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.
Just like the sailor respects the power of the sea, we have to remember each day to have that respect for ourselves and for life. Respect is something that we talk (or sing) about a lot. We all want to be respected. We want to have people believe in us. And we want them to care enough or at least acknowledge that we deserve to be treated in a respectful manner.
A lot of times we feel that people fail to respect us the way we want. We feel that no one respects how much we do at work. They don’t respect what we do at home. They don’t respect the time it takes us to figure things out. They don’t respect our place. They don’t seem to have much regard at all for the way we want things to go or the way we want our life to turn out. It can be frustrating. And though it would be nice if respect were really just always reciprocal, it doesn’t necessarily work like that.
We can spend all of our time being kind to others, working hard for our bosses, or whomever we have to please, only to have it returned without acknowledgement or even ridicule. The important thing to remember about respect is that respecting ourselves is one of the most beneficial things we can do. And these are the keys to doing it:
- Respect who you are. This means you have to respect that you are you. You are no one else. And you are worthy just as you are of all of the good things life has to offer simply by being you.
- Respect your power. The things you say and do have power. We can’t take back the things we say or do. They remain. We can apologize, and we can hope for the best, but the things we do cannot be undone. So we have to act with respect. Respect to ourselves and who we want to be. And respect to what we want to accomplish.
- Respect others. We spend a lot of time calling attention to the wrong things when it comes to others. We question what they’re wearing. We question their intelligence. We find ways to make comparisons that are completely unnecessary (and probably detrimental) to our well-being or to theirs. We have to change our focus, move away from those comparative habits and learn to look at ourselves and others without judging.
We have to be able to live our lives happy without ourselves. It’s rare that we are comparing ourselves to others because we are secure ourselves. It’s important that we take the time to respect ourselves enough to know that we should be secure in who we are. We worthy just as we are. We are capable of whatever we want to accomplish. And we don’t have to worry with anyone else. It is time not well spent that we don’t get back. I used to be terrible about talking about people’s outfits or hair or mostly the things that they said or did that I could find a way to make fun of. It wasn’t because I was a happy person. It was because I liked knowing that they weren’t perfect either. That they shouldn’t be considered great, because I wasn’t considered great. But in reality, all that I was doing was wasting time. And I wasn’t wasting anyone’s time but mine. I wasn’t wasting anyone’s mind but mine. Instead of focusing on me, and letting the other stuff go, I failed to respect anyone, including myself and it just left me unhappy and unfulfilled.
We all can do great things. We all deserve great things. Life is worth our respect. We have to respect our time. We have to respect ourselves. We have absolutely nothing to gain by failing to respect ourselves, our power, and others. The sailor respects the sea, because it has the capacity to overwhelm their boat with barely a moment’s notice. Storms pop up out of nowhere, and it’s the same in life. We have to respect our life. That’s how we gain the knowledge we need to weather the storms that are thrown our way. So the next time you sing the song, remember, it’s truth. We all deserve respect, so we need to take the time to truly respect ourselves.
When I was working on my undergrad I had a class called motivation. In it we talked about something called “flow theory.” Flow theory talks about this thing that happens that people refer to as flow. Basically, you ask people why they like doing the things they like doing and what’s different about the things they like the most. People typically respond with whatever it is that they like the most, and state that “It just flows” for them.
This was a concept I immediately understand. I had always had things that just flowed for me. When I was younger it was sports. Particularly basketball and softball. For some reason, it just flowed when I played them. I had a natural talent for them. So playing them just made sense to me. I also had that flow with writing. There is a connection that happens when I write. And it just flows. It was nice when I was in school, because I could write papers the night before or in the morning when they were due. And well, procrastination flows for me as well!
But I’ve also found that we can use those things that flow for us to focus our minds. I am one of those people (which I honestly think is at least half of all people) whose mind is constantly going. Thousands of thoughts all going in all directions at one time. Spurred on by stressed. Making decisions nearly impossible. And finding a goal or a path in life nearly impossible. Clinically, it’s probably considered a low grade form of ADHD sans hyperactivity (except this morning when I had some coffee for the first time in a year and It was amazing!). When we can’t slow our minds down and we can’t stop the thoughts and focus we have an attention deficit. But like I said, I have found that I can use those things that flow for me to calm my mind. And if I can pay attention to the fact that my mind is calm, I can use that time to work to find a focus. I can prioritize my problems. I can make a list. I can organize my thoughts in a way that seems impossible otherwise.
It’s important that we pay attention to what we are doing with our time. It’s important that we utilize the tools that we do have at our disposal. We all have something (multiple things) that flow for us. If we pay attention and utilize these things, then we can use them to find our focus. We can use them as tools to guide our lives. We can calm our minds. We can find respite. We can search for the right next move. When we need to know where to go, because we can’t see any doors open for us we can use what flows for us. Let it calm us. Let it move us. Think about what flows for you, then try to see if you can use it to organize your thoughts and figure out different roads you can take. Use it to find a way to get to where you want to be. It may take some practice, but the payoff is worth it. And so are you! 🙂