The other experience I had this past week evolved around a young teenage boy who is coping with the aftermath of his parents' divorce. Rather than stuff his feelings down and try to pretend everything's all right, he started talking about his need to express some things, even if it meant he stayed in a period of sadness for a while. He said it was better to be sad for a little while, and not try to live up to what his parents or friends expected, than pretend everything is all right.
I was so struck by his maturity and the fact that he wasn't taking the easy way out. Of course, there are degrees to everything. If this boy totally took off any filters whatsoever -- and began to "act out" in inappropriate ways -- that could be a major cause for concern.
Being true to ourselves is, perhaps, the most validating thing we can do. When our internal self senses we're congruent with our values -- no matter which hat we're wearing -- a sense of peace washes over us. Easier said than done, though. There are no easy answers, and the degrees of measurement can be situational from experience to experience or from person to person.
Thankfully, our day-to-day living laboratory provides lots of opportunities to get it right -- or get it wrong. But how do we know?
It's all in the way we feel. We know when we're out of balance; we just may not know what to do about it.
The good news -- and the bad news -- is that we get to pick our battles. Sometimes it makes sense to pull back and not rock the boat. When we're compromising so much to keep the peace around us, though, it may be time to pay attention to the fact that we're cheating ourselves out of inner harmony.
As long as we hold the intention to live an authentic life -- and we get more times at bat -- chances are we'll eventually hit more home runs. Here's more good news. As with any sport, we get better with practice.
And we need to remember not to take ourselves too seriously by replaying incidents over and over in our minds. While some extreme situations may call for rumination, most cases don't. As my friend Pam Steelhammer so wisely says, "Life is like the Home Shopping Network. If you don't get the mallard ducks, you can always go for the faux pearls."
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.