Saturday, February 21, 2009

Brand New Me

OK, I am a Partridge Family fan. I admit it. I had a crush on David Cassidy when I was 10. One of their best songs, "A Brand New Me" begins . . . "Come on down, off your cloud, why should you be a face in the crowd . . .". This is a classic song, and a classic question.

I am resurrecting the "brand" new me concept, to step back and take a look at what this is all about. Of late, I have come to the conclusion that we are very busy at watching each other, and opining about the state of one another. We look at the way others look, the clothes they wear, and we judge that. We wonder how is that one person can be promoted or recognized for something, and others are not. We gauge our own personal success by the success of others. And the funny thing is, if we are all doing that, and being envious of each other, or critical, how do we ever really see ourselves. With all this activity going on, we create a whirl of calamity around us, and we are therefore never satisfied or content. I would describe these juxtaposing forces as calmness, versus calamity.

My coach and mentor recently gave me an assignment to observe these feelings, and to note what is happening at that exact moment. In doing so, I have come to some conclusions about self perception and interpretation, both internal and external, and how we are pushed and pulled by these forces without even realizing it.

I would use the word impulses instead of feelings. Impulses are kind of like electrical waves of emotional shifts and changes. If we were to be hooked up to a monitor, you would see the line level at "calm" and increase or spike at "calamitous." A hurricane is calamitous. A sea is calm. A storm is calamitous. A breeze is calm. A scream is calamitous. A laugh is calming. You get the picture.

So here are my observations:

  • Calm = the sun, the sea, warm breezes
  • Calamitous = icy cold wind
  • Calm = yoga (an exercise in focus and blocking out noise)
  • Calamitous = the Treadmill (running on the spot and getting nowhere)
  • Calm = being in control, understanding the situation, being informed
  • Calamitous = out of control, no understanding of what is happening, and being misinformed or uninformed
  • Calm = accomplishment
  • Calamitous = directionless activity
  • Calm = contributing to something that helps someone; being part of something positive
  • Calamitous = non - truthful reactions / actions
  • Calm = building toward a greater good, a positive outcome
  • Calamitous = idiocy and blind ignorance
  • Calm = recognition for accomplishments and contribution
  • Calamitous = seeing my work end up on someone else's paycheck.
  • Calm = working toward something.
  • Calamitous = reacting to something that is outside of my control.
  • Calm = live and let live.
  • Calamitous = my way or the highway
Conclusions about Calamity

When we give in to these "triggers", we give up control of ourselves. The storm takes over, and we are powerless but to go with it. When we lose control, we lose our ability to manage the outcome. Regrets always follow. Triggers are external factors but we can control how we react. My dad always says, "you can't change others, you can only change yourself." Knowing what triggers us and how we tend to react is the key. Do we act out negatively against ourselves, through vices such as work, food and cigarettes? Or do we act out negatively against others, through such vices as anger and exerting control on others over whom we have more power? Self perception has a lot to do with this. Triggers are effective because they attack something about us. In short, triggers are our ego working against us. Ego is fear. Fear is loss of control.

Everyone has a storm brewing from time to time. We can't help but feel the force of external factors that we cannot control; we are threatened by the possibility of being out of control all the time. That's why balance in life is important. And to me, balance is created when I do more of the things that give me joy, and less of the things that don't. The other aspect of balance is knowing that sometimes we have to "suck it up" and just do the things that we don't want to do, but have to do. To me, dishes are the metaphor for this - my grandmother taught me when I was 7 that sometimes you just have to do dishes.

We judge each other harshly, but in reality, everyone is looking into his or own mirror, and not looking at anyone else. I noticed this when I was at the beach in Brasil. People of all shapes and sizes were wearing bathing suits smaller than mine. I could have been sans suit and no one would have looked twice. I thought back to our local beach and judging that we think is going on. I came to the conclusion that we are watching ourselves. They are not watching us.

So, where is all this leading to?

Getting back to the "Brand New Me" opening, the place to begin is self acceptance. Say it out loud with me - "I am not perfect, but I am not broken." Next is to get busy living a plan - or living on purpose. Have a vision for the future, and take the time to break it down into specific things:
  • What are the goals that will help you to achieve the vision?
  • What do you need to remember to do every day and never forget to do?
  • What do you value - in other words - what lines will you never cross to get to your vision?
  • Finally, what is the first thing that you need to do to get there?
This is harder than it looks, but as a wise person said to me just today, "baby steps, sistah, baby steps." Ask for help - someone who can keep you on task and help you ask the tough questions.

Finally, make choices today that will get you to the place you want to be. Document the "triggers" or things that will cause you to react and possibly take you off plan. That could mean not shopping out of boredom, smoking, or diving into a big bag of salty snacks.

You will find yourself at the threshold of decisions, so be prepared to make them. Inevitably, you will have to decide the following:

  • Identify what makes you feel calm and what makes you feel stormy?
  • Analyze the trends. What would you have to do more of to be more calm? What do you need to stop doing or allowing? What do you need to start doing?
  • Do you want to stay the way you are?
  • Do you find the current state intolerable?
  • What changes will you have to make?
  • Do you have the courage and support to make those changes?
  • Do you understand the risks, and are you prepared to manage them?
  • Are you committed to this so that when the unforeseen occurs you will not abandon your plan?
Answering these soul searching questions will help you to identify options, or directions. Then you need to ask yourself these questions:
1. Which option is acceptable and creates more calmness than calamity in your life?
2. Which option is not and creates more calamity?
I realized that calamity is not an option for me. Life if too short.

No comments: