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If you’re someone who chooses to live your life differently than how you were brought up, or from the dominant ways of being in society / the culture you grew up in, it’s possible you’ve come up against resistance.

External resistance, of course, but internal resistance as well.

Even if you whole-heartedly believe in the choices you make for yourself, feeling stress or anxiety about your choices could be a sign you’re still identifying with society’s values over your own. This might come across as a critical voice in your mind – like self-doubt or constant internal judgement that you’re not doing enough or being good enough.

Let me give you a recent example from my own life, because I think it illustrates what I’m trying to say much more clearly.

I decided to leave the corporate world a few years ago. I knew what I wanted for myself and the ways of working that felt good for me. 

I knew what I valued and what I wanted to prioritize.

Specifically, I wanted to create a life for myself that involved:

    • Time flexibility (choosing my work hours + not having to be at a desk for 8 straight hours)
    • Location flexibility (working from anywhere in the world, but also working from different kinds of set-ups, e.g. bed, cafe, couch, floor, etc.)
    • Feeling my work is deeply meaningful to me
    • Being able to determine the direction of my work
    • A sense of control over how I spend my time and energy
    • Developing my intuition and accessing my spirituality on a deeper level
    • Prioritzing my intuition over obligations to others (e.g. not having to suppress my intuition or creativity because of my office commitments)
    • Pursuing self-knowledge and the full expression my soul intended to experience in this incarnation (though I wouldn’t have described it this way a few years ago)

So, those were the values I had or was heading towards a few years ago. And on the conscious level, I knew those meant living according to different values than the ones I was operating in within the corporate world.

I actively and consciously chose to do things and make decisions based on my own standards and values for myself – things that aligned with the life I wanted for myself.

But it wasn’t an overnight switch. In fact, I would say the past few years have felt like a huge struggle in a lot of ways.

I was riddled with self-doubt. I’d have this fear that I’d disappoint people, that everything I was creating or offering was terrible and wouldn’t really help anyone.

I wouldn’t be making progress as quickly as I wanted to, and I’d feel so self-critical of how much work I was doing and the kind of work I was doing.

I’d judge myself for needing to do more and do it better.

If it’s not working, it’s because I suck. Or my work sucks.

But recently, I realized that I was judging my current work and life decisions based on the old set of standards I operated within.

I’ve been judging my “success” based on what success looked like in the corporate world.

I realized that my version of success has nothing to do with the old standards I lived in.

I’ve been judging myself and my goodness on external goals and signs of success, all while trying to live a life based on internal things, like feeling and intuition.

Success for me now is based on whether I’m listening to and acting on my intuition and what feels good in my body.

So all I need to know is:

    • Am I in touch with my intuition?
    • Am I listening to my intuition?
    • Am I acting on my intuition?
    • Am I doing things that feel “right” for me?

Yes? Great, what a success!

Before this realization, I could not have ever been successful, because I was operating by one set of standards, while still subconsciously identified with another.

My internal beliefs / values did not match what I was telling myself I wanted. There was internal conflict.

You cannot BE (feel) successful when there’s internal conflict at such a deep level.

And if you don’t feel successful (whatever that means for you), it won’t show up in your physical reality.

Interestingly, right after having this massive realization for myself, I had an incredible income day. Coincidence? 😉

My version of success involves living a spirit-led* life, so that’s how I need to measure my decisions and actions.

(*Use of this term and my realization was triggered by this post and related newsletter content from Makhosi.)

Are you coming up against some kind of internal resistance?

Do you feel like you’re constantly judging your work and your progress by a different set of standards?

What is really important to you? Are those the values you measure yourself against?

When we measure ourselves against standards and values that don’t align with what we want for ourselves, the judgement and self-criticism limit and censor your potential – your potential for joy, whatever success means to you, a sense of purpose and fulfilment, and so on.

This growth and shift in mindset were possible because of the work I’ve done to tune into my intuition and my body.

The more in touch with my intuition (and body) I became, the more “aligned” decisions I made. The more aware I became of what felt “good” and “right” for me, the more I moved in that direction.

My self-portrait photography practice has played a huge role. Through it, I spend time WITH and BY myself, reflecting, observing, exploring, and expressing.

It is a very physical, embodied practice. This is important, because your body and your physical senses are HOW you perceive and interpret your intuition. Your physical body is a sensing, perceiving organism, and intuition is a sense we can all develop – just like you can train your sense of smell or hearing.

Regularly tuning into your body and your Self through embodiment practices, like self-portraits, helps to train your intuition muscle. The best part is – anyone can take advantage of what self-portraits have to offer in this area.