Build the life you want. That’s the promise of many self-help books these days. But what if you’ve done that, or you thought you did, then woke up and found it wanting? As in: I have a nice life so why am I feeling dissatisfied? How pathetic is that? What’s wrong with me? I believe what’s really at work here is the definition we have of ourselves. Whatever that definition is, we build a life that reflects it, then hang on to it with all we’ve got. Even if it confines us – because predictability is so darned reassuring.
Finish this sentence: I am a person who… what?
The list will be long. Some stuff will make you proud. Some of it will be inviolate. And a lot of it will be limiting. We create comfortable boxes in which we live, and I’m not talking about our homes. I’m talking about how we envision ourselves and our capabilities. If you poke at the edges of your box, however, you’ll discover it’s not nearly as rigid a structure as you thought. Which is mind blowing and liberating.
Let’s take a look at some things on my list.
I am a person who shakes hands. Light, social hugs are OK after a respectable interval. Well that was true for decades, but who was making that rule up besides me? Then I started meeting people who actually hug you when they meet you for the first time, let alone when they have a bonafide ‘reason’. Big, embrace-me-like-you-mean-it hugs. Shocking! And even more shocking? I liked it. I now initiate hugs myself. Not with wild abandon or anything – Rome wasn’t built in a day. But it makes me giddy with delight every time I do, and I’ve even started to question why I’ve closed down when I don’t.
I am a chorister who sings precisely, in tune, and with a voice that blends well with others. Still true, when I’m with the choir. But when I tried singing in a League of Rock trial session one Sunday afternoon, I glimpsed a rock chick hiding inside of me. One year later, with the help of a great coach and a supportive bunch of guys in a band that took me in, that rock chick is still shy but does come out to play. And what a blast when she does.
I am a person who owns her own house. Yowser, this is a biggie and I’m not even certain why it should be. When I split with my husband last year (another startling change of ‘I am’ in itself) I decided to keep my options open by renting instead. I still feel the need to rationalize this to others and myself, often. Which is ridiculous. Slowly, slowly, I’m beginning to accept that the sides of that box could be way more flexible than I thought. Sometimes it takes a lot of baby steps to get to a new place.
So what about you? Take a look at your list and pick something on it. Try poking at the sides of the box you’re built for yourself about that one thing. Every time you dare to poke, you get a chance to discover how much more you can be. The box in which you live expands and the opportunities before you begin to feel totally possible.
Mind blowing and liberating.
If you try this, please leave a comment and tell us what you discovered! It gives others courage, which is almost as good as a hug.