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.
When I think of how many times I’ve had to restart my plans sometimes it feels like trying again is absolutely useless! It seems like every time I start to get going where I want to go, something happens that sets me back. Whether it’s a trip to the hospital, a refusal of help when I really feel like I need it, or a lovely company opting to “go a different route,” things constantly come up that force me to start back again down the road having to find an alternate route.
There are times when I literally think crashing into a wall would be a better option than this continuous struggle to get back up and find a new path. It happens so much with writing, because this is one of the hardest paths I’ve had to travel down. There’s so much life happening all the time that I think it gets to be too much. It’s hard to struggle to get to a place where Jack and I will be okay on our own. And I worry a lot that I’m not traveling down the right path for us. But I think the only way to teach him not to give up on his dreams is to not give up on mine.
In life I see person after person come to me about their careers. People ask me about their careers more than anything else. It’s frustrating to see so many people who want to accomplish their dreams, but have found it too hard to keep starting over. And it’s understandable. It’s hard to constantly try to find your way, and to see that every time a door closes there are other options and that you SHOULD take them. Everyone has a breaking point. And sometimes a break does allow for a chance to refocus. To find more drive and clearer direction for where we need to go. We have to determine what we can give up and what we can’t. The path is filled with introspection and action. Both have to work together.
It’s similar to a relationship. Which the title completely applies to as well! (at least for me!) Relationships have their ups and downs. Some relationships have to end, and we have to start again. It’s important to not make the same mistakes repeatedly. To constantly be learning and growing, so that we can find the person we actually want to be with, instead of the person like the others who it didn’t work out with. These paths are so instrumental to our happiness and well-being that their importance cannot be overlooked. We have to know ourselves well enough to know where we want to go, and who we want to go there with. We have to be able to get back on board and ride with fluidity, avoiding the bumps and holes and walls!
The nice thing about riding a bike, is once you get back on it, it has the capacity to get you where you want to go. From climbing the Alps to down along the shoreline. When we know figure out where we are going, the transportation is already in place. So even though it seems hard to jump back on, it really does get easier. We acclimate more quickly. We can maneuver more precisely with each time we choose to ride again. So even though there are walls, and we seem to crash a lot, we have the chance to recover, and get back up better equipped than we were before. Where there’s a wall, there’s a way around it 🙂
Most of the time I have a tendency to feel like it’s me against the world. I don’t think this is abnormal. Many of us feel like it’s hard to find good help in the process of getting to where we want to go. But there were times when I really feel like I’m stuck inside this bubble or there is a force field surrounding me and I can’t push through it to get to where anyone can hear me. I’m trying to say what I need or searching for someone to talk to, but I can’t seem to find a way to break through. When I started thinking about this more the other night, I started to wonder why it was that I felt so disconnected sometimes.
In life we cannot make it on our own. We are dependent upon someone else for survival. I think a lot of times this sort of conflicts with the idea that we are born alone, we live our own individual lives, and we die alone. We are both extremely connected and extremely disconnected all at once. But if we survive past infancy, it’s because someone else allowed for it. If we survive childhood there had to be someone around to help, even if it wasn’t our parents. We learn to speak and to act from others. We depend on someone for food and water… maybe farmers could survive on their own, but most of us these days couldn’t survive without the actions of someone else. We need one another. We need others to care about our well-being on a very real level simply for our physical survival. So when we consider our social needs, maybe they stem from our survival needs, but they are also existent on a very real level.
We need others to care about us. If no one cares, it’s nearly impossible to survive. If we don’t allow others to care, it’s nearly impossible for us to survive. This two-way street that exists is very important. We have to give in order to get, but we have to be open in order to receive. If we don’t allow others in, if we don’t acknowledge how much our lives are impacted by the lives of those around us (and even those not near to us in any way) then we make this life much harder than it needs to be. And it gets really hard at times, because it is easy to feel like you are the only one who honestly cares about you. But a lot of the time, the issue can be that others don’t know how to help you. You have to say what you need. If people still don’t respond, then we probably need to find new people to surround ourselves with, because life is too hard to get anywhere worth going on our own. I think learning to live in this sort of paradox has been one of the more difficult things to sort out or “overcome.” I’ve always felt different. And as I get older, though I very much like who I am, I still find it hard sometimes to figure out how to know what I need from others and what I need to do on my own. My son very freely seeks out others. I am much more introverted than he appears to be. I admire his willingness to interact with others and ask for help. He’s open to others, and this is a skill it has taken me a long time to acquire. So today my goal is to keep up my meditation, which really has been nice these past few days, to find a good song, and to be attentive to (make a list and reflect upon) all the different people it takes for me to survive each day. Despite the stress of feeling like I have to write, these past few days I have really felt more rejuvenated, and that makes me feel like I’ve made a good decision. What are your goals for today?