I’ve had a lot of questions lately about getting started. People who are interested in understanding how to change their current circumstance in some way or another, or in most ways altogether. So I decided it might be a good idea to try to help by plotting out some initial groundwork, and well, since I have a blog, I decided to share it here. But since it will be long, I decided to break it up (It’s probably still long – apologies – it should be helpful though.)
Day 1: To begin I always feel like it’s basically impossible to change anything we want if we haven’t had the chance to really evaluate some important things. The first two are: who we are and where we are – right here, right now. And these two can give us a foundation to work towards who we want to be and where we want to be. And one of the most important keys that influences all of these factors is self-worth. Obviously, I believe in understanding self-worth – I studied it while I was in graduate school (and beyond) and I wrote a book about it. And as we travel through these evaluations, it’s important to remember just how much of a navigational pull self-worth really has, so we will naturally begin uncovering our own individual feelings of self-worth and learning how to use our worth as a tool for success in our journey.
A while back there were some studies done that showed that there was a difference in levels of honesty between subjects who were sitting in a room writing about themselves where one room had a mirror sitting beside the table and the other simply a blank wall. When we are actually forced to stop and look and face ourselves, it’s different than the rest of the time when we can coast through largely ignoring things and knowing that we are planning on fixing whatever may need to be fixed “soon.” Part of this is helpful, we can’t function in panic-mode all the time, it’s not efficient. We have to compromise at certain points in time, it’s simply the way of life. But when we get lost and going along down the same road is no longer a viable option, we have to take the time to find out what is.
We start by looking at who we are. What we know to be true about ourselves where we are right now, in the moment. I was doing this exercise (that I will share next) a short while back sort of explaining it to someone, and I began talking about myself and I described a part of my past as “pathetic,” but I gave it a present-tense verb. I said, “I know, I’m pathetic.” And suddenly I realized that a part of me actually currently felt that way. It wasn’t a mistake. Maybe a Freudian slip, I suppose. And it was an issue I honestly had believe I had worked through all the way. And I started to panic a little, almost on the verge of tears, because I didn’t know what this meant. It had been a while since I had really sat down to look at where I was at and how I was coming along on my goals. I had started simply coasting, because I knew things were mostly going how I wanted them to go. The parts that weren’t technically had an easy fix, that I would “soon” engage in, but I thought I was good. Better than ever. So when I had this moment, I didn’t know how to handle it, and I had to take the time and look back into myself and see who I was, right there, right then to me.
The exercise is this: Describe who you are in writing as if in a conversation with someone who could be (or is) your best friend. This is someone you could tell all of your truths to, no judgment, only understanding.
The goal in this exercise is to uncover in a conversational manner how we feel about who we are right here, right now. So we write it out on paper, (or simply have the conversation in our minds if we don’t want to write it out right now, for whatever reason) and we have a starting point to gather who we are.
From this conversation we write down things we want to keep and (Separately) the things we want to change in order of priority. We want to begin to see who we are right now with a positive starting point and try to understand where we need to go to be closer to who we want to be. And we want to write down what we want to change those things we are displeased with into – what do we want the things we don’t like to become. And with this we have a positive foundation, a gauge of what we need to change and a sight for what we want to change into.
Examples would be:
1. Things I want to keep: Empathy, desire/motivation to change, organizational habits, messiness, ability to love, workout habits, relationship skills, faith, competitive, happiness, etc…. the list can truly be anything you want to keep about you.
2. Things I want to change: Negativity, judgment, lack of motivation, messiness, workout habits, faith, won’t let anyone in, (un)competitive, unhappiness, etc….again, the any of the things you want to change.
3. What I want these things to change into: Negativity to positive attitude, build others up instead of discouraging them and/or judging them, from boredom to looking for ways to help out, from messy to organized, etc.
We are looking at helping ourselves to transform from who we are into who we truly want to be. It’s important to be honest, to be in depth, and to be willing to be open to the journey. All journeys take time, but to go on one we must be willing to step on board. Keep what you write or work really hard to remember what you created in your head. We’ll use them again, as this is our starting point.
I began this month trying to figure out what I could use this blog for. I decided since it was mental health awareness month to use it to write things that are related to mental health…but in particular posts that were encouraging to people so that the posts could help boost our mental health together. I hadn’t written in a long time, and I was trying to find a way back into writing. And trying to stretch my own capacity for creativity and writing.
And today when I was thinking about the challenge that I had put forth for myself, to spend a portion of each day doing something that was focused at helping others and helping myself by growing, I realized that I had accomplished more than I thought I would this month. This month was full of trials and tribulations that I hadn’t expected at all in my personal life. And this blog really has served to help me sort out those issues and helped me find people who have similar problems in their lives.
What I also thought about today is how important it is to reflect upon our challenges in life. I’m not sure that I’ve really reflected on things in this manner before. Normally if I look back on a challenge it isn’t usually with the notion that I’ve passed the challenge. I have a tendency to dwell upon the challenge as something that I wish hadn’t happened, and don’t look at the fact that I have made it through, and I am continuing to make it through. I am usually just frustrated by the challenge itself in general. In my head I know that we all have challenges and that we can and should learn from them, but when we look at our own instead of at other people’s it’s a lot harder to tell where the challenge begins and ends, and whether or not we’ve actually overcome or accomplished anything. But in reality we have all overcome and accomplished things because of and in spite of our challenges. And I think taking the time to look at them in that manner is necessary to our well-being. We have to be able to look at ourselves and see the good things, see the accomplishments (even if at first we feel they are minimal at best), see that we are survivors, so that we can remind ourselves that we are achievers.
When we know who we are, we can know where we can go. And I firmly believe that we can go anywhere we want to go. In fact, we will go wherever we want to go, because that’s the way things work.
(just a note, I’m not stopping the blog, just reflecting on this month)