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  • Clara Mei

Guardrails and Guideposts: Guidance for Authentic Living

In my life of learning how to live a life that reflects my Truths and to speak from a place that expresses my authentic voice, I’m learning to heed the signs of guardrails and guideposts.

As many of us are going through a big time of transition in many areas of life—forced on by the pandemic, or what has come out that had been hidden by distraction—I also have been in a stage of BIG integration. I’ve been following the lead of my inner voice and slowly surrendering to Its calling while also trying to live life in a way that feels doable, in this seemingly impossible world these days. And it seems that as I am striving to be more and more authentic in my self-expression, that there are times when I feel like I’m on the right track and times when I’m not so sure.

The tricky thing is that when I feel this confusion, it’s usually because the first action or experience was from a place of truth. So, I’ve asked myself: “how do I know if I should take action or not?”; “how do I know if this is my truth or not?”

After some reflection and discussion with a wise friend it seems looking for “guardrails” and “guideposts” is one way to navigate these confusions and challenges. As you will see in the examples I discuss, guardrails are sort of like warnings to not continue. Whereas guideposts are there to affirm you are on the right track and to keep going.

My latest “guardrail” came to me in the form of a respondent to an article I had published. Writing this post was a form of self-expression that I felt very grounded about. I felt good about expressing my authentic voice, as well as speaking for others who may not have the opportunity. I got a lot of good feedback and was glad I had published the article. But then came “that” respondent who really got my goat! At first, I responded quite diplomatically and helpfully-staying in my truth. Step taken, good- let’s move on.

But then he responded to someone else who was responding (in support of me), and then that’s when I lost it—at least internally…well and also my husband got a moody wife for the next couple of hours. The battle going on inside of me was between my Soul, which was saying, “leave it alone”, and my ego, which was saying: “but he’s wrong, and I need to show him how!”

Now of course, receiving negative comments is just part of publishing. But in the context of learning how to navigate challenges that arise when I speak my truth, I knew better than to just disregard what was coming up for me. I paused and asked myself: “How do I know if I should respond?”

In reflection, the guardrail that arose for me was: agitation to engage in something that had, 1) nothing to do with me—it was about the respondent himself, and 2) was not a person I was trying to speak to or represent in the first place; i.e. he didn’t deserve my truth telling. And so in the end, in first my action of authenticity to publish was further guided to this guardrail, which directed me to inaction- to not go further; to not respond to this person. Full stop, no explanation needed…And so I didn't--and a few days later, it feels great!

On the other hand, the "guidepost" signs, I’ve realized have had a much different feeling- even though it’s the same call to practice authenticity. In this example there were two guideposts that arose to help me through what I was navigating simultaneously.

As I mentioned I’ve been in a big time of integration—and one of those integrations taking place is my spiritual life. The ins-and-outs of my journey to get to where I am now would probably fill half of novel, but what I wanted to mention here, is that most recently I am trying to be intentional to listen to that voice of being authentic and living my Truth.

My most recent spiritual journey especially, the last 2-3 years- and more so the last year has come with a lot of confusion, despair, disbelief, and grief. At first, I would have thought these emotions would be guardrails—a warning to stay away because of all the discomfort and sadness it caused. But here’s the thing, because my seeking had actually started off from a place of authenticity, I had trusted just ENOUGH to allow myself to sit with all the “yuck.”

And what came out of it, or evolved, was definitely growth and I might even say some wisdom. There was a sense of openness and clarity, that I can reflect on that was indeed a guidepost for me. That guidepost was: an offering to know and understand at a deeper and even more loving way.

Now as it were, another level of this particular journey is that because I am also a mother to an 11 and 13 year-old, and a wife in a caring home—I have had to grapple with how to practice navigating this very personal spiritual authenticity with my family spiritual practice. And so the internal cloudiness I was feeling came with the question: how do I know what is authentic and what is a compromise to my first guidepost?

As I lived out both my personal spiritual practice and my family spiritual practice, I realized that guidepost two came: my family practice is in alignment with my personal practice and both spiritual practices are providing growth and clarity.

And so in reflection, I was able to understand that these confusions, stemming again from an authentic place of self-expression, was this time a guidepost. In contrast to the guardrail that was telling me to stop, this guidepost was directing me to keep going.

I know some of you reading this may be dealing with a much starker contrast in your journey with authenticity. Such that your personal beliefs and growth, and what your family is practicing are much different. And I really empathize with that struggle. What I can offer, having gone through a similar struggle in other contexts, and being a part of conversations in which this issue was specifically discussed—is to take things slowly! Allow for the changes you are going through- whatever they may be—to settle within yourself before you navigate

speaking and being in your new truths. And just by allowing the integration to happen is a huge step towards authenticity. The kind of authenticity your Soul is searching for. If you’re needing some extra guidance or support recognizing your guideposts and guardrails please reach out:

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