One of the things we long for is consistency of character. We want to be the same person, through and through. Sounds easy enough. But it isn’t.
The weight of circumstance drifts us to and fro like the rip of a tide. Blown by the wind and tossed by the waves, it is hard to keep our footing in an ever-changing landscape of challenges, triumphs, and trials.
The reason for our inconsistencies are the uneven terrains of life. At one moment, things will elevate us and at another they will cast us aside.
But we are not a slave to our circumstances. We are not victims to the external forces of this world. We still have a choice to make.
The choices we make don’t always alleviate suffering or eliminate challenges. At least not in the traditional sense. The best thing for our circumstance is to put them in their proper place. We have to weigh them properly. This does not mean dismissing circumstance; that is going too far in the other direction. What it means is that we acknowledge them, feel their weight, accept their consequences accurately and within context.
The first step to being consistent is to know truly who you are. This sounds much easier than it is. Most of us are further away from true self-awareness than we think. We are so good at deceiving ourselves. We have developed patterns and defense mechanisms that keep even our own consciousness from understanding the truth about who we are and what motivates our actions.
A deep dive into assessing the values that really matter to us (not just the ones we wish matter or the ones we think ought to matter) will help us understand what truly makes us tick. Our inconsistency is not because the circumstances are crazy but because our surety of self is unstable. The circumstances provide the perfect excuse to nudge us off our perch. For we are never fully certain we are perched right in the first place.
Self-awareness comes through the hard work of introspection. It takes time and honest reflection, asking ourselves what really matters to us and why. This can be a frightening journey because it exposes us; we have to strip down to a vulnerable state to ask these questions of our soul. And this feels dangerous. We’re less protected, less buffered.
However, this is a necessary reality of consistency. We need to step into vulnerability in order to find what truly makes us come alive.
Once we’ve discovered the truth of who we are and what we value, the difficult task is to make choices that are consistent with it.
By naming our vision and values, we give ourselves a rallying cry. We put a slogan to our motivation. The opinion of others, cultural trends, and self-talk all serve to sway us in varying directions. The only way to neutralize those weights is to take the more powerful step of naming who we are. By doing so, we provide a foundation we are more likely to commit to as the tides shift.
Making hard choices never gets easier. The voices never fully subside. Circumstance will always surprise, delight, and frustrate us. But with a proper vision, an epiphany of revelation concerning our true values we are better set up for consistency. All that is left is the courage to make our choices.