Election day is almost here, and it got me thinking about how and why we vote the way they do. In my mom's tiny hometown in upstate New York, she is in a political minority by being a Democrat. I asked her why so many of the farmers and factory workers there vote Republican, despite their concerns being historically underrepresented, and she said, "It's just the way it's always been. They vote the way their family has voted for generations." Huh? They vote with no knowledge as to how the politicians' record stands on issues that are important to them?
Although that may not seem logical, it is more common than you might think. There are many areas of our lives where we just go with the flow without questioning if that flow works for us, or ever really did.
In what areas of your life are you on autopilot?
Do you have relationships with people you have outgrown or don't even really like, but you stay friends simply because they have always been in your life? Do you vote a particular way solely because your spouse or family does? Do you spend your spare time engaging in activities that you really do not enjoy because it is expected of you or because it is what you have always done?
Questioning the status quo in your life is a way to reveal and honor your authentic self. An autopilot response is based on the past and someone else's choice or desire. In order to evolve and grow, you have to be willing to honor your authentic feelings and beliefs as they also evolve.
In my early 20s, I began questioning everything in my life and started making changes according to what I discovered. I became a vegetarian, much to the dismay of my paternal grandfather, who was a cattle broker. I saw the negative impact drinking had on both sides of my family, so I quit cold turkey during my senior year of college. Again, there was push-back from family and friends, but eventually they accepted my choice, and some even followed suit. These are just two of many changes that have differentiated me from my family or peer group. Questioning the status quo and giving myself permission to change my mind about things allowed me to honor and know myself, authentically. This is an ongoing process for which I am incredibly grateful.
If you need a little illumination about how aligned you are with your true self, try this journaling/list-making exercise:
You are going to write four lists. Try not to edit or judge, just allow a flow from your heart through your hand and see what you reveal.
1. I Am...
How do you identify yourself? Include ethnicity, gender, martial status, political affiliation, etc.
2. I Love Spending My Spare Time Doing...
3. The Qualities I Value Most in My Relationships Are...
4. The Political Issues That Most Concern Me Are...
Once your lists are complete, you should have more clarity on how you feel and what you value. This can be used as a guide to see where you might not be living in alignment with your personal truth. Choosing to question the status quo might ruffle some feathers, but not questioning your choices is a choice as well. In the end, you are the only person responsible for how satisfying your life experience turns out to be.
I hope you take the time to do the exercise and share what you discover right here with us. Have an amazing week, dialed into your true heart, and, as always, take care of you.
Love love love
For more by Terri Cole, click here
For more on emotional intelligence, click here.
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