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Are your choices really yours?

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Today’s inspirational quote is by Carl Jung and is about footwear (in a metaphorical way): “The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” My interpretation of this is that what makes one person happy might make another person miserable.

Everyone has their own individual path and we need to honour and respect that. The strange thing is that as humans we tend to be more comfortable when people around us share the same points of views on life and how they live it. Case in point, the decision to have children.

This example hits close to home. Not everyone knows this and it’s something quite personal but I don’t think I want kids. I use of the word “think” only because I believe that you should never say never. I am 37 years old and I could always change my mind, but I’m pretty certain that children aren’t for me. I haven’t felt “the calling” as they say. Over the years, when I tell someone I don’t plan on being a mother, very often it seems to confuse them. They don’t quite know what to make of me, what box to put me into.

A recent example of this was when I was in a cab on my way to the airport for Greece when after being on the road for about five minutes the driver asked me if I wanted children. I can’t remember how we got on the topic but when I told him my answer was no, his attitude towards me immediately changed. He started to get agitated, asking me questions and seemed quite upset and dumbfounded. I calmly shared my reasons but he just didn’t want to hear it.

He tried to explain why I MUST have children and that if I didn’t I would basically live a life of misery and die alone. Nice. Fortunately, I am now very comfortable with this decision but it wasn’t always the case. I felt like I should fit in the mould, do what everyone else my age was doing: meet a guy, buy a house and reproduce. When I realized that that wasn’t really what I wanted, I wondered what was wrong with me. It took me a while to realize that not wanting kids didn’t make me a bad or selfish person.

Another big decision I made recently was quitting my job in the corporate world and starting my own wellness business. Most people perceived it as good news since I was leaving to follow my dreams. They were excited for me and even inspired by the courage I demonstrated by taking this huge leap of faith. There was one key person however that didn’t immediately react positively when I told him I had chucked my job. I won’t say who but he is someone who’s guidance, opinion and approval meant the world to me.

I knew that he wouldn’t agree with this decision so I told him after I had already handed in my resignation. To him, quitting my job was creating a situation of “crisis”. I was throwing away all that I had accomplished in the last 13 years of my career and was creating major financial insecurity for myself.

He was viewing this situation through his lenses and his values. He is of the generation of those who when they found a job, they held on to it for dear life. Fortunately, it didn’t take him long to come around and be 100% supportive of my decision even though this was something he would never think of doing in a million years.

Another reason why people might sometimes react with resistance or judgement to the way you live your life is that it confronts them with their own decisions. They start questioning themselves about whether they made the right choices and in order to feel reassured they tell themselves that what you are doing is wrong and what they are doing is right. So when we are faced with people that react that way, it’s important to remember that their response is about them and not you.

It’s so important to listen to your inner voice and follow it no matter what other people might think or say. So often, we drown out that voice and try to convince ourselves that our life is just okay as it is. We feel like we are ungrateful to want more but thinking that way can be very dangerous.

Eventually, we can end up feeling empty, unhappy and worse, sick. Because of lessons I had to learn the hard way in life, I am all about being true to yourself and going after what is calling you. In Carl Jung’s words, if the shoes you are wearing are starting to pinch, it’s time to go shopping for a new pair.

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