The desire to be yourself sounds like a bizarre notion. Who else would you be but yourself? From the time I was a child I was told what to do, what to wear, and what to believe. My parents did this, along with the elders in my life to give me direction and guidance. But what happens when those you turn to for guidance are burnt out, stressed-out, angry, shame-full, and not living in their truth? Often and unknowingly they project onto you their own longings, disappointments, and fears. It took me until my late 30s to realize that much of my fears were not my own but my family’s fears. Some of it is the collective consciousness of a society that is afraid of stepping into joy fully.

Often we walk around as though we need permission to be happy. We look to others with puppy dogs eyes asking, is it okay? Am I allowed to do the things that make me happy? The universe will always respond with an astounding YES! Yes! It’s ok to be silly and dance around in your undies, even if you have kids. Yes, you can eat popsicles for breakfast if you want to! Yes, you can be beautiful without having a fashion model’s body and that person will still love you. Yes, to it all! Joy is real and it’s out there for our taking. An important step into accessing joy, is knowing yourself fully. Learn to decipher what are YOUR thoughts, beliefs, and values versus others’.

When I was younger I believed that I had to have a university degree, a high paying job, a husband, and a baby. All in that order before I was allowed to relax and be happy. As ridiculous as that sounds, I believed it to be true. When my life veered from this “perfect path”, I would carry anxiety throughout my body and mentally beat myself up with negative self-talk. In my mind, I was a failure. Looking back, I feel so much love for the young me and can laugh at myself for taking life way too seriously. There is no right or wrong path. That’s what makes it fun!

All those years of being tough on myself, could have been spared had I only known my limiting thoughts were fears projected onto me by my parents. With loving intention, my immigrant parents wanted their children to supersede them in every way. We were suppose to live the life they could only dream of. I was a pendulum, going back and forth between rebelliousness and a desire to reach for something that I wasn’t even sure I wanted. My joy quotient increased substantially when I was able to parse out what beliefs were actually mine. I learned to let go of my parents dream for me and created my own. What beliefs are you holding onto that are not yours?

Here is an exercise in deciphering your beliefs versus others’:

Find a safe space where you can get quiet with yourself. Sit down, or kneel down with palms open. Relax your body by taking a few deep breaths and sink into the quiet. Ask God, the universe, (whatever you believe in) to show you clearly what thoughts, beliefs you are holding onto that are not yours. Allow this information to surface without judgement. When the practice is over write down what came to you. Your life will shift with this new awareness.

I trust that the love in me is the same love in you. But first, find out what is yours. Namaste