I hear about high-achieving and self-satisfaction all the time. I read about it, listen to my clients and when I speak at events I’m asked questions about it.
Contrary to what they portray, today’s passionate driven, high-achieving women are not contented and satisfied. Period.
Self-satisfaction seems to have won their hearts over the outer markings of success. Yet how they create fulfillment eludes them. Thinking this way has led them to question the path they’re on and the direction they should pursue.
The problem with this kind of mindset is it hinders you from seeing a current situation accurately and can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It can also get in the way of clear problem solving because you’re bringing to the situation habitual patterns of thinking.
Overly rigid patterns of thinking become what Dr. Karen Reivich calls “thinking traps” that can retard productive emotions, resilience and wellbeing.
Dr. Albert Ellis taught that it is not the activating event itself (discontent, unfulfilled or dissatisfaction) that determines what we feel or what we do. It is what we think and say about the situation that impacts how we feel, what we do and even our physiology.
How you think drives your emotions, behaviors and ability to exercise self-satisfaction.
You can’t always control the stuff that life brings your way. But what you can control is your interpretations of it, your thoughts.
First, you have to do some soul searching and determine what will actually give you satisfaction. What’s the missing attribute? It may not be what you think.
GETTING TO THE ANSWER
I am learning through the behavior sciences and the building of my own true freedom some specific guidelines that I call ‘rules of flourishing’ to help these women in their quest for life-satisfaction. I’ll share 3 of them here.
1. Exercise self-awareness. Understand that you represent different faces of self. At home you may be sister, daughter, wife or mom. At work you may be leader, employer, employee or entrepreneur. You call forth various aspects of your personality depending on who you represent and where you are.
Look at yourself in each role and determine what it is you’re missing. Imagine a broader sense of self that will fill the void. See yourself in a different light. You will become aware of the strengths and attributes you already possess. I call this the design within.
Integrate and use these strengths as needed in your respective roles and design a plan of making the new you a reality. When you better know who you are, not what you can accomplish, you will have peace of mind and find the direction and contentment you’ve been seeking.
2. Exercise mental agility. Think about thinking. Look at your situation from multiple perspectives so that you’re assessing things accurately and productively.
Thinking traps will get in the way of mental agility. You can challenge this mindset by asking yourself some hard questions: “Who am I in this moment?” “Who would I be if I give myself permission to follow my heart and not my head?” “Is there a way I could enjoy more life knowing I am the author of my contentment?”
Questions like these enable you to consciously separate the facts from your thoughts and beliefs in your head and how it made you feel or what it made you do. Thoughts within themselves are not the problem. You want to be more flexible in your thinking.
3. Exercise brain reprogramming. The brain does not know the difference between what it sees and what it thinks about. You’ve probably learned to be discontented, unfulfilled and dissatisfied along the way. Science says the more you are opened to considering new ways of thinking and acting, the faster the transmitters in your brain grow and expand.
Through behavioral learning, reflecting and persisting you can reprogram your brain and increase your ability to adapt to circumstances.
- Learning. “What would relieve my discontent and dissatisfaction?” “Could seeing through the lens of my personal and professional life give me the perspective I’m missing?” “Am I solely driven by demonstrating my expertise or trusting and developing others?”
- Reflecting. See yourself in a new light as you ponder your response to those questions so your brain can change the structure of your way of thinking. In The Potential Principle, Mark Sanborn says, “The inner world informs the outer world, and that for the majority of us, going within to understand motivations, hopes fears, and dreams offers some of the greatest leverage to improving every area of our lives.”
- Persisting. Repeat the process until the restless behavior is changed and transformed.
What you are thinking every moment of every day becomes a physical reality in your brain and body.
The key here is to stop wearing yourself out believing that you have to achieve more to be more. Self-satisfaction, fulfillment and contentment aren’t tangible. Rather, they are from within you.
Begin nurturing who you are and what you already have. Express gratitude. Savor life. Cultivate optimism.
You’ll discover that the flourishing potential has been in your heart all the time.
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