CROSSROADS: Resolving Inner Conflict

Updated: Jan 6, 2020

Sunrise over Black Lake in Northern New York - October 13, 2019,

Do you live in line with your beliefs?

Similar to the question that I posed in the last blog post, seven years ago my answer to this question would have also been a resounding no - if I had possessed the courage to ask myself the question. Only this one was even more difficult for me to acknowledge, because admitting my own actions betrayed my beliefs is not something anyone would be proud to confess.

In this week’s podcast I share an excerpt from “The Seasons of Change” entitled “The Game,” as well as the song that accompanies the piece. I was tempted to skip over this excerpt because I knew these would be difficult things for me to acknowledge. In the end I decided to share it because painting a picture that my life is all hearts and rainbows doesn’t get me anywhere, and my past mistakes do not define me.

If you would like to read the entire excerpt and the story behind the song, you can purchase “The Seasons of Change” on Amazon by following the link below. If you would like to listen to the excerpt and hear the song “The Game,” then follow the link below to listen for free on Apple Podcasts.

Today I am an author, fitness class instructor, personal trainer, life coach, and entrepreneur - but seven years ago, when I wrote “The Game,” I was none of these things. I was not living a life that was in line with my beliefs, and it was the inner conflict, or divide, that this caused that was the inspiration behind “The Game.” When I wrote the song I was consumed with feelings anger, jealousy, resentment, and unhappiness, but I wasn’t ready to confront the feelings that I was having. Writing “The Game” did allow me to release the feelings that I was having at the time, but because I wasn’t ready to acknowledge my own conflicting emotions I projected my anger onto someone else, blaming her for my unhappiness.

One of the most difficult lessons that I have learned during this path of self-discovery is if there is something that sends my temper flaring, then it is most likely the area in which I need to do the most work. Why my temper flares it is a pretty good indicator that something has struck a nerve somewhere inside of me and it has taken me to a defensive place, and I start to project my anger elsewhere.

Long ago, the depth psychologist Carl Jung contended that “what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” And today this viewpoint is generally abbreviated to “what you resist persists,” with many kindred paradoxical variants - such as, “You always get what you resist.” Isn’t that the truth - deny it as long as you want to, but if you continue to ignore it then it is never going to go away.

Today it is easier for me to recognize when this is happening. Just like anyone else, I still sometimes fall victim to this defense mechanism - did I mention that I was human? Thankfully it is usually short-lived and I try to always keep my intentions in check. This is much easier than it used to be for me, but I certainly was not in any place in my life at the time I wrote the game to be able to step back and assess my intentions and behavior objectively.

At this point in my life these feelings were a result of inner conflict - I was betraying my own beliefs ad the person that I believe that I am and strive to be. As my son grew and I began to bring music back into my life the tension increased in my home life.

On the one hand I had something that brought me to life, something that I believed enabled me to effectively to connect to others, something that inspired me. And on the other hand I had my husband and other people in my life that didn’t believe that I should be doing both. Was I betraying my belief that I should be devoting myself exclusively to my son and my husband? That is what I had done up until this point, but suddenly I was wrestling with this desire to have a little bit of myself back. And it wasn’t going over well.

I’d like to mention a book that helped me to learn a lot about myself. It is “Perfectly Yourself - 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness” written by Matthew Kelly. I have read a lot of books by Matthew Kelly and they are great resources if you are looking to explore personal growth. I will continue to reference some of his work in upcoming podcasts, but today I am going to focus on Perfectly Yourself. Specifically his 5th Lesson for Enduring Happiness. Live What You Believe.

Matthew Kelly asks us to answer the question, “What do you believe?” Because we all have a belief system - in this book he does not explore religious beliefs, but rather the personal and practical beliefs that affect our everyday lives.

Some of the examples of this that he gives are:

Do you believe that you have a role in making the world a more harmonious place, or do you believe that world peace is completely beyond our control?

Do you believe that people are intrinsically good, or do you believe that people will use you and wrong you if they are given the opportunity?

He also states that “as we grow in maturity, we become aware of two important realizations. The first is that people are not born with beliefs and opinions; these are the result of education and experience. Therefore people’s beliefs and opinions are constantly being refined as they are exposed to new experiences and ongoing education.

The second realization is: “Belief is something that evolves in our lives. Have you always believed exactly what you believe today? Of course you haven’t. You have developed your beliefs in response to the education and experiences that you have been exposed to along the way. And there is a very good chance that your beliefs will continue to change as you grow in intellectual and spiritual maturity in the years to come.” We all have the capacity to believe, and what we believe affects the way we live our lives. The reason that Matthew Kelly states that these beliefs are so central to this discussion is because there is no faster way to create enduring unhappiness than to act against your beliefs - you are essential betraying yourself, which results in inner conflict - a dividedness within yourself.

This is exactly what I was experiencing at the time in my life that I wrote “The Game”. I had not yet read this book when I was going through this point in my life. I had never done any self-reflection - not like this at least. I had never been brave enough to look that deeply into my own life and actions. And it clearly created a dividedness in me. And my unhappiness, anger, and jealousy were the feelings that resulted from this.

The struggle that I was had to do with identifying what Matthew Kelly would describe as my essential purpose. There was confusion in me, a divide that I had no idea how to put into words at that point in my life. I believe my essential purpose, or what I have to offer the world is communicating with others, helping others. Today I do that through my fitness classes, working with clients, through my music, and through my writing. I had a drive inside me that I didn’t understand or know what to do with - and I had been ignoring it. Music is one of the ways that I communicate and that is why it was so important to me. That is why when I was faced with the dilemma of pursuing my passion and purpose and discovering a way to incorporate that into my life as a wife and as a mother it caused so much inner turmoil for me. I was trying to figure these things out. And I was angry because it was not being well received at home. I didn’t understand why it had to be one or the other, or why I shouldn’t be able to pursue music when I was a wife and a mother.

This comes down to my belief that I should be able to do all of these things. I don’t believe that I should sacrifice something that is important to me as an individual because I am a wife and a mother. It was because I was ignoring that voice inside, the voice of my authentic self that told me that this was part of who I was that it was so difficult for me to give these things up. And the tension at home that had resulted was producing resentment and anger in me.

Today I can say that I believe wholeheartedly that we should not have to sacrifice who we are, or give up our passions because we are wives and mothers - or husbands or fathers! I believe that the relationships in our lives should push us to be more, encourage us to be all that we can be. But at the time I questioned my beliefs. Was it fair for me to want these things?Shouldn’t I be able to sacrifice these things for my marriage, for my son? Was I a bad mother and a bad wife because I also had personal aspirations? It is that inner conflict that was creating the divide in my life, and within myself.

Hindsight is 20/20, right? Maybe if I had understood it better at the time I would have been able to talk these things through with my husband. Maybe he would have understood why it was so important to me. I’m not sure. Not that it matters, the past cannot be changed. But I was not aware of this struggle as it was happening. All I knew was that it created unhappiness in me, and I didn’t know what to do with it. And when I wrote “The Game” this unhappiness and these feelings of anger and frustration were taken out on someone else… because I wasn’t yet ready to look within for these answers. I wasn’t ready to take accountability for my own actions. At the time I wrote the words to this song the anger that was intertwined in those lyrics were supposedly directed at someone else. Because it was an easy way to let out those feelings that were threatening to erupt. But really every single one of them reflected the inner turmoil that I was caught up in. “The Game” that I was playing.

The truth was that I did need to be noticed. I did need to feel like I wasn’t invisible, and that the things that I had to say were not completely irrelevant. I was seeking validation from others because I was too insecure to embrace those feelings within myself. I was seeking encouragement because I lacked belief in myself. And when I had the slightest feeling that someone was interfering with my desperate need for acceptance and encouragement, then my temper flared. Writing “The Game” helped me to be able to release some of those feelings, even if I was not completely honest about where the feelings were originating from.

This week here are the questions that I pose to you:

What do you believe that your essential purpose is?

What are your beliefs?

Do your actions betray your beliefs? Or do you live what you believe?

Would all of the people in your life describe you the same, or would they all describe someone different?

My hope is that your answer to these questions are that there is no inner conflict inside you. I hope that you know and understand your beliefs - that you don’t betray them and that you live your life in such a way that you live what you believe.

But if you happen to be feeling some of the things that I was feeling so many years ago, then Matthew Kelly’s book, “Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness,” is a wonderful resource. And even if you are living your life according to your beliefs this book will still provide insight.

“Relationships do not cause pain and unhappiness. They bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

Purchase "The Seasons of Change" on Amazon.

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Recommended Reading: "Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness."

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