Does living in alignment make you an extremist?
Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a friend about what we choose to share, support or promote on social media. Often I’m asked about how I do certain things or what kind of products I use, and I believe I have a responsibility to support and promote products and people who are in alignment with what I stand for and what matters most to me.
My friend made the point that she didn’t want to live in a bubble. Meaning, if you’re going to live in this world, there are times when it’s not possible to live fully in alignment with your core values. You have to be willing to compromise or you might end up acting like an extremist living in a bubble.
I gave this idea a lot of thought. And I realized that in my life I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. Many times. Until I chose to practice extreme mindfulness.
Let me explain.
When I discovered Naturopathy (in 2007) and alternative ways of taking care of my body, I became an activist. I was leading a 100% raw food lifestyle. So did my children. So did the people who came over to my house. I wanted everyone to be healthy, no matter what. I would get angry at people who would use cosmetics that had been tested on animals. I would make my own cleaning products and wanted everyone to do the same. I was constantly advocating healthy choices to someone and was very defensive with people.
I felt constantly judged for making extreme choices. The reality was I was the one being judgmental by judging those who weren’t walking the health conscious path along with me.
Then we moved to China, where all my health conscious choices were challenged by a whole nation addicted to chemicals and reality TV. One day, my daughter who was 6 at that time told me she stopped talking to her friend because she ate meat. That was the shock I needed.
But like many other human beings, breaking with an old pattern wasn’t enough, I needed to experience a 180° rotation.
So I started to live in a paradox. I was on my way to becoming a certified health coach. I was unhappy in my marriage, frustrated as a mother, I didn’t like living in China and once I graduated, I ended up working with corporate clients in a medical practice in Hong Kong. Not quite the kind of freedom I wanted for myself.
I had so many reasons to look for distractions and comfort outside of myself. I, too, started to think I shouldn’t live in a bubble. The world was the way it was, I thought. Who cares if I use organic natural cosmetics or if there are a tiny bit of chemicals in it? They were going to sell the animal-tested lipstick anyway, so why not use them? At least I was aware.
I would party hard into the morning (alcohol abuse included) and then rush to the yoga studio to find balance again. For sure I knew there was something wrong with drinking a daily green juice while flicking a cigarette.
The truth is that there’s a very thin line between being an advocate, an idealist and being an extremist. Sometimes, walking this line can feel a little bit like tightrope walking. Without a net.
But I know first hand what it can cost to compromise your inner moral compass. It’s not just about what other people think of you when you don’t walk your talk. It’s how you feel about yourself.
You can’t compromise your soul for too long. It will take its toll on you and your ability to see your own value. It will make you feel guilty and like a fraud. Using excuses and reasons for not honoring what you think is fundamentally right is just plain self-sabotage.
I had to look at my life and bring alignment back into the picture because I felt miserable, and I was convinced I didn’t deserve to succeed or expand. I had to point my inner compass back North again. But it had to be different because I didn’t want to be called an extremist again. I knew I had to walk my talk in a way that felt good to me. If I had to do it on a thin line, so be it. I knew I needed different tools to strengthen my balance skills.
The best way for me to do that was to practice extreme mindfulness.
Extreme mindfulness is when you get ridiculously clear about who you are, what motivates you, the emotions you feel and how you allow these emotions to impact you. No matter how extreme your choices are, it’s how they are aligned with your core values that matters. It’s about how it makes you feel. It’s about stepping out of denial and avoidance and having the courage to look at what you want, your core values and make the decision to align your behavior with them.
Living mindfully, in alignment with yourself won’t make you an extremist. Neither will your lifestyle choices. They may look extreme for some or pointless for others. It is also a difficult process rooted in lucidity. It requires vulnerability and faith in the fact it won’t destroy you. It demands that you declutter old patterns, habits, and excuses. It requires that you observe where you are being flexible and where you’re compromising. It is a calling for meaning, truth, and trust.
You owe it to yourself to be real and raw. Your soul wants to be given permission to shine and this won’t happen by compromising with your core values. But when you align with your soul’s calling unconditionally, you give yourself permission for growth, inspired action and happiness.
Extreme mindfulness could never make me an extremist. Because when you honor your soul’s demands you are also able to honor the same process in others, no matter how extreme their choices may look. Tolerance is built on this.
So living in alignment won’t make you an extremist, it might even prevent you from becoming one.
Do what feels good, be proud of it, inspire others to find the strength to align and thrive.
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Do you find it hard to stay in alignment or does it make your life easier?
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