So I'm a bit of a TV junkie. I like to watch different types of shows to give me a momentary disconnect from reality. It's my chance to live vicariously through others. As I watched one my favorites, Grey’s Anatomy, I had a moment of true connection with the message. I'm not saying that happens often, but it definitely does from time to time. In this particular episode, one of the main characters tried to examine her own life as she helped a patient decide if it was time to end his own journey on life support. I have to say, it was a truly impactful moment for me. Such simple and thought-provoking questions can stop you in your tracks.
From time to time, we all need to evaluate where we are, where we are going and what comes next. The thought-provoking questions from were:
- Do you know who you are?
- Do you know what happened to you?
- Do you want to live this way?
My friend, Bonnie, and I discussed this episode and what it meant to each of us. See, we like to be partners in crime to help save the world. We have interesting conversations about life, our values and who we want to be. Sometimes it's a discussion of the good old days but most of the time, we are strong women looking to the future for opportunities to make our mark on the world.
Bonnie decided to try the exercise to see how she would answer those three simple questions. Once I saw her answers, I felt a strong need to share it. This is a peek into Bonnie's inner dialog. It may be a very similar radio message playing in your own head.
Do you know who you are?
“My first reflex is to be a smart alec. Of course I know who I am, I am Bonnie. Once I get that out of the way, I ask myself again.
This time I scratch the surface a bit. I am Dot and Ed’s daughter, a sister, a friend. Then I dig deeper, and recite from my resume, performance reviews, report cards, draft text for a yet to be posted online dating profile. I resist the urge to go all Meredith Brooks on you and start singing “I am b----, I’m a lover…” Ok…I don’t really resist that…I sing the few words I know, hum a bit then move on. I get a little more serious. I remember my dad telling me I was a hard worker. It was his response when he heard my husband had left me. Dad meant it to be reassuring; you are smart, you work hard, you will be ok. All good messages, but at the time I just really needed to hear I was lovable. So let me try again.
My mind settles down and finally embraces this question. This question that sounds so simple yet requires so much thought. And so much rides on the answer. I take a long look at myself. I let the negative committee in my head have their say. They say I am middle aged, overweight and a wall flower. I know better, and once I let them have their say I tell them they will have to meet another time. But I also know at some point I need to roll up my sleeves, shine my flashlight into my soul and find out the answer to this question for myself.
The answer to this question will become my core, my center, the foundation for any decision I need to make.”
Do you know what happened to you?
“The easy answer here is that life happened to me. It is what happens to all of us. I don’t want to marginalize the importance of this question. You have to know how you got to where you are, so you can better plot your next course. I’ll need to examine this next. The negative committee that lives in my head is going to have a field day with this one. I will need to remind them that there are no mistakes, just lessons to be learned.”
Do you want to live this way?
“And here is the jackpot question. Once I have a strong foundation of who I am, and a good grasp of how things came to be, I’ll have the centered core to decide whether I am on the right path and if not, it is never too late for changes.”
What I know from seeing Bonnie’s responses is that life definitely happens. It happens to all of us. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes you have no idea what hit you. As a coach, the most important question of this series really is “Do you want to live this way?” I believe in the power of choice. Fears hold us back from making the best choices for ourselves, but I’ve dedicated my life now to helping people answer these very questions and move forward to a life that they deserve.
So you may be asking, how can I answer the three simple questions for myself. Knowing your values is the first step to self-awareness. I want to share a simple and quick exercise:
- Write down 5 words that capture who you are (example: loving, accomplished, honest)
- Send a text to 5 friends and ask them for 5 words that describe you
- Write down 5 words that you believe strangers would say about you after just meeting you
Once you have all of them, do a comparison. If they’re vastly different, you are likely wearing a mask to be accepted. What would it be like to always be true to who you are and know that people are going to love you?
The next step is to understand how you got there. What pushes your buttons? Why does it push your buttons? How does it conflict with the values you noted?
The final step is consciously choosing your thoughts and actions. Reframe the situations in your life and find the lesson or gift that will propel you forward to who you want to be and how you want to live.
If you can relate and want to kick-start a journey to self-awareness using the support of people who’ve been there, reach out to me at http://www.ndcoaching.com. Together we can explore a few options to get you started.
I would love to hear your story! No matter what the transition or where you are in it, there is so much opportunity surrounding your future.