you and your current circumstances, this may be either an easy or a challenging question to answer. Our lives are full of ups and downs and sometimes things don’t go to plan. But if you take a moment to step back and view your life generally, what would your answer be?
I have worked with clients who believed they couldn’t make the changes they desired, or make decisions, due to their concerns about by what others would think of them. When making decisions about our lives that will have consequences for others, thinking of how our choices may impact those around us, is part of being an empathetic, caring person. However, many are not living a life they want and may be experiencing situational depression, lack of happiness and joy, or feeling discontented, all to avoid upsetting others and to keep the peace. They may stay in a relationship that causes them unhappiness and pain because they are concerned about what others may think if they end the relationship. They may continue working in a job they hate to please others, and perhaps because of family or societal expectations.
How you evaluate yourself as a person, what you believe in, or what you are doing is known as a locus of evaluation. Your locus of evaluation can be external, or internal. When we rely on outside validation to feel good about ourselves, our locus of evaluation is external. When your locus of evaluation is external, you rely on others to make you feel good about who you are and what you are doing. An example would be engaging with social media in a way that panders to others, with an expectation of achieving many likes will validate you as an individual. Only to feel disappointment, or perhaps even experiencing a lowered mood when you don’t get the reaction you were hoping for. Another example would be continuing to engage in a line of work you hate because your family and friends think it is a ‘respected’ profession or a ‘good’ job.
An external locus of evaluation can develop over years of conditioning by parents, caregivers, society, and culture. For others, it is a response to trauma or abuse. Many of us need to learn how to listen to our own voice, to separate the voice of other people’s expectations or wants from our own. If you have spent many years and a lot of effort to please others, or found yourself constantly walking on eggshells, it may take some time and personal work to unlearn and to establish a connection to our own internal voice, and to be able to make choices and decisions that are right for you.
When your locus of evaluation is internal, you are using your own standards, morals, likes and dislikes to evaluate yourself and your decisions. Looking at the example above, with an internal locus of evaluation, you engage with social media in a way that is in line with things you care about and what you want to share. Knowing that how many people react to your post is not an indication of your worth, or of who you as a person. Perhaps you really want to give up a job that you don’t like for something that you enjoy. Your family reacts to this news with disappointment and negativity. Their response may come from a place of genuine concern for you, or it may be about the expectations they have for you. There is value in feedback from others, but ultimately what you do and the decisions you make about your life should be your choice. We hope that those that care for us want us to be content in the life we decide to live, although this may not always be the case. Engaging from an internal locus of evaluation perspective is not selfish. Although others may try to convince you otherwise if you begin to make decisions in line with your own wants and goals, instead of their expectations of how you should live your life. This is your life and not theirs.
If you begin to make changes in your life there may be bumps in the road. There are few of us who can hear criticism or the negative opinions of others and not be impacted by this in some way. And I am not saying it will be easy. However, the alternative is living your life in a way that is dictated by other people’s standards and opinions. By checking in with yourself regularly and ensuring that your choices are in line with what you want and need (internal locus of evaluation), you will be moving towards living the life you want to live.
Making decisions and changes in your life can be challenging. Some things you may be able to address yourself. However, sometimes we can benefit from additional support and assistance. If there are issues and circumstances that you need support and assistance to work through, please contact me for an obligation free, confidential discussion as to how I may be able to assist you. I am a clinical hypnotherapist (Clinical member AHA), counsellor (Member ACA), yoga and meditation teacher. Phone and online sessions are available.
Ph 0403 357 656