Shifting the default ‘you’
Before we get into today’s post, know that it may be helpful to have pen and paper. Or a way to take notes, or capture your thoughts. It might also be helpful to have a timer of some sort, as we will be doing reflection exercises. Having a timer has always helped me with these types of exercises, provides a bit of structure.
Prior to jumping into corporate life, I was becoming a teacher. During this time, I would often find myself in a classroom. What seems like a lifetime ago, I worked at a summer program. Through that program, I met a child who was told regularly that he was lazy by their parents. After morning drop off, he would come up to me, sad as can be and ask, “Miss Rose, am I lazy? My parents tell me I’m lazy and don’t seem to want me around.” It broke my heart everyday, to see his pain, and his desire to change this impression without knowing how.
From my perspective, this child was not lazy. He picked up after himself, he engaged with the rest of the kids and he was able to have thoughtful conversations. Although I wasn’t going to be able to change his parents opinion of him; or ask them to discontinue the negative feedback. I was able to be encouraging while he was around me. Sadly, his parents may never come to know that they either shaped the way he understood the word lazy. Or potentially engrained in him a false narrative of himself.
Our environment and the things we tell ourselves
This story is meant to illustrate how our environment and others opinions shape the view we hold for ourselves. The view we have of ourselves shapes our perspective on life, it acts as a filter for our thoughts, our actions and the potential we think we have in life. Regardless if it is negative or positive, the things others tell us (and the things we tell ourselves) have an affect.
Think of some of the people who are of high regard in their sport: Tiger Woods, Andre Agassi, Shawn Johnson. The backstory of these athletes begins with a support system who consistently reinforced the sport as part of who they were. Had the influential figures in their life shot down their talent, ignored it all together or even gave them negative feedback; they would surely be in a completely different spot in life now.
After considering your favorite athletes or role models, now think or the words, or moments which have influenced your own opinion of yourself. For better, or for worse, can you think of examples where sometime complemented you and you felt on top of the world? Or a time when the disappointment from another came across loud and clear and made you feel like crawling into a cave?
This doesn’t have to be the story
So yes, while our environment and others outside influence shapes us; the story it creates doesn’t have to be the end. We have the ability to shift into any storyline and person we want to be. At any moment, we can shed the old story and start working on developing a version of ourselves we truly want to be. So, let’s get into today’s exercise.
Default: Your preselected option
Today’s post is about shifting the default ‘you’. By default, I mean the version of yourself that is not trying. The personality you exhibit naturally and revert to automatically.
First, write down who you think ‘you’ are. What words come to mind when you think about yourself? Do this from your own perspective. Is your current default-self, who you really want to be? Another way to think about it is: are there areas where you are disappointed in yourself? Yet still, are there personality traits you love about yourself?
To start, brainstorm on the following questions: How would a stranger describe you? If you have taken the myers briggs, how did it describe you? How would your best friend describe you? What about a caretaker or family member? How would your employer describe you? If you haven’t taken it already, here is the link to the ‘am I a difficult person test’.
Which of these external descriptions or test results do you agree with? Are there one or two descriptions which you’ve come to accept over time? Simply because it was told to you, over and over? From the descriptions, are there some which you wish were not true? Are there any that are more positive than you feel about yourself? Are there some descriptions which have served you well and allowed you to propel forward in a direction you would not have seen for yourself?
Consider the source
Before going further in the exercise, as you think of the external descriptions; consider the source. Positive, or negative, is the source a valid one? Is the individual giving feedback, well-respected in their field? Does the person have your best interest in mind?
For example, if my dance instructor gave me feedback about dance, I would know that it is in mine and his best interest; with a purpose to make me a better dancer. However, if someone that simply wanted more of my time and didn’t want me going to class discouraged me and told me I’d never get better; I would know it wasn’t coming from a healthy place.
A good way to test out feedback or your own beliefs about yourself, is to ask, “Who told me that?”. Meaning, if the information didn’t come from a reputable source or for helpful reasons – it might be time to sort it into the trash bin. This of course takes strength and perspective.
Decide who you want to be
Next, it is time to decide who you want to be. If you are following along on paper, it is time to literally turn to a new page. Now, consider a clean slate, give yourself the permission to forget your past and simply dream. Think of the characteristics you would like your dream-self to exhibit. Further, think of what your ideal state would be – emotionally, socially, career-wise and of course your physical body and financial health.
As if the first part of this post wasn’t intense enough; I do recognize that this is a difficult task. With this in mind, extend yourself grace. Perhaps come back to this part on another day. It is my recommendation to do this when you have clarity and peace of mind. And, when you can put yourself in a believing state.
My recommendation is to write a few adjectives down in the following categories, give yourself TEN MINUTES TOTAL (about 2 minutes per section). Use words which have deep meaning to you.
- Physical Body / Nutrition / Health
- Emotional state / Daily thought life / Outward expression
- Financial state / Career / Side Hustles
- Social life / Hobbies / Interests
- Spiritual life / Faith Life / Belief System
Here is my default-self example with the sections mentioned above, for some inspiration.
A bit of a warning
Remember that others may not be as excited about you changing as you are. Some people may see your personal growth as a threat; try your best not to let their opinions and comments push you from your center. From personal experience, as I continue growing myself; I have noticed some people embrace it, recognize it and are happy for my growth. While others, who were potentially benefiting from my character flaws were discouraging, rude and would start rumors. When this occurs, please give yourself the opportunity to stop and ask, “Who told me that?” and go back to the consider the source section of this post. It might also be helpful to revisit the post on discernment. Unfortunately, not everyone has our best interest in mind. therefore, it is extremely important to consider the source, consider the motive and return back to your steady center regardless of others opinions.
Even though it may seem too much to consider, YOU DO have the power to change your ‘default’ self. Each day, as you begin the day, remember who you want to be. Give yourself credit for the micro-changes. This could be as simple as your thought pattern changes.
Know, that while some people have success with changing quickly; it make take others sometime. Therefore, try and consistently put yourself in an encouraging environment. For example, listen to motivating podcasts, watch inspirational stories and read about the greats. Furthermore, study your biggest role model; and start to adopt their daily habits as your own.
The good news is, YOU get to design your life. YOU get to decide who you are; and who you are becoming. On a moment to moment basis, you can choose to shift into your new default or revert back to the old. Today, I encourage you to become the version of yourself you truly want to be.
For those who read my blog and have been successful at this shift; please connect in the comments! Because I have aspiring and young readers; as well as wise experienced readers, I’d love to hear from both sides on your personal journey’s.
Much love, xoxo