Knock, knock. Who’s there?
Today’s post is a bit of an intense exercise. You may want a pen and paper to jot down your thoughts. And maybe some time to sit with the questions and come up with some answers. Some of you may even want to spread this exercise across many days; especially if you haven’t made time for yourself in while.
Who are you?
This first task might feel rather uncomfortable: look in a mirror. Literally look at yourself. Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve looked into your own eyes, or really truly looked at your face. In my case, I use a mirror most days to put makeup on or make sure there isn’t food in my teeth; but rarely do I sit with myself and actually look at myself. Take a second to see yourself, write down whatever you see. Be honest, if you are critical of anything, or perhaps appreciative of the good genes, or gorgeous hair. Maybe you have eyes that remind you of a gentle, loving grandparent. Or a particular facial shape that is indicative of your heritage. Either way, look at yourself, and write down what you see.
If you are anything like me, you may see things that you’d like to improve… write them down. In my opinion it is better to write things down and be honest with yourself, than act like that thought didn’t go through your mind. Later you can decide what to do with the information you gather, whether that might be to go see a surgeon or take some other action.
Roles and Souls.
Who do you consider yourself to be? Write down whatever comes to mind. Perhaps the first thing that pops into your mind is your literal name. Maybe the second thing is your occupation, or role in life; such as mother, daughter, Vice President, artist, content creator.
Go a bit deeper, beyond the obvious, think now how do you describe yourself? What adjectives do you use to describe yourself? Remember those awful ice-breakers where you have to come up with something to introduce yourself to the group. (Or was that just my strange college experience? It felt like freshman year I had to introduce myself to every classroom full of people using an adjective starting with ‘r’). Remember the squirrel post?
One more step to this exploration: what type of thoughts do you think about yourself? Do you find passing thoughts such as, ‘you’re such an idiot’ go through your mind when you make a mistake? Or the age-old, ‘this is exactly why no one will ever love you’ go through your mind when you’ve said something you wish you could take back?
Yes yes, I know. Most words of advice would point away from comparing, especially in an age where social media allows us to second by second compare someone else’s picture perfect life to our own. But this type of comparison is meant to be different.
For a moment, think of someone who you admire. Bring to mind a visual of that person, think about their life and their roles, their career, their achievements, whatever you know about that person.
Now, write down what you see visually when you look at that person. Next, write down who you think that person to be, and lastly, write down 1-3 thoughts you have about that person.
At this point, you’ve probably already realized the punch line. Compare your list about the person you admire with the list you drew up about yourself. Could you even imagine being as critical of the person you admire as you are to yourself?
Pause, breath, re-write
Okay, okay, okay. Now stop beating yourself up if your lists are like night and day. Even if you had two lists that were somewhat similar, its time to take a deep breath. And re-write the list about yourself from a place of admiration and love.
So. Go look in the mirror again. Write down all the qualities you love about your face, all the things you know you are doing right for your skin, your body, your smile. If there are things you want to improve or you know you have been neglecting, START today in creating a new habit for that area. Or maybe its a call to the doctor about something that has been bothering you.
Now, think about who you are, write down the roles with adjectives that put a more positive spin, as thought you are looking at yourself through the eyes of someone who looks up to you.
And lastly, choose 3 NEW thoughts you’d like to think throughout the day about yourself. Let those 3 new thoughts be your default, even if you have to put them on post-its and read them aloud.
As the days turn into months, and months turn into years, this quote from Gandhi starts to make more sense to me. What we believe deep down inside to be true is what forms our thoughts. If we believe at a basic level that we are ‘good’, we will think of ourselves from that frame. The thoughts we think literally become words expressed to others or muttered under our breath. Those words form actions – I think of this better in the context of work. What is said out loud in meetings, literally become actions and tasks.
Actions, sometimes are a one-time thing, but typically become habits or regular activities, driving something in our lives. Once we make a habit of something, consciously or unconsciously, it becomes somewhat of a ‘value’ in our life. In other words, we are taught to brush our teeth, and eventually we value dental hygiene. With this simple example, it is more clear how these values become a created destiny (such as having a great smile).
Beliefs become thoughts,
Thoughts become words,
Words become actions,
Actions become habits,
Habits become values,
Values become destiny.
From this exercise, I hope you were able to sort through what you believe to be true about yourself. To see more clearly the thoughts you think of yourself. And to be sure that you adjust those believes and thoughts. So that eventually you develop a better sense of self-awareness. Resulting in taking more nurturing actions toward your own-self. Therefore, creating a future you’ll one day look back on and be pleased with.
Let me know what you think about this exercise. If you’d like to connect either down below or in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!