Who are you? Change the intonation a little and ask, again: Who are you? Now, again: Who are you?
Who do we each want to be in our lives? And in the lives of our loved ones, and others? What sort of impact do you want to make in the world? These are big questions, I know. And they might make you squirm a little. Or you might find them so familiar because, like so many of the people I work with, you may be struggling with that nagging tug of trying to figure out what your life is all about, at this new time in our history.
I hear my 40/50/60-something clients realizing that, “Everything has changed so much, and I want a new kind of lifestyle, or a new way to use my skills – and I don’t think the experience I have will translate to anything else.” Scary stuff, this identity shift change/transition. (Or, is it an identity awakening?) Trying not to pay attention to these thoughts takes a lot of mental energy. My life’s work has been about helping people free up their energy and move into their lives with clarity and even peace (!) by taking a good look at themselves and what their talents and interests are.
I find that the number one thing for all of us to consider is that we are not “human doings”, but “human beings”. There’s a lot of talk about mindfulness meditation in the press lately. As a lifelong meditator I am absolutely a fan of sitting down and being silent, still, and being with myself to let something new arise – or become clear – inside of me. Sitting still this way, with a non-judgmental way of noticing, choosing to sit with oneself even when it gets uncomfortable emotionally or even physically, can awaken new insights. I know that mindful awareness practice gives me an opportunity to see what the mind is really churning out. Often it’s not very friendly! And we can transform that.
Sometimes it’s important to ask, “Who would I be if I weren’t afraid or doubting myself at this time?” Trite, you may say, but stop and consider just how much confidence we lose when we’ve lost a someone, or a job, or we get less than glowing feedback from a boss – who may just be a terrible manage. When we relax and remember who we are (this takes time and some effort, when we’re depleted from stress and worry), we get back to that resourceful and creative person who knows how to get all sorts of things done; back to being the person we like to be.
Here are 5 tips for returning to that person you love to be:
1) Take time to step away from the computer and get out into nature. You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating. We are animals who need outdoor movement, and sun and air.
2) If you’re feeling lost and like you aren’t doing your life’s work, see if you can lean into to trust. Trust that you will find or stumble upon your calling as you follow your nose, and just trust that it is coming. I know that I have endured times when I was ready to throw in the towel, and clients of mine have also experienced this. With encouragement and the ability to listen and hear ourselves – then suddenly being in the right place at the right time – opportunities present themselves.
3) Learn about yourself to know your gifts and skills. My clients are so surprised and delighted to recognize themselves and their inherent talents. When we shut off the inner battering that we inflict on ourselves, we can remember ourselves and shine.
4) Do some research to find out what little steps can bring you closer to what you really want. Take a class to test your interest, reach out to someone on LinkedIn who does something that looks interesting to you.
5) Make a list of your options. I mean really write down everything from the wildest to the most mundane options that you have, right now. We all have choices, but we forget that when gripped by self-doubt and fear. This activity can offer enough relief for you to see clearly again, to make choices with clearer sight, and to return you to your preferred self.
There are many ways you can go about finding the answer to that most important question. Make time for yourself, and enjoy the process.
Daisy Swan, is a career coach and mindful awareness meditation teacher, living in Sag Harbor who has worked with clients across the country for over 20 years. You can learn more about her and her work by visiting her Facebook page and at www.21stCenturyAttention.com