Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Mating

How to Become Aligned with Life

People may see what does and doesn’t provide fulfillment by looking inward.

Key points

  • The need to control things in life often stems from either desire or fear.
  • People can find alignment through friendships, daily habits, volunteer work, and other places.
  • Achieving alignment hinges on self-reflection and exploring different paths.
Photo by Annemiek Smegen on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Annemiek Smegen on Unsplash

We all desire to have control over many aspects of our lives. It’s human nature. When life isn’t going as planned, we may want to change things so that it goes the way we intended. But, if you’ve lived long enough, you know that life doesn’t work that way. In some respects, it’s more difficult to control our life than to simply flow and align with it.

Today, I am challenging you to rewire that desire for control and replace it with a desire for alignment. Let’s dig deeper into this.

I believe that our need for control stems from either desire or fear. For example, if we grew up in poverty and we didn’t like how we were treated by others because of this, in an act of control, we may try to earn as much money as possible to avoid putting ourselves in a similar situation. It’s extremely common for people who did not have much control growing up to desire that control as adults.

Alignment, on the other hand, isn’t about being in control, per se. It’s about flowing with who you are. For example, you are currently single, but you would like a partner. The desire to find a partner means you are craving control, specifically over your love life. So, you put yourself out there and end up dating someone who fills that void. After dating for a few months, you start to ask yourself, is this someone I can really spend my life with, or am I just settling?

I believe that this is a common situation many people find themselves in, and the reason being is we seek control over our lives but we don’t seek a sense of alignment or harmony with ourselves. In this specific scenario, we’ve allowed our desire to find a partner to outweigh our desire to be in alignment with ourselves.

When we’re in alignment, we flow with life. Let’s say you experience a lot of pressure from your family to go to college and get a good degree. As a result, you study medicine, but you quickly discover that you really don’t enjoy those classes. You do, however, have an elective in art that you love and always look forward to. Even though you know that you like the art class more than the science ones, you still have that voice inside your head telling you that business classes will get you further in life and help you pay the bills someday. In other words, you conflict your head and your heart.

To be aligned with ourselves simply means to listen. If you have a strong, visceral reaction to something telling you, “I don’t like this,” listen to it! When you find something that energizes you and makes you happy, listen to that information as well.

Recently for my birthday, I went hot air ballooning. I struck up a conversation with the people who controlled the balloon and asked how they got into it. One thing they all had in common was that they were all passionate about hot air ballooning. It was in alignment because it sparked joy for them. The reasons that they liked the job varied across the departments. The crew, for example, liked the idea of doing this job that they loved and finishing their workday before lunchtime. The company's boss loved what he did but also enjoyed the financial security that came from the job.

We can be in alignment in many different ways. I personally love traveling to look at art from different countries, but I have no interest in becoming a painter. I enjoy looking at art much more than creating it.

How do we find our alignment?

Let me pose you a different question–how would you uncover a stranger’s alignment? You would spend time with them, ask them questions, and have them try out different things. It’s the same thing with ourselves. It’s important to explore different avenues and see which one sticks or calls to us. Once we find something that we like, we can take the next step and see if this is something worth pursuing, and sometimes the answer is no, which is also okay!

Again, alignment is about listening. Is this giving me energy? Is this bringing joy? Does this feel like something I genuinely like, or is it something I just want to be in control of? This process may take some time, and becoming more aligned with our inner selves won’t happen overnight.

For example, I have a friend who is a teacher that loves nature. He made a goal to spend more time in nature and make that happen; he didn’t work as a teacher during the summers like he normally did. Instead, he got a job at the National Parks Service. During the school year, he took courses on park management and forestry, and a couple of years later, he shifted his career entirely and is much happier. He is now in alignment.

Outside of our career choices, there are so many different ways to be in alignment with our lives. We can find alignment through our friendships, our daily habits, where we volunteer, and the list goes on. The first step in finding alignment is simply listening to yourself. And when you’ve found that ‘this feels right’ feeling, it’s important to remember that things don’t always go as planned because some things are out of our control. But again, we’re not striving for control. Once we strive solely for alignment, it’s okay when things don’t go according to plan. Because I believe when we align with our hearts, the whole universe conspires to help us.

One last thing to remember is that life is never stagnant. Our plans get canceled, we get broken up with, our bodies change, and we discover new passions. Let’s say you’ve spent most of your life running, but now in your 50s, your body can no longer handle that level of activity. You can continue pushing your body past its limit or find a new form of exercise that is equally fulfilling. When plans change, we tend to look at this as a negative. Instead, I challenge you to look at it as an opportunity.

Once we let go of the things we’re not in control of, doors you never knew were there will open. And I know that things won’t always work out the way we expected or planned, but what if we asked ourselves what new adventures are before me now that I’m on a different path?

Lastly, finding our alignment starts and ends with listening to our hearts and bodies. When we look inward, we can gather so much vital information about ourselves and what fulfills us and what doesn’t. Then we can use that information and steer our energy towards the things that bring us peace and happiness. When we find that level of alignment with ourselves, the world becomes a happier and better place.

advertisement
More from Robert Puff Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today