What happens when you smile just to be polite, or you say “Yes,” when you really mean “No”? Or you say you like something when the exact opposite is true?

The result is that your internal self clashes with your external behavior, and tension is what results. This tension may manifest as aches and pains in your body, or it might lead to tense thoughts, such as “I should have…” or “I wish I hadn’t…” Other implications can be extreme exhaustion, fatigue, and/or the desire to escape the tension through various substances (food, alcohol, drugs) or behavior (sex, gambling, purging).

“Living in alignment” may seem like an empty phrase, but it really means living in a way where your internal self is synchronized with your external self.

Here’s a small example: a wife asks her husband, “Do you want to rake the leaves outside?” He really doesn’t, but he knows it’s important to her so he says, “Sure.” His internal self is saying, “No, I absolutely don’t want to rake the leaves!” and yet his mouth just agreed that he wanted to. A more honest and aligned answer on his part might be, “No, I don’t want to do it, but I know how important it is to you, so I will.” He can feel in this instance that his communication has integrity and he is being fully himself, rather than pretending he wants to do something that he doesn’t. The end result is the same in both cases (the leaves get raked), and one response feels spacious while the other creates tension.

How many times a day do your insides clash with your outsides? Just notice without judgment and see whether you can recognize the impact it has on you. What feelings come up when you think about “living in alignment”?

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