The most common response I get from people when I say I am childfree is the question of regret. Will I regret not having kids? Will I change my mind? I say no, I am sure of my decision, but it's still met with disbelieving glares. They know themselves, they know the joy that comes from children and grandchildren and can't imagine their lives without them, but I know me. I know my likes, my dislikes, where I thrive and where I fail. These things are the things that make me sure of my decision.
Truly knowing yourself helps you make sound decisions and avoid fear and regret that may follow those choices. Self knowledge also gives you greater emotional intelligence, improved critical thinking, strengthened communication and relationships to name a few. (source) The journey to knowing yourself is a marathon not a sprint and takes a lot of intentional effort. You have to take a hard look at your short comings and be completely honest with yourself, your feelings and motivations. It took me years to get to the point I am now, and even still it's an ongoing journey. As seasons change, we grow and refine and morph into a different version of ourselves, forever needing to reintroduce ourselves to ourselves. The person I was at 20 isn't the person I am now, but it was no less me.
So how well do you know yourself? Are you fully in tune with you? It may be time to check your P.U.L.S.E.
P - Passions
What lights your soul on fire? What get's you fired up? Our passions are important to know and explore. If something is really pulling at your heartstrings to pursue or energizes you when you spend time on it, that's not something we should ignore. Don't limit your passions to things like painting or soccer, passions are also causes we desire to fight for like social injustices. "A life without passion is not living, it's merely existing."- Leo Buscaglia
U - Utility
How are you wired? We can all learn to improve on negative qualities or habits we have, but at our core we are wired a certain way. These would be your 'personality test' qualities. Your Ennegram, Myers-Briggs type, Introvert or Extrovert. Although we should never put ourselves in a personality test box, core qualities are important to know. These utilitarian qualities are a good indicator of the type of work you'll enjoy and thrive in, how to interact with others and insure you care for yourself. We can easily set ourselves up for failure by not recognizing our most basic state of being and ignoring what we really need to succeed.
L - Luggage
What are you still carrying with you that you can put down? Whether it be something you've been carrying for years or something you picked up this morning, the baggage we carry around effects how we make decisions, how we interact with others and drains our energy. The things we carry are good indicators of deeper issues and triggers we have, and thus a great opportunity to be introspective and speak some hard truths to ourselves. We can never fully embrace a new relationship, new opportunity, new self or new life if we're still dragging around luggage from the old ones. This is your sign that it's time to forgive.. time to let go.
S - Strengths
Our strengths aren't only our abilities and skills/talents, but also our character strengths. It's important we recognize the positives in ourselves because we all have something we're good at and something to offer the world. Skills like graphic design, organization, talented athlete, a great painter, jewellery maker, great with numbers. We can often take these for granted, not recognizing that something that comes naturally to us is a struggle to others. On top of our talents, it's so important to recognize our character strengths. Things like honesty, teamwork, a love for learning, bravery, humour, self control. These are just as important to appreciate in ourselves. We all have something to offer the world, and something to be proud of.
E - Ethics
Our beliefs and moral principles are the compass we use to direct our life and our decisions. Recognizing and reassessing these belief systems is vital as we grow and change in life. What do you value and feel is important? Trustworthiness, family, respect for others, helping your community? These basic moral values are at the core of who we are and we may not take much time to think about what our basic beliefs are. As a Christian, at the very core, I am called to love others. This is what steers the ship on how I am to act and interact with others. I have other beliefs alongside that, but that is the foundation of everything. So what have you built your life on? What morals, values, ethics are the base of who you are and how you live your life?
Checking our P.U.L.S.E regularly gives us deeper insight into who we are, where we can improve and what we require to thrive. Aristotle said "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom", and I can't help but agree.
Making the choice to be childfree doesn’t scare me. I am not afraid I’ll change my mind, feel I am missing out on anything or regret my decision later in life. I check my PULSE and know I am making the right choice for me and in the end, the only person that needs to be okay with my choices are me.
The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end - you don't come to an achievement, you don't come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.