04 22, 2013 | Posted in Uncategorized | 0 comments
How do we see ourselves? Do we see ourselves the same way that others see us? And more importantly, do we define ourselves by what we see?
When working with clients, I often hear "I am ...." or "I do...." as a way of explaining who they are. It's usually followed by "I've been doing this as long as I can remember". However, they are usually seeing me in order to change this very thing, and I'm hearing them affirming the old version of themselves over and over again.
So my challenge to them and to everyone else out there who wants to change is:
Are you prepared to re-define yourself?
It's a tricky one, because on the one hand, we want rid of all the negative behaviour traits and negative emotions associated with the old "us". But on the other hand, the old version feels safe and there are probably parts of it we like.
I used to be a perfectionist. I prided myself on getting things right, doing things well and getting good feedback from others. However there were things I wouldn't do, in case they weren't perfect, and things that took far longer than they needed to, because they had to be perfect. And, there was all the verbal "beating up" of myself when I failed to reach perfection. Then there were all the things - the whoops moments - I could say I'd never done. And those were the things I defined myself by.
Now I'm "good enough". Wow, what a liberating phrase! And I have lots of whoops moments. Whoops - I set myself a schedule this week and I haven't kept to it 100%. But it is good enough for now.
When I was younger, I got drunk and I smoked. I saw it as a cool thing to do, and a way of being part of a social group. I felt it was some kind of rebellion against the sensible behaviour I'd been brought up with, and this made it exciting. I've now given up both and had to go through a huge redefinition to do that. I've had to change the focus in my life from fitting in with an existing social group to prioritising my health. I've had to learn how to be social without a drink and a cigarette in my hand, and what that new version of me is like.
With the drinking, the redefinition happened because of the change, but with the smoking, the redefinition had to happen first in order to make the change.
So, enough about me. What changes in your life are you preventing by how you define yourself? An easy way to check out your self-definition is to listen to your self-talk. What things do you say to yourself over and over again? What do you say to yourself when you are in a challenging situation? What do you say to yourself when you think of making that change you keep saying you want?
Then think about the pay-offs associated with this definition. There are always some. Do you feel it fits you into a social group? Do you feel it'll help you be accepted and approved of? Do you feel it gives you a get-out clause when things get too much to bear? It's important to acknowledge these as they give you the awareness which helps you change.
Then decide which version you'd like to be. You might find that you come to a new decision.