Have you been preoccupied by anything lately—your bank account, your kids, your weight, your future direction at work, your life in general? Do you feel pleased about how things are going or are you worried or concerned?
It seems that we just get weighed down with the specifics and details of life, the responsibilities we have. Actually they are the giant ebbs and flows of life energy that can take us for a raging ride in the rapids, followed by smoother sailing in quiet waters. We are always riding the wave of what we call life, and it can be exhilarating and harrowing, sometimes in the same moment.
Everyone is defining themselves by the waves, the ups and downs. We lose track of ourselves in the midst of all that is going on. We are often caught up in watching our weight, watching what we eat, catching the best gossip from our colleagues at work. We read the magazines about Hollywood; we try a new cosmetic or cologne. We join the gym across town to get in shape. We kibitz about taxes, poor service, our neighbor’s noise, and a million other things. We might even worry about our family, the incessant wars, political stalemates, corruption, offshore tax havens and more.
One source estimates that Americans spend 55 billion on cosmetics, 30 billion on athletic apparel, and between 40-50 billion on losing weight every year. Phew!! We preoccupy ourselves with external measurements; the majority of our self-talk is diminishing if not downright disabling. We project our own standards on everyone else and wonder why the world that we expected appears to be going down the drain.
We are NOT our worries; we are NOT our preoccupations; we are NOT our weight. When we get totally caught up in the externals of life, we are resisting the waves, not riding them. In fact, as a surfer, we’d be off the board and flailing in the water because of our distractions and distress.
If you are thinking that you don’t fit into these categories, keep count of the negative words you use about yourself and others each day. Keep count of each time you want to curse out a driver or another person in your life. None of us are totally confident. Not one of us knows everything, even though we wish we did. But in the midst of it all, it’s really important to know who we are.
So WHO ARE WE, if not the external persona we project? This is a lifelong question, but the sooner we start to figure out the answer, the happier we are. The following STOP’s and START’s may seem simplistic to you. Believe me, they are not. They have been essential steps for me in coming to a deep knowing and understanding, and loving, of who I am. Try them out for a month, and see what works for you in learning more about yourself.
#1 STOP: Stop comparing yourself to others. When we do this, we usually find ourselves on the bottom rung of some ladder, when we were actually comparing our perceived weaknesses to someone’s perceived strengths. This is a ridiculous exercise with limiting and limited returns.
#1 START: Start noticing your strengths. Watch for what rings your bell and brings a smile to your face. Watch for what makes you laugh or makes you cry. Listen when someone compliments you. FOCUS on your strengths of performance and your strengths of character. FOCUS on what is working well in your life. If you don’t have any idea where to start, buy Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath and take the online test. It’s a great place to begin.
#2 STOP: Stop talking to yourself like a mean relative, constantly judging and nagging at you to “do better,” “do more,” or to be and do what they think you should be and do. We tend to fall into this trap of pleasing or impressing others far too often, and it becomes a life energy drain, taking all our joy away.
#2 START: Start talking to yourself with respect. We’re not perfect but we can improve whatever we wish to in our exterior or interior lives, without diminishing our relationship with ourselves. If you see a habit, a pattern of manipulation, or an obsession you have, CHANGE the pattern by changing what you are telling yourself about it. For once, RELAX and tell yourself, “I love and accept you just as you are today.” Remember, Rome was not built in a day. And talking to yourself with real respect will take lots of self acceptance and practice.
#3 STOP: Stop searching outside of yourself for what is “right.” Are you looking for the right friend, the right partner, the perfect love, the perfect body, the right job?
#3 START: Start doing what is right for you; start being what feels right to you. Searching for the one person or thing that will magically make you happy or make your life “right” doesn’t work, ever. You can only know what is right by spending more time with yourself. Honor what you value and your own wishes and desires in life. Pay attention to how people and situations make you feel. Experiment; there are no mistakes in getting to know yourself. When you befriend yourself, when you learn from inside yourself what is really right for you, everything else gets easier.
We express many parts of ourselves in many ways, and we change. We change our likes and dislikes. Hopefully, we even change what we believe or have been taught to believe as we expand our experiences in life. It is hard to believe, but we are all doing the best we can at any given time. If we could have done better, we would have. No judgments are needed about a down day or a negative behavior or experience. Every experience has a gift or learning within it.
SO, let’s ride the waves and just enjoy every minute we can. The journey of my lifetime has been being my own best friend and getting to know a little more about who I am every day, and then sharing who I really am with others.
Vivian Hildebrandt is a Reality Upgrader at www.GotoSource.org. Contact Vivian to learn how to activate the life changes you really want and to live authentically. To reach Vivian, click www.gotosource.org/get-help/. To sign up for weekly updates, visit our website.