“I want to live with ever-increasing integrity, in accordance with my highest ideals, rather than settle for a mediocre version of myself. I want to take greater ownership of my strengths, talents, and power. I want to realize the most creative and positive aspects of my potential, and keep my baser motives and impulses in check. Mostly I just want to be more loving and kind.”
–Eric Teplitz, inspiredlivingblog.wordpress.com
What if we held ourselves and others in the highest vision of who we are and who we can become?
What would that require?
Suzette and Mike have been married seven years and are expecting their first baby next month. Before marriage they developed a clear vision of what they wanted to create in their lives. It included honoring their deeply held spiritual and religious values as a couple, finishing their education, gaining employment, and starting a family. They honor daily and weekly spiritual practices together in accordance with their faith. Both earned their masters degrees and are now mental health therapists. The birth of Adelaide next month will be a long awaited and joyous event that is part of their vision for their lives.
These past seven years I have witnessed the smart choices and sacrifices Suzette and Mike have made to hold themselves and each other in the highest vision of their potential. And I have learned from them.
Last night over dinner we all brainstormed about today’s topic. “It’s hard to acknowledge one’s potential and who we might really be,” Suzette said. “Because it also requires facing one’s shadow which shouts, ‘who do you think you are anyway?’ when we are considering our highest possibilities.”
“We have to start with acceptance,” Mike added, “of ourselves and others and whatever experience a person is having. By allowing ourselves and others to feel what they feel and think what they think we offer their process validity. We often want to want to ‘fix’ ourselves and others, but in taking that approach we stop trusting the person’s process and the use of their own abilities.”
Indeed, accepting what is, whether in ourselves, others, or life, does not mean we are saying what is happening is all right; it is just acknowledging reality. In fact, this is one of the important definitions of truth: things as they really are. When we stop using our energy to fight and struggle against an existing set of circumstances, the question then becomes how can I meet this, how can I consciously respond to these circumstances rather than impulsively reacting and resisting?
So often our lives are defined and created not by what happens to us, but by the choices we make in response to what happens to us. We can hold ourselves in our highest vision by asking ourselves, and honestly answering, the following questions:
How are my choices affecting my life? Do they honor the highest vision of myself?
How are my choices affecting others in my life?
Do my choices honor the highest vision of their potential?
The choices we make often require sacrifice. Sacrifice means giving up something of lesser value for something of greater value. In Mikes’ case this meant working a job he didn’t particularly care for during the entire time he was getting his undergraduate degree. The value of that sacrifice was having no debt for his schooling. Suzette also working during her schooling and now is willing to go through the difficult sacrifice of pregnancy for her baby and working until the baby’s birth.
During the past week in Utah, I have witnessed what happens when we take on the challenge of accepting whatever difficulties hamper our journey by making wise choices to respond to those difficulties; and being willing to sacrifice for a higher vision of what is possible.
My trip started out with a wedding ceremony of a dear friend. I have witnessed her brave recovery from addiction as she sacrificed intense pleasure for higher values. That led to impulsive choices being replaced with wise choices. I saw her practice acceptance of her self and others with both their limitations and possibilities. That led to deeper connections with self and other. As she became willing to sit with the suffering of change and willing to sacrifice for a higher vision, her potential blossomed in all areas of her life. The wedding was particularly poignant to me because of what preceded the joyful occasion of joining her life with another person who is committed to the growth of their potential together.
Later I had lunch with a writer friend who desperately wants to engage in a relationship prematurely and has tempered her feelings so that she can trust the natural order of her life and of the other. After lunch our conversation continued on a nature walk through the dramatic rocks of Utah as we explored the pros and cons of what was possible if she were to take things slow; to focus on her personal development; to allow a natural unfolding of what is now a sweet friendship.
Though the exciting pull of this new attraction felt strong, there were also complications that her adult self knew needed to be resolved and that might take some time. For her, to slow down, was a sacrifice. It required letting go. Just being in nature added its own wisdom to the conversation—a reminder of how there are seasons to life’s unfolding and how the process can work with beauty and wonder.
We too can evolve into the highest vision of ourselves as we are willing to meet life where it is at with wise choices, and the necessary sacrifices and work for that amazing unfolding. As we do, we can say, as Emily Dickinson so eloquently penned, “I dwell in possibility.”