Being in alignment means taking action from a place of completeness rather than from a place of lack. It means making choices while connected with your bigger, more expansive self, rather than your smaller, more limited version.
Your indicator of this alignment is your emotions. When you feel ungrounded or dissatisfied, you’re living out of alignment. Jumping into action from that place simply means manifesting something that matches an incomplete, lower vibration.
It also means that the different parts of your mind are not working in synergy as one system. When this happens, it's very easy to veer off your path and start feeling like life is a treadmill, endlessly moving forward but getting nowhere fast. It’s very much like a car needing alignment: over time, the constant force it takes to drive straight increases wear and the potential to break down.
Put differently, alignment is key not only for moving forward on your path but also for your well-being, vitality, and—very importantly—enjoyment of life and its journey.
Which is more inspiring for you: being content, grounded, and aligned with your expanded version AND THEN taking action, or being unsatisfied, unsettled, and misaligned and taking action from that incomplete place?
In your view, which choice is more effective? attracts more opportunities? promotes better outcomes? has greater chances of succeeding?
Perhaps more importantly, what’s the point in delaying feeling contentment anyway…?
Think about it. The ultimate goal behind every goal you’ve ever set in your life was about feeling good. “I will lose 10 pounds,” “I will become financially free,” “I will find true love,”—all of these aspirational statements have one thing in common:we believe that these accomplishments will make us feel good.
But here’s the irony... If we work so hard to lose weight, to make money, to have a relationship, because we believe these things will bring us contentment down the road, why wait...? Why not align first? Why not prioritize contentment first, and then go after whatever it is we want?
Here’s my point: Aligning first is not only wiser, but it can also be a better plan of action.
When you’re impatient and jumping into action from a place of lack or incompleteness, then what you’re manifesting is something that matches a lower vibration. Contrarily, when contentment is prioritized, you stop focusing on things that you don’t want, things that do not feel good in your body. You simply let them go.
When that happens, your focus naturally shifts into inspiration. Because when you’re in alignment, you attract more inspiring thoughts, opportunities, and circumstances. You’re one with the expanded and complete version of yourself, and thus with your true wants and dreams.
Tapping into our Emotional GPS
Within each one of us, there’s a powerful emotional GPS. However, most of the time, we live “in our head.” We have a million thoughts running through our mind all day long. We constantly think about good and bad, right and wrong. We think about what is happening, about ourselves, about others, about the past and future… This stream of never-ending self-talk is constantly going on in our heads and, more often than not, it’s cluttered, noisy, and fragmented.
While monitoring and organizing our thoughts may be effective every now and then, constantly doing so can be time-consuming and quite challenging. As you know, random thoughts appear and fade at a moment’s notice.
Instead, it's far simpler to just be sensitive to the way we FEEL.
It’s very simple, really. Whenever you’re feeling content about something, you are aligned. Whenever you are feeling ungrounded, unsettled, and dissatisfied, you are not internally aligned. You are outside flow.
Here’s another way to look at it: Nothing in life—circumstances, situations, thoughts—are inherently “wrong” or “right”; there is only that which aligns with our system, and that which does not.
This is a key distinction. Often we judge and label certain feelings as bad. However, avoiding “negative” feelings (or pretending we don't feel the way we do) can divert us from important information.
ALL emotions—“negative” or “positive”—tell us something. There’s always a message within them. Instead of thinking we shouldn't feel a certain way, it's better to just notice how we actually FEEL, without the judgment.
Do we feel grounded, content, aligned...?
Or do we feel ungrounded, dissatisfied, misaligned...?
Stepping into Alignment
Whenever we feel misaligned, we have a choice: step into alignment or stay in our misalignment.
This is a choice, meaning we don’t have to make the shift—at least not right away.
Sometimes, our emotions are so strong that even the biggest and most conscious effort to align ourselves feels impossible. In these cases, creating more space and allowing things to flow in their own way and time may be the best approach. Remember, emotion (“e-motion”) is, simply, energy in motion. It will eventually pass if we allow it to flow.
In other less charged cases, it would be wiser to step into emotional alignment right away. And when I say “step into emotional alignment,” I don’t mean “forcing or suppressing emotions.” This will only bottle them up and lead to being attached (to “positivity” and only feeling good).
Stepping into emotional alignment is an art and a skill in and of itself, and there is more than one way for it to occur. Let's look in more detail at key steps for getting into alignment whenever you diverge.
STEP ONE: Awareness
Awareness is always the first step on the road to alignment. As mentioned previously, to build greater self-awareness, you want to focus on your emotions rather than just your thoughts (which are more scattered in nature). Your emotions are your best compass, your inner GPS, so to speak.
As you know, behind every emotion lies a thought—limiting or empowering—that triggers it. To make things simpler, whenever you’re feeling grounded and content, you are internally aligned. Whenever you are feeling unsettled and dissatisfied, you are out of alignment.
Here are a few ways to cultivate more emotional awareness:
- Paying extra attention to habits - Pick certain activities throughout your day to notice how you feel. When you eat, for example, you can use it as a mini-break to practice emotional awareness. Simply asking, “How do I feel right now?” is enough to enhance awareness. Daily activities that you can use as a practice include: waking up, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, journaling, meditating, opening your laptop, driving home, having or making breakfast / lunch / dinner, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, getting into bed before sleep. You get the point: make a habit of tuning in to how you FEEL at different points and in different situations throughout the day. You can either pick one daily routine and focus on it until it becomes a habit, or simply bring awareness each time you’re going into “Doing Mode.” All it requires is 5 seconds of your time—simply STOP and be aware.
- Paying attention to strong emotional charges - It’s much easier to notice emotions when the charge is strong. In those cases, the key is to accept the emotion and let the energy move. As mentioned previously, emotion is simply energy that wants to move (“e-motion”). More importantly, rather than judging it negatively, see it as an opportunity—an opportunity to shine light on your beliefs and the messages hidden within every feeling. Illuminating our emotionally charged reactions, painful stories, fears, and limiting beliefs is useful for inspiring expansion, growth, and change.
- Paying extra attention to body language - Often we are so disconnected from our emotions that we don’t even notice them. In those cases, pay attention to your body language. In particular, notice when you withdraw from people or things, especially when your movement is abrupt. Notice when your voice goes up a lot, if it’s intense, trembling, assertive, etc. Also, as soon as you tune into your body, notice the sensation: tightness in the chest, gritted teeth, tiredness behind your eyes, waves of heat, and so forth. Simply notice your response with acceptance and no self judgment. (More to come on this in the Acceptance section.)
- Paying extra attention to busyness - Most of us have an obsession with keeping busy. We often run around like ants who've lost their trail, pretending that if we pause for a moment, life will somehow fall apart. What we’re doing, in reality, is distracting ourselves from the real, big, and often scary questions. Questions like, "how do I really want spend my dying time on earth?" And so, next time you find yourself being overly-committed, out of sync, and busy for the sake of being busy, just pause for a moment and reflect on the meaning of what you do. Take a deep breath, and remember that life is not about how much we do, but the meaning and enjoyment we derive from what we do.
- Paying extra attention to language - Our emphasis here is to focus on emotions, however, every so often, you want to pay attention to the language you use. Start noticing where you are not taking responsibility for your feelings (e.g., “This made me unhappy”) and make a conscious effort to use more empowering language (e.g., “I create unhappiness because of this”). The reverse is also true. Aim to avoid taking responsibility for other people’s unhappiness or happiness (e.g., “I’m sorry I made you feel…”). You can still be sensitive and acknowledge someone’s feelings without taking ownership of them. Furthermore, pay extra attention to the “musts,” “need-tos,” “shoulds,” and “have-tos” in your vocabulary and see if you can replace them with “WANT TOs.”
- Paying extra attention to needs - We all have wants, ranging from material yearnings to deep emotional desires, such as acceptance, recognition, and freedom. However, more often than not, these wants are habitually elevated into needs—that is to say, we need to have fill-in-the-blank in order to be happy. As a result of this habitual cycle, life becomes one ceaseless quest to find happiness. We constantly search for the next fix. Things are never enough. Therefore, in the awareness stage, you want to start paying extra attention when you’re dissatisfied or disappointed. Potentially, there’s a need behind it. Our overall long-term goal is to transform some of these needs into wants and thereby untie the knot between what you are trying to achieve and contentment. Reversing the equation so to speak.
STEP TWO: Acceptance
Acceptance is the next step in our alignment process. Acceptance (vs. judgment and resistance) is the foundation of both inner contentment and aligned action. Fully accepting a challenging situation for what it is (as opposed to what it should be) allows us to be at peace with the emotions that may accompany it.
Judgment and resistance, on the other hand, can limit our view and box us into a narrow, labeled way of thinking. When we judge, we leave no room for the innate contentment that comes from accepting what is.
Now, acceptance does not mean giving in or putting an end to your goals and ambitions. Acceptance simply allows us to stop wishing for a different emotion or outcome and instead stir into action from a place of alignment. Put differently, it allows us to move forward powerfully on our journeys rather than remain stuck in a story.
Acceptance also does not mean tolerating a situation. When you tolerate something, there’s still a judgment and, thus, a negative emotion (which attracts more of what you don’t want). Acceptance means looking at the situation without resistance and responding from that more grounded place. You don’t have to compromise or tolerate anything that you don’t want to.
As you know, choosing acceptance instead of holding onto judgments is not always easy. It can be challenging at times. However, acceptance is like a muscle. With enough practice and determination, it will grow and become like second nature.
Acceptance, letting go of judgments, is within our control. We can decide to dismantle judgments that don’t serve us. We can let those judgments come and go without becoming attached to them as "facts." We can free ourselves from the stories and drama that so often control our lives. Remember, the secret to contentment and inner peace lies not in particular events but in what meaning we give to them.
Here are a few more key aspects that can help cultivate acceptance:
- Fully accepting yourself and others - Notice when you judge or disapprove of others. Your disapproval lies in disapproving a quality in yourself. Therefore, fully accepting yourself is the first step in accepting and appreciating others. Start observing yourself when you're with other people – Notice the judgments, the labels and comparisons, you make. Just notice—don't judge your judgments. The more you practice noticing your judgments and just letting them come and go without doing anything else, the less power you give to these judgments. It might take months, but eventually, you’ll start to feel more at peace within yourself and with the world. Additionally, accept the judgments of others. Allow people to say whatever they want. Remember, when others disapprove of you, it is not your lack; it is theirs.
- Notice resistance in your life because what you resist, persists. As you know, you attract with your thoughts. They are like powerful magnets. So when you resist something (an emotion, a person, a situation), you give it more attention, and therefore draw its experience into your life. For example, when you think loneliness and feel lonely, you attract more loneliness. Remember, your subconscious goes to work upon whatever you are mostly thinking about, whether you want it or not.
- Fully accept all of your emotions - All of them are OK; it’s how you think about them that makes them “bad” or “good.” Wherever a strong feeling arises, remember that it’s just energy. You don’t have to act on it. Simply let it pass through. The next second/minute/day, it changes anyway. Remember, if we deny our emotions (especially "negative" ones), we deny our options. Underneath every emotion, there's always a belief, a thought. We're usually not aware of these. By becoming aware of our beliefs, we have the power to create new options.
- Notice when you dwell on feelings - Let’s re-emphasize: negative feelings (and the thoughts that triggered them) aren’t bad in themselves, but when you dwell on them you’re cluttering your inner space and wasting precious energy. To say it simply, avoid judging your judgments, fearing your fears, and creating unhappiness about your unhappiness. The only reason our feelings linger is because of our own resistance and reactions to them. The problem isn’t the anger or fear; it’s how we perceive and react to those feelings. As mentioned previously, all feelings are temporary and serve as signals shooting from the depths of the subconscious mind, alerting us to pay attention to something. Anger, for example, arises when a boundary of yours has been crossed, when you believe you have been wronged. It’s an opportunity to look at it and potentially expand.
* Awareness and acceptance alone are often enough to find inner alignment within yourself. If not, you can assist the process using inner alignment.
STEP THREE: Alignment
Inner alignment means consciously paying attention, in the present moment, in a nonjudgmental way, to whatever it is that you're feeling. And from that nonjudgmental way, aligning with your more expansive self, reminding yourself of the bigger picture.
Alignment is simply a process of reminding ourselves of some simple truths we may have forgotten.
Remember, your feelings and the demanding voice in your head are not who YOU are. They play a part (most of them are simply habitual mind patterns), but there’s so much more to YOU than your feelings and thoughts.
Furthermore, alignment is not that complicated. In fact, we do it all the time without realizing it. Our intention here is simply to do it more consciously rather than let our old automated programming and its limiting beliefs derail us off our path and only wake up when there’s a crisis.
Here’s the thing: our life is mostly on auto-pilot; we do a zillion activities without having to think about them. On its own, this is not bad; it conserves energy. However, the problem is that without awareness, every so often, the decisions you make and the conclusions you arrive at (especially when feeling heightened emotions) are based on programming, and mostly limited programming. More importantly, without awareness, there is no Being, no magic. You miss most of your life just going from one automatic habit to the next.
To say it in another way, we want to become more attentive to our life, to our feelings and emotions, and the patterns that show up, rather than simply getting through. This does not mean you’re in “space mode” all day. You still go after your dreams, you still do and accomplish, but you do it from an aligned, grounded space. You let “Being” and “Doing” work together.
With this in mind, let’s look at some ways to align internally. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s important that you take what resonates most with you.
- Create space by reminding yourself: “This, Too, Shall Pass” - Once you’re aware of your feelings and accept them for what they are, it’s essential to create space and disconnect the complete identification you may experience with them. Instead of fully identifying with your feelings and thoughts, you simply see them as partial aspects of yourself. To do so, you can simply take a deep breath and say to yourself, “This, too, shall pass.” You won’t immediately snap out of anger or deep satisfaction, but you’ll give yourself that space to reconnect to your inner compass. With this space and distancing, you’re creating an alignment process. When you stand back and just watch your feelings, you find yourself more grounded and clearer.
- Shift priorities by reminding yourself, “Contentment First” - From a more spacious place, you can remind yourself of the wisdom in aligning and prioritizing contentment. As mentioned before, the key word is “Prioritizing.” You don’t want to force contentment but simply remind yourself of its priority level and purpose. (Although this sounds rather obvious, rarely do we put our contentment as a priority.) Remind yourself that there is very little point to delaying contentment. Most often that not, we go after things in life because we believe they will make us feel good. We work so hard to lose weight, to make money, to have a relationship, because we believe these things will bring us contentment down the road. Therefore, why wait...? Why not align and prioritize contentment first and THEN go after whatever it is we want. Alignment is where we remind ourselves of this.
- Shift perspective by reminding yourself what you’re grateful for - We can't fully control certain events in our lives, but we can always adjust our perspective. In each and every moment, as long as we are present and aware, we can choose to pick different lenses through which to view the world. Choose to see the glass half full, and you’ll experience challenges as opportunities and develop a deep appreciation for what you already have. Choose to see the glass half empty, and you’ll be the person who complains, blames, and takes no accountability for the life they have. As you already know, this can be challenging—it’s not easy to give up the stories you tell yourself. But once again, all big things start with one single step, and the best place to start is by ritualizing the perspective of gratitude. From my experience, an ongoing attitude of gratefulness is the single most reliable way to create sustainable inner-alignment. No matter how challenging or difficult your day may seem, there is always at least one thing that you can be grateful for: The ability to smell, touch, taste, hear, see, feel... The wonders of nature: sunrise, sunset, rainbow, sunny day, rainy day… The comforts of home: warm shower, cozy bed, hot tea… Even your difficulties and challenges can be a source of gratitude: their lessons, making important realizations, getting stronger, more aligned, more anchored in truth.
- Shift into the present through the breath - Reminding yourself what you’re grateful for may not be enough. Because the mind likes to find solutions and solve problems (some imaginary ones), it may keep dragging you back to what’s lacking. When this happens, bring your focus back to either one of the senses or to your breath, as it’s always there. When you’re in the NOW, when you're completely focused on your breath, when you take in and release, you’re starting an alignment process—you're integrating body, mind and soul. And when you notice you are lost again in thoughts, simply return your attention to the breath once again. To quote Jon Kabat-Zinn, if your mind wanders 1000 times, your only job is to bring it back 1000 times. Bringing it back is what’s important…In this context, make sure you treat your mind with respect. Don't fight your mind and its constant chatter, but rather accept and understand it for what it is. You want to tame it, but calmly, gently, like it’s your best friend. If you’re overly self-critical and demanding, it will only resist, and, as you know what resists, persists. Similarly, treat others and their point of view with respect. You don’t have to agree with somebody, but aim to bring kindness and empathy to an argument. It’s not always easy, but like anything, with enough practice over time, it becomes easier.
- [OPTIONAL] Outer Alignment -When inner alignment does not happen (and only then...), you may want to engage in what I call outer alignment, which is is engaging in soothing activities to ground yourself. For example, taking a shower, soaking іn а hot bath, journaling about your feelings, drawing, painting or coloring, taking some time to pet your dog, biking, running or skipping around, meditating, practicing gentle yoga, taking а walk, listening to relaxing music, or reading (for pleasure).
I consider the last point as an optional step because inner alignment is superior to an alignment produced by an activity. There’s less dependency with inner alignment, and you can engage in it anywhere and anytime.
Deciphering the Emotional Content
Alignment helps us to listen to the larger truth that exists within us. This means that once we feel more aligned and grounded, we have the ability to better understand our emotions and be more mindful of our intuition and the possible action it calls us to take.
Previously, we discussed how intuition is a brilliant resource. It is fast, effortless, and not based on weighing every ounce of evidence. However, we also mentioned that what we sometimes perceive as intuition is actually an emotional reptilian brain response.
In other words, a feeling could very much be the result of a limiting belief and old programming rather than an intuitive message. Because all emotional brain responses are fast and informative, we are tempted to replace reasoned thinking with what “feels right” at every fork in the road.
As mentioned in the decision-making exercise last week, if there's a strong emotional charge with your thought, it's most likely fear and the result of a limiting belief. Intuition is a place of grounded expansiveness: vibrant but settled at the same time.
Put differently, even if your intuition is about something you perceive as “negative,” surprising, or does not make sense, it will come across as being delivered in a grounded tone. Genuine intuitive guidance comes from a settled place and the knowledge that you are COMPLETE and secure as you are NOW.
This is not to say that a “reptilian brain response” is not useful. On the contrary, there’s a message in every feeling. Shedding light on our emotionally charged reactions, painful stories, fears, and limiting beliefs is useful for inspiring expansion, growth, and change.
However, from the context of intuitive decision-making and taking action, we may want to consider creating more space and delaying action until we feel more grounded and calm, especially with big life decisions.
* In this context, your mantra could be: Space or Aligned YES. Meaning Alignment First, and THEN whatever it is you feel called to do. In other words, if you are called to action but find yourself ungrounded, dissatisfied, resisting, second-guessing, you’re not in alignment.
What We DO Want
Often we align from a place of knowing what we do not want. We make a clear statement of what we do not desire, but forget to align with what we actually want. By doing so, without even intending to, we attract more of the old.
For example, let’s say we feel disappointed about a friend who was incredibly selfish. From that lower vibrational place, our sole focus is not attracting selfish people into our life. Our entire attention is on what we don’t want, and therefore, our intention is set from a place of lack and insecurity.
A wiser approach would be to align— to feel expansive, grounded, and safe— within ourselves and clearly communicate to ourselves what we DO want.
Being clear is important. The clearer we are about what we want from life and how we are prepared to get it, the clearer our thinking, and the more likely we are to manifest our wants.
Remember, whether you’re dwelling on what you DO want or whether you’re dwelling on the lack of what you want (i.e., what you don’t want...), the subconscious goes to work upon whatever you are mostly thinking about.
Taking Full Emotional Ownership
As discussed before, whether you are aware of it or not, your conscious and subconscious thoughts are attracting and literally creating your reality (and the experience of that reality).
Once you’re aware and take complete ownership of the fact that people, situations, and circumstances are invited into your experience by you, through your thoughts (conscious or subconscious), you will begin to pay more attention to the way that you are feeling.
This is a process. It may take time, practice, and lots of repetition to align yourself energetically and become more deliberate about the life you create.
Why Weren’t We Taught Alignment?
Most of us, through years of conditioning, have learned to block feelings and the inner voice that comes from the more powerful aspects of our consciousness.
Which begs the question: Why? Why weren’t we taught to listen more deeply to ourselves? Why weren't we taught alignment? Why weren’t we taught to pursue things FROM a place of contentment rather than FOR contentment?
Here’s a possible reason: Our entire consumerist economy may be threatened. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to sell stuff (not just physical things, but ideology as well) to dissatisfied, distracted people. And...it’s easier to sell distractions.
Alignment is key for reversing this programining. When a person listens deeply within themselves, the “this product makes me feel good...” belief becomes a thing of the past. They come to know themselves as the sole creator of their feelings—not the product, another person, or anything else outside of themselves.
Put differently, if we want to become not only more content but also more powerful, this becomes much easier by bringing attention to our feelings and inner voice. And as mentioned previously, the more we learn to pay attention to our inner voice, the more we learn to trust it.
Remember, the key to alignment is truly wanting alignment. And not just truly wanting it, wanting it before anything else— before any achievement, outcome, or result. The way I see it, feeling aligned and then taking action from that state of natural Well-Being is not only wise but also effective. This is because in finding alignment, you find the thoughts and feelings that attract outcomes in line with creating thelife you want. What’s more, the action you’ll take is much more satisfying. Action that is taken from an aligned state is joyful and often effortless. When you identify these misalignments, accept them. Remember, acceptance and awareness are always the first step.
* To gain more inspiration and motivation for your personal growth journey, I recommend visiting my SMART goals page, which offers a wide range of goal ideas to help you establish new aspirations and achieve greater success in life. This list was crucial in the development of my own life goals list, consisting of 100 goals that I pursued for ten years.
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.