I got a tweet from someone the other day asking me how she could tell, for sure, if she was on the wrong path in life. Here’s the quick answer: you just know. If you’re not on the right path, you will feel it; in the core of your being, there will be a sense that something is “off” or missing. It’s a gut thing more than anything else.
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The problem with the quick answer, of course, is that most of us have spent a lifetime trying to override our gut instincts in favour of being rational, reasonable and sensible. We’ve learned to tune out that inner knowing in order to please the people who are most important to us, and to fit in with the world around us.
How to tell if you’re on the wrong path
So here’s the longer answer: pay attention. Pay attention to how you think and feel as you go about your daily life. In particular, be alert for any of the following signs:
Sign #1: You’re living by proxy.
When you’re living by proxy, you’ve handed your power over to other people. You put a lot of stock in just about everyone else’s opinion and advice… except your own. Most of the decisions you make are actually made by other people – they choose where to go for dinner, they give you advice on what to wear, they told you what the best educational or career path for you would be, they tell you whether the person you’re with would be good for you or not. You’re no longer the captain of your own ship, and you’re letting other people call the shots in your life.Stop living by proxy; take responsibility for your own power & your own life. Click To Tweet
Sign #2: You picked the safe route.
You’re only doing what you’re doing now because you thought it was the safest, most sensible thing to do. You picked your field or your particular job out of fear – more specifically, out of other people’s fears. You’re not happy where you are, however, and you spend a lot of time wondering what would have happened “if”. . Most aspects of your life are governed by guilt and “should”s – you do what you do because you think you should do it, not because you want to do it.
Sign #3: You feel empty.
We all have off days, where we’re just not ourselves. But you seem to have more of them than most. It goes beyond simple tiredness… you feel drained, like you’re living in a void. You are constantly dragging yourself through your days and you’ll jump on any excuse for avoiding having to do what your do (hell, you almost look forward to being sick because it gives you a legitimate reason for not having to go into work). There’s an emptiness within you; an almost overwhelming, despairing belief that there has to be more to life than this.
Sign #4: You’re a clock-watcher.
The corollary to sign #3 is that you’ve become a clock-watcher; you spend your work days staring at the clock, counting down the hours and minutes until quitting time and wondering how the hell it can be possible that only five minutes have passed in the eternity since you last checked the time. You feel like you’re wasting your time and can’t see any meaning in what you do.
Sign #5: Your “friends” aren’t.If all you hear are barbed comments followed by 'just kidding', you need new friends. Click To Tweet
I’ve talked before about the importance of having the right connections in your life – the attitudes and perspectives of those you spend the most time with will rub off on you and affect your ability to succeed in life. And the people around you are not affecting you in a good way.
While you make time for them, they won’t do the same with you, or when they do, it seems to be in a double-edged sword kind of way; whenever you’re with them, they seem to go out of their way to say or do things that make you feel bad. Thinly veiled put-downs and barbed comments followed by a “just kidding” are the norm when you interact. These people are quick to point out all the reasons why the things that are important you would never work, and they’re slow to offer any kind of support or encouragement for anything you do, unless it’s something they’ve told you to do.
If you recognize these signs…
Do you recognize any of these warning signs at play in your own life? If so, then there’s a good chance that you are on the wrong path and it’s time for you to consider some serious soul-searching. Find some quiet time where you can be alone and undisturbed and try to reconnect with your own inner guidance once again.
Ask yourself what’s really important to you in life – not what’s important to other people in your life (no matter how much you care about those other people), and not what you think should be important to you. Figure out what’s really important to YOU then ask yourself if you’re living it. If not, you can start shifting yourself back onto your right path by finding small ways to add those elements into your life now. As you start doing this, you’ll find that a lot of these danger signs will start to fade, and you’ll begin feeling more in control of your own life once again.
photo credit: pixabay.com cc (modified by me)
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Great topic! The truth is, most people behave this way. So, like one spiritual teacher mentioned, her name does not come to me at the moment, one of the problems of this world is that people are not fulfilling their destiny. I totally agree with her. If they did, they would not cause misery to others, spread fear, say and do bad things, mind their own business and actually be useful, and all the things that come with it.
I think life takes you to where you need to be one way or another but of course, you need to really tune in to the signs. So if you get fired from a job that did not suit you and you complained about, say hallelujah and go on from there instead of feeling bad everyone else feels bad for you.
Now, if at times you wonder about what would have been for the path not taken, this would be another blog post I guess.
I don’t know if it’s fulfilling our destinies so much as choosing to follow a path that’s right for us. I don’t really believe in written-in-stone, unalterable destiny — I think we create our own destinies as we go along. We are all born with unique gifts that can help to make the world a better place, whether in big ways or in small (and both are important), but it’s up to us to actually use those gifts and share them with the world. I think that unhappiness, and those problems of which you speak, are the result of not using those gifts.
P.S. We touched on the path not taken in the article about lost opportunity.
Why do people (and I include myself, for sure) worry so much about pleasing other people and in that process perhaps forfeit their own true happiness? I mean, really…think about it. Take a good look out there at those whom we truly, greatly admire, some to the point of almost reverence: these are all people who refused to conform, rebelled against the mundane and mediocre, didn’t care what people thought, and they SOARED. Maybe (yeah, probably) at one time, others looked down on these people for that, but now they’ve turned their heads in the opposite direction!
Isn’t the truth glaringly obvious by how brightly their lights shine?
And it isn’t just a matter of fame, celebrity, riches, or any materialistic things. It’s people having the tenacity to stick to their guns and to stay on the path that would lead them to the fulfillment and joy of their souls.
We know the difference, and yet, that old fear rears its ugly head again. What, exactly–and yes, we do need to be specific, otherwise we’ll forever be stuck in limbo!–are we afraid of?
I would imagine that at the time these people were refusing to conform, they were getting a lot of heat from others. It’s usually only after people have accomplished what they set out to do that the rest of the world flips its attitude around and starts saying “oh yeah, we knew he was right all along…”
Here’s a quote for you: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. ~Arthur Schopenhauer”
What we are afraid of falls into four basic categories: we’re afraid of succeeding and not being able to handle it, we’re afraid of failing and humiliating ourselves, we’re afraid of what other people are going to say or do, and we’re afraid of taking a risk and stepping out into the unknown (we are predisposed to fear the unknown for a number of reasons). I get into all of these fears in the fear book, which will get published soon, assuming I get over this whole being sick thing and can start functioning properly again… 🙂
Nice post! It’s probably the most important topic we can discuss these days. If everyone was clear about their purpose, and if they were taking the right action steps, the world would look totally different.
Lawrence recently posted…Changing the World: How Should We Start?
The world would indeed look totally different if everyone was clear about the purpose. But part of the fun is in the process of finding out what that purpose is, as much as it is in the doing of it. 🙂