“Often we don’t even realize who we are meant to be, because we are so busy trying to live someone else’s ideas”.
Andrea Pennington, integrative medical doctor, acupuncturist and Positive Psychology coach explains that in the western world most of us we ¨programmed¨ to fit into social norms, when we start business we want to compete and when we suffer most – we look outside of ourselves for the cause and the cure.
She explains that our programmed believes about who we are dictates the level of our success and health. According to doctor Pennington, our “programming” of self image and how we see the world starts at the early age, where until the age of 6 we passively absorb, record and believe the things that are coming from outside world. Socialization process shapes our identity and little by little the social mask is formed, so we behave according to the rules of our family, culture, religion. This causes partial loss of who we really are and leads to unauthentic version of ourselves. And most of us end up putting our unacceptable personality traits under the shadow and we end up masquerading half big version of ourselves, embracing the ideals of our friends and families in order to fit into society rules and be accepted.
What happens when we do not express ourselves?
Denied self-expression leads to depression.
My question to you is: in which area of your life today you do not express yourself?
Do we have any cure or code for inner shift?
Below are 3 keys that Andrea suggests for our internal transformation:
Learn who you are.
One of the coaching techniques that can offer us better understanding of ourselves is to clarify our values and what makes our inner self alive.
I propose you the following exercise. Turn the clock back and remember one of your peak moments of life. Remember a time in your life when you felt yourself and full power—a time when your spine, arms, and fingertips were tingling with excitement, a time when you didn’t care what anyone thought of you. You were absolutely alive! Visualize that moment and allow some time to clearly capture emotions.
Once you have a clear picture in your mind, observe your emotions and feelings that are coming to you.
Once you have the picture, reflect on what you have just seen and ask yourself the following questions:
• Where were you?
• What were you doing?
• Who was around you?
• What was occurring at that time?
• What was your impact on others?
• What was your strength at that moment?
• What are your values that showed up at that moment?
Make a list and write it down. Everything that came up during this exercise. Write down a list of values, feelings and what have you just discovered about yourself. What did you love the most out of this list? Do you have it today in your life? How often do you honor your values today?
I do not want to “program” you, so will not give you any example. But your values is what defines who you are and what really matters to you.
By knowing who we are, our strengths and what matters to us, we can define which direction are we going. We can identify how authentic we are in our daily life and how disconnected we might become from our inner self while living lives of others.
Love who you are.
What is the expression of your self love?
How often do you celebrate your successes and give credit to yourself? Or is it just your failures that you notice the most?
The next exercise is simple, but it requires your commitment.
And being committed to yourself is a major expression of self love.
It’s about observing your inner talk with yourself (and after with others).
There was a study done which showed that during the day we have around 60000 thoughts. And majority of them are negative! Can you imagine this?
The most interesting is that the same pattern will appear again and again. If we constantly judge ourselves (not enough perfect, etc.), the same way we see others. In other words if you blame or criticize yourself often, you will be most likely to express the same with others.
The impact on our lives of how we speak to ourselves is huge!
The same exercise I did with one of my clients, I just wrote down in 5 minutes of her talk all the negative phrases that she used while describing herself in that particular life situation – she could not believe that this is happening constantly! And after it turned out that her self sabotage was creating problems with her relationships, since her internal critic was taking the lead of her thoughts, actions and her communication with others.
That is why it is important to observe and write it down. This is the first step.
And it is important to start catching your inner critic phrases, because this is how your brain learned to function. The change does not happen in one day, but this allows us to become conscious of how do we treat ourselves.
The second step is to create antidote for your inner critic. It means for every negative phrase that you wrote down – create an affirmation.
Your internal critic: “How could I do this again?”
Your antidote: “I am in the learning process path, what do I learn from this?”
Your internal critic: “I am not good enough”.
Your antidote: “I am good at (name it), I have unique talents and see that this particular area needs improvement. How can I improve?”
We can notice that energies are different in these 2 examples and each voice generates completely different feeling in us: one is sabotaging us and another is searching for our growth and offering solution.
Live who you are.
Once we accept and love ourselves, we can give something to this world. And living who we are allows us to use our wisdom, our qualities and talents in service to others.
Think about the impact that you have on others (your family, your friends, your partner and in a bigger picture – society?)
How do you communicate with others and in what way do you contribute to this world? What feelings, reactions you awake in others?
If you are willing to work further, there is another exercise on asking feedback. You might want to select several people and work with them to receive their feedback on your strengths and areas of improvements (you can select your manager, your family members and friends – those who know you well and are interested in your growth).
You might be very surprised about your projections on the external world and what impact do you have on others.
And I absolutely love the quote from Andrea Pennington and invite you to remind yourself about it constantly:
You are a gift to the world. Become who you really are! Remember that you are more than your body, you are more than present illness or number on a scale, you are more than your passed successes or failures, you are full of potentials to make a difference in this life, starting with your own! Love yourself, accept yourself, embrace yourself and celebrate your uniqueness!
Wishing you an amazing week ahead,