Checking In With Ourselves

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19. I’m getting these little check in’s from the women around me. Each has been filled with the desire of a renewed self in the new year. I’m not hearing about resolutions. I am hearing about re-patterning.

How we think is akin to a worn path through a grass covered lawn. The one that cuts diagonally from the parking lot to the front door, because that perfectly square sidewalk that braces the perimeter of the property is totally inconvenient. It takes you on a tour of the property, rather than where you want to go.

This is the physical equivalent of our thought patterns. The ones that feel as true as the sky is blue, the earth is round. They were formed before we remember and are a combination of how we are wired with the experiences we have had. They might go something like this:

Daring thought: “I should go to Africa! I’ve always wanted to go on safari.”

Automatic thought: “No way. You can’t go to Africa. What if a hippo charges you? What if you get malaria? How are you going to pay for that trip? (side tangent: did we pay the credit card bill this month? Do we have enough savings? We need to protect ourselves! We’re doing a terrible job of being a responsible adult). Well, it’s a nice idea to go to Africa, but let’s think about it a bit longer. Maybe next year things will be different and hippos won’t be scary because we’ll be stronger and fitter and leaner. (side tangent: I really do need to start working out more. Jeez. remember when we were thinner? We need to get back there.)

Those familiar automatic thoughts drive us directly to an answer without letting us first consider, really consider, an idea. Out of perceived self-protection, these “truths” limit what we think we are capable of. They limit renewal.

So, let’s do this together. Let’s enter into this new year by both developing an awareness and engaging in a dream.

Do a wild brainstorm of all that’s in your heart and spirit. Just jot it all down. It can be anything from how you want to live to where you want to go to what you want to have. Keep a separate brainstorm of all of the “truths” that pop up in your head. The “why I can’t”s. Start there. I’m curious to see what you come up with – because once all of that is externalized, you may see a new truth clear as day.

I’ll give one example of how this worked in my life. Twelve years ago I was trying to leave my previous job. My heart sank further and further with each job posting I read. Because I realized that I was already in the best organization for my field. It was the work that wasn’t a fit for me, not the job. So I made a list of the most fulfilling jobs I’d ever had. And another list of positions where I was the most frustrated. I included all paid positions – even mowing the lawn for the neighborhood pool club.

I then listed the core qualities of each. The result?

The best jobs had this in common: working with my hands, moving all day long, interacting with people but not the same people every day, working on my own time and without co-workers or employees, and having an “end” to my efforts. A consistent physical outcome of what I spent my time working on.

The worst job qualities included: sitting at a desk, working from 9 – 5, a commute, working with same people each and every day, and seeing no real end to my efforts.

The challenging and freeing new realization once I had this information? My hardwired brain had eliminated an ENTIRE group of careers, because I had been socialized to believe that the definition of success was an office job with a corner office and employees underneath me. No amount of changing organizations was going to fulfill me, because the core qualities of what make me happy are not inherent to the line of work that I was in. My default “truth” of what I should do for a career was not only on the wrong path, it was in the wrong mountain range. I may never have seen that so clearly had I not done that simple exercise.

So, if you’re working with an amorphous desire to do something different in your life, but you can’t quite pinpoint the solution, check in with what you think is “true” and challenge it. And let us know what you find!

 

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