By Patricia: One of the greatest sources of dissatisfaction in our lives arises from what is called dissonance. Dissonance arises when what we do, does not support what we believe. For example, if I believe lying is wrong, but I continually find myself lying to cover myself (telling my boss I wasn’t late to work – she just hadn’t seen me yet, when in fact I was late) creates dissonance in my life and my spirit. When there is dissonance, we are unhappy, dissatisfied with ourselves and we have little self-respect.
Often these behaviors that don’t support our beliefs and values arise slowly, and we don’t notice it happening. We start fibbing to our spouse about what we have been doing because we were supposed to have done something and didn’t (or weren’t supposed to have done something and did). We start taking small things from work – a little paper, some paper clips, a couple of pens, because no one will notice and we are underpaid and overworked – “the company owes us”. As we get away with these behaviors and they make our lives easier, the behaviors tend to escalate. This is natural and normal, if we don’t pay attention.
Sooner or later, we become dissatisfied with ourselves, but we can’t figure out why. We are just living our lives as best we can and somehow, we are never happy. There is a way to fix this. It isn’t easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but you can change this situation.
The first thing to do is to take some time and decide what is important to you. Is it family, is it faith or your church, is it your honor, your friendships? Try to find 5-10 values and parts of your life that are important to you. List them on a sheet of paper. Then decide which is the most important item on your list. Put it at the top of a new list. Then decide which is the second most important item on your list, and so forth. You may end up with a list that looks something like:
• Work ethic
This is a great way to get back in touch with your spirituality, your ethics, your inner self. By reconnecting with and reaffirming what is important to you, you reconnect with and reaffirm your own life, your own humanity, your own place in the greater cycle of life.
When you have this list firmly in your mind, start looking at things you commonly do. Start paying attention to your daily activities. If your faith is vital to you, but you have stopped doing the things that your faith requires of you, that can be a source of dissonance. Once you recognize this as a problem for you, you can start putting the things important to your faith back into your life. That may be attending groups with people of like mind (church, synagogue, circle, etc.). It may be taking some time out each day to honor what we believe in. If respect is important to you, but your behavior is not earning your own respect, you can start changing those things that you find unworthy of respect and doing more of those things that are worthy of respect. If you find yourself gossiping and being catty, you can remove yourself from the people and places where you tend to do that and find other people to be with who don’t gossip. If Your behavior is not matching your beliefs, you can change your behavior. You can add things into your life that will enhance your happiness and your self-esteem.
These changes cannot be made in a day, a week, or even a month. But if you start paying attention, you can gradually change your behavior so that you become the person you want to be. You can become the person you can like and be proud of. You will find, as time goes on, that you are learning to like yourself again. As you learn to like yourself, that will show in your attitude and behavior, and other good people will want to be around you to share in your happiness, thus increasing your happiness even more. This becomes an upward spiral that will help you become and remain the person you really want to be.
Love and Light,