The Importance of Resetting Your Inner Compass and How to Do It
Monday April 25, 2022

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“Learning to trust in your own inner compass, we can set a course for a life that we wish to lead. We no longer feel obliged to chase a hand-me-down version of aspiration from others that we feel no deep connection . . . ” —Carl Phillips of Frictionless Living

Often the yearnings within us contain a desire for something we did not understand we needed to lead us to a life where true contentment can be found.

As many of TSLL community knows, I just returned from traveling abroad to Paris and then to England, both London and the English countryside in Kent. With a gap of nearly three years since last spending time in France and over four years since I last arrived in England, the yearning has only intensified since 2020 when I knew it would be some time before travel would be allowed to either of my two most beloved destinations.

However, true to the point mentioned above, I didn’t realize fully and entirely why I held such a yearning . . . until I arrived home after having had the opportunity to finally return to both countries.

Similar to a car gradually going out of alignment after a significant unwanted event that ever so slightly changes how the wheels roll, as time passes following the incident, we don’t notice it is taking us off course because for some time we can still ‘see’ where we wish to be heading. However, the truth is, we are slowly but surely drifting further and further away from where we thought we were going.

A frequent and foundational part of living simply luxuriously is strengthening our awareness so that we are able to discern when we are being conditioned or lead astray, away from our true selves, away from our integrity of living in such a way that enables us to be fulfilled while also giving to the world what we can uniquely bring. As longtime reader of TSLL blog Angela recently shared with me, living a conscious life while difficult initially, is a constant conscious choice and the result of doing so is life changing and most rewarding. Once living consciously becomes a healthy habit in our lives, we choose differently, engage differently, spend our time and our money and our attention differently and thus we live a more beautiful life that may only make sense to us, but that is at the heart of it all, the most important compass to tend to.

If we do not recalibrate our inner compass to lead us where we sincerely want to go, there will be a constant feeling of lack, an ache that often can be described as missing something even though you do not know what it is. And the good news is, contrarily, when our inner compass is in alignment with our true selves, there will not be a feeling of lack; there will be instead a feeling of fulfillment, of peace, of steadiness, and the ache will be replaced by a blanketing joy.

So how do we do it? How do we reset our inner compass?

1. We step away from the world that currently surrounds us that has gradually, and perhaps unknowingly, been leading us off track

Now you may be saying, if it is unknown, how will I know what to step away from? Fair question, but all you have to do is ask yourself is, Do you feel an ache that will not leave? Do you feel as though something is lacking and this feeling will not go away? Often when we feel lack, the culture we surround ourselves with will try to fill that void of lack with ‘something’ – an item to buy, a relationship, more of something you either already have or have been told you should have, but don’t. However, and most likely, we have tried heeding such advice and still we feel the lacking, the aching. All of this is to say, you need to step away from the world that surrounds you.

Yet again, you may be saying, how can I do that? I have responsibilities, I have a job, a family, etc., etc. What has to be priority to you is a solving, an assuaging of the ache, of the lacking. Whether you take a full weekend and spend it only in your own company at your place of resident or at a place where you can have peace to just follow your curiosities, rest your being, take naps as you need them, sleep for as long as you need, give yourself this gift. Yes, you can also take a holiday or vacation and get away entirely, but if you take a holiday, make sure you are indeed stepping away from the world that surrounds you in your everyday life and not just stepping into a different version of it.

When you have courageously stepped away, hold yourself in the present as much as possible and just be. Observe how your being feels, observe where your mind goes and instead of following, ask why. Is it traveling to these places out of doubt and worry or wonder and curiosity? Explore where each feeling is rooted and determine if it is a conditioned response or if it is because something inside yearns to find out more?

Be brave enough to explore and find out more because often you will find a truth that will realign your inner compass to lead you to a deep, grounding peace of mind.

2. Become a student of your brain and thus change how your mind works

I encourage you to listen to episode #327 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast because item #1 above will only work if you understand and have control of your mind. If you do not, you will return or confirm what has been conditioning you, yet not satisfying you and you will return to a dissatisfied way of life and assume that is all that life can be.

3. Be gentle with yourself

At first what you will find will resonate with you like an electric current, but you may not know how to bring that energy regularly into your life. At this point you know what you were yearning for, but confusion resides in the not knowing how to welcoming it into your life. Figuring out the latter will take time and it may take months or years, but knowing what you want, or should I say need, is resetting your compass to head in the right direction for you, for your true self.

Be patient during this time of trying to figure out how to cultivate a life that harmonizes with your yearnings. At the moment when you first discover the ‘what’ you will not know the ‘how’, but the first step of discovery is significant. Do not dismiss it simply because you cannot figure out the ‘recipe’.

The gentleness I encourage you to give yourself involves the patience to simply live with an open mind and heart and observe what crosses your path as you go about your days, being truly who you are without expectations and gradually and intentionally living a life in which you love your everydays. The magic has begun to work in your favor, but it will take time.

~Read these posts about savoring the everyday and creating rituals and routines that you enjoy and that will elevate your life.

4. Live with intention

As you begin to gradually understand what you yearn for and why you yearn for it, write your discoveries down. Why? You may think you will remember why you are making the changes you will be making, but there will be times you are so engrossed with what you are doing, only to run up against a road block or a nay-sayer, and you will want to return to your journal (or wherever you wrote down your discoveries) to ground yourself. The grounding reminds you of how you felt prior to your discoveries and why you are making the change.

The good news about resetting your inner compass and beginning to make these positive changes in your life is that all that is being let go that did not align with your true self is easily forgotten. We forget how painful it was to be dismissed, to be shamed or made to feel guilty for simply doing what came naturally from within by those who will never understand and may not want to understand as they want to control or have not found peace themselves. We need to write those old feeling down so that we never forget why we are making the changes, and thus never return to them even when others want us to.

How my Inner Compass is Resetting

Over this past weekend as jetlag slowly began to ebb, I began making my list of intentional changes and why the changes need to happen. You see upon returning to England most specifically, I saw the guiding inspiration for my home décor, I felt the energy gifted by the birdsong and the natural world as I wandered about the gardens and countryside, sitting in weathered adirondacks with a book, closing my eyes and not caring a stitch about time. During the past two years, with all of the customizations taking place in my home I had a vision of what this house, Le Papillon, could be. And while my contractors did a wonderful job, they no more understood what English country was than . . . well, they just hadn’t created such spaces here in Bend, but I held firm. However, that holding firm expended an abundance of energy, more energy than I realized to hold my vision in my mind, explaining it as the project moved forward, repeatedly, yet clearly. Equally, my slower pace of life, my routines and rituals – so many shared here on TSLL over the years, my joy in the everyday, the garden, etc. is also not something many in Bend similarly do, and while it was easy during the pandemic to savor this pace without explanation, as life gradually begins to return to what we many would like it to be, I am seeking ways of how to not have to expend my energy unnecessarily, letting go of what others think and simply savoring this life.

However, the trip also confirmed so much of what I have intentionally tried to build which included bravely ending some chapters in order to begin new chapters to seemingly simple approaches to bringing deliciousness into the everyday – the appreciation of fresh, seasonal food, experimenting in the kitchen, and thus either growing what I can in my own garden or letting go of recipes and instead visiting the market to see what is available and in-season and then acquiring the skills to create something delicious when I return home. As well, from honoring what I feel most comfortable in when it comes to my clothing and most importantly how I feel most comfortable in my skin, thus letting go of what society tells us women should worry about – adhering to sartorial trends incessantly, stressing about fitting into the most svelte size, feeling chastised whether we are a mother or if we not and told unconsciously (or consciously) we should feel guilty constantly for either choice and if not, we should be ashamed for not feeling so – to instead making room, time and energy to focus on what matters far more and brings and reinforces a life of true contentment.

And so it was with this most recent trip, a trip I long yearned for, for reasons even I didn’t realize needed to be discovered and understood, that my inner compass has begun to be reset as well as more grounded resolutely. And I am oh so grateful for the realignment, to correct what had been pulled off course and for the confirmation of what was on track, for the grounding and resetting in the correct direction to best honor my true self, more so than I have ever been before.

May you too begin to reset your inner compass if you find yourself unceasingly aching, no matter how seemingly small, or yearning for something you cannot explain. For more specific ideas for trusting your Inner Compass, be sure to read this post from the archives which shares 9 Ways to Trust Your Inner Compass. The peace and steady calm you will discover will be worth the fraught feelings of quandary you may feel at the moment. They are only temporary if you choose to explore where your curiosity leads.

Wishing you a wonderful start to the final week in April. Bonne journée.


6 thoughts on “The Importance of Resetting Your Inner Compass and How to Do It

  1. I just returned from a trip to Italy where I spent a few days on Lake Garda, the largest of the Italian lakes. The little lakeside villages, which were all reachable by ferry, were a reawakening of my love for the colors (sienna toned buildings, terracotta red tile roofs, the greenery and flowers) and the special sunlight of Italy and Southern France.
    It was my first big trip after more than two years of pandemic induced staying close to home. The trip was like comfort food that hasn’t been available for a long, long time.

    I love your blog, Shannon. It gives me those comforting feeling too!

    1. So happy you were able to take what sounds like a trip that awoken the senses and delighted the heart. Perhaps the first trip we each take after having been forced to stay home will be uniquely special, as I definitely felt it to be as you have shared. Thank you so very much for letting us slip away to Italy with you. 🙂

  2. Thank you for highlighting this Shannon, you’ve articulated so well a number of thoughts that have been whirring away in my mind. I’ve just booked a few nights away to recalibrate and will keep your words in mind.

  3. Shannon~

    Wow! What a great post and the perfect analogy to use. I too find myself “unceasingly aching, no matter how seemingly small, or yearning for something you cannot explain”. I am unsure if it is my age, the fact that my children are grown, my job, or that I seem to not have a lot in common with my husband or the people I have always been surrounded by.

    I have been searching for awhile now and have found rituals that keep me somewhat grounded, a signature style that has lead to less stress, as well as hobbies I enjoy. However, some days I seem to be wanting more and, as you said, have not been able to put my finger on it. While reading this post I had somewhat of an epiphany. I think my problem is that I feel as though I can not just BE. I am always needed by others, or feel as though there are things I have to do. I see people, mostly the men in my life, who just do what makes them happy and not what life necessarily requires of them, while I am always thinking of the next thing I need to do. I never seem to have an opportunity to be alone. There is always someone “under foot” it seems. My days off are often spent taking care of the needs of others or catching up on the housework. How do you tell your loved ones to leave you alone for a few days :)?

    Gosh, I didn’t mean to vent so. But, your post has really resonated with me. Thank you for your words of wisdom, as always.


  4. I have recently “listened” to myself and what I really want to do, explore and achieve in the near future, and have listed them in my journal to keep reminding me to work towards them. They include travel to some desired destinations that just won’t leave my brain, both here in the UK and abroad, and also desires to create a beautiful cottage garden at my home (a goal that will take some time). I found that this exercise of thinking about what I am truly “yearning” for and listing it down, without considering the influence of social media or friends/family, had led me back to my due north and now i know where I am headed again.
    Thank you for the inspiration Shannon,

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