AND Stick With The Carrot

September 29th, 2013

I have been talking with a number of women who are changing the parts of their lives that no longer bring them joy. AND I have been struck by the number of them who focus denying themselves what they love, effectively punishing themselves, in order to make themselves do what they know will serve their journey. Whether it is saying no to invitations to go with people they choose not to engage, rejecting activities that do not fill them up, or letting go of identities that no longer fit, they threaten themselves with some kind of stick in order to find the courage to follow their path.

Rather than giving ourselves permission to follow what we truly want, women often resort to the punishment route of changing behavior—discipline and the stick. Why don’t we don’t simply choose the carrot and build in a system of rewards for doing what serves our journey and the highest expression of who we are? The impact of choosing the stick (punishment or threat) over the carrot (celebration or reward) is that we often make ourselves miserable and set ourselves up to fail at releasing undesired behaviors and relationships.

If we were not afraid of what others would say or think, and we rewarded ourselves for taking steps to follow our hearts, we would set ourselves up for success and a much easier path. Living from compassion and courage might mean walking away from some relationships and situations. We might need to change the behaviors that we have taught others to expect from us and by which we have often learned to identify ourselves in order to live from joy and serve our purpose at the highest level. By choosing the carrot,   we would give ourselves permission to find communities of support for the changes we know our hearts want and not feel that we have to do everything on our own.

The invitation before all of us these days is to trust the wisdom of the heart AND to find the courage to override many socially taught and internalized messages that no longer serve us, to step into greater health and joy, as we discover our passions and path. We can either hold ourselves hostage to self-inflicted punishments and threats to keep ourselves on path or celebrate and reward each step that takes us closer to joy, freedom, and the highest expression of who we are. AND the journey is much more fun and celebratory when we stick with the carrot.

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