Who am I & what have I learned?

How do you feel having answered last week’s questions? If you haven’t finished yet that’s Ok, this is not a race.

(If you’re new here, we’re in the middle of a review as we want to be sure that our dreams are supporting us – you can read more in my previous blog).

Let’s start by reviewing what you’ve already done by going back to the garden metaphor. By now you know what grew well & what didn’t, & which are the weeds.

This week you’ll be pulling out weeds & unhealthy plants & getting the soil ready for new planting. Then next week you’ll consider what you might want your new garden to look like.

So in terms of questions, this week is about letting go, considering who you are & what’s important to you.

As I said last week feel free to answer all the questions or none & in the way which works best for you. However, by now we both know that those you’re resisting are those you need to give your time to.

Shall we make a start?

1. What am I willing to let go of?

Last week you identified some dreams that are no longer serving you; you understand how you’re stopping yourself & the price you’re paying for holding on. And here’s Cheryl Strayed’s quote again to remind you why you’re doing this.

You’ve identified some dreams you’re completely ready to let go of & others that you might want to retain in part.

Your dream of being a mother might be in this second category. I’m guessing that your dream was to be a biological mother & we both know that it’s time to let it go. However, it may be possible to use your mother energy in a different way eg with your friends, family, at work or in a volunteering role. If this is something you’d like to do, you can come back to it next week.

I’ve already explained that my health dream is in this category, I definitely want to keep some of it so I’m exploring which those are & which elements I can let go.

How to let go

Rituals are important to us as they mark transitions and rites of passage. Throughout our lives we mark changes in our identity with ceremonies, but there’s no funeral for the loss of a dream. I devote Chapter 7 of Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness, (Letting Go or Letting In? You Decide) about this & there are many examples of how to draw a line in the sand so that when you step over it, you’re ready to move on.

One way is to hold a ceremony so I suggest you consider whether one would help you and what it might be. Examples include writing your dream on a sheet of paper, then burning it, burying it, or throwing it in a river or the sea. Perhaps spend a special time with your partner, or plant a tree or a rose bush in a place you can visit. The important thing is to do something to mark the ending of the dream & then notice how different you feel.

Each time I hold a ceremony I’m always surprised at how positive I feel afterwards therefore I encourage you to give it ago.

I realise that I’m asking you to do something hard & which may take a while. If you’re not sure why you should let go, you can find inspiration in my previous blogs . And if you haven’t yet had a ceremony feel free to continue with the questions; but please don’t postpone it indefinitely, because we both the price you’re paying to hold on.

2. I am

Until now you’ve been looking at things you’ve done; now it’s time to move on to who you are. I’ve divided this question into 2 parts, in the first you’re going to look for patterns in last week’s answers & then you’ll write some statements about who you are:

  • What do my achievements say about me/what did I learn?

Go back through last week’s answers & ask yourself these questions, dig beneath the surface to uncover what it took to achieve what you did & what you learned. Go deeper to uncover the reasons & patterns. Also look at your answers to question 6 about resilience, how you picked yourself up says a lot about who you are.

When I look at my lists, a couple of patterns jump out, one is curiosity. I’m willing to try new things especially around creativity. Another is that I’m determined & committed in some areas but not others (eg I was committed to study for my yoga training but not to stick to my health plan). This is interesting & something I’ll keep investigating because if I can harness more determination for my health it will help me hugely.

One of the main things I’ve learned these past few years is that I can’t do everything on my own; everything changes when I ask for help.

  • I am the sort of person who….

Again go through your achievements & write down statements about who you are. They may be short sentences or qualities; write down everything which comes to mind. Be sure to be balanced & to consider the patterns & lessons you learned; for me being English it’s harder to write down positive statements than the not so positive!

My statements include being the sort of person who feels energy moving round my body, is curious & willing to try new things & experiences, who uses the tools & techniques I’ve learned. I am someone who makes decisions & sometimes too quickly without thinking them through (a trait I’m still working on).

How do you feel after doing this? My aim with these questions is for you to have a balanced view of who you are, including statements which are empowering & other areas where you might wish to do more work.

3. What’s important to me, what are my values?

This is an edited extract from Finding Joy (Chapter 3, Who Are You? Finding Your Light).

Big picture – a value is what is important to you in any given context. They’re usually single words & they guide everything you do. What you value determines what life means to you; they’re the way you interpret what’s important to you & what makes you feel good.

Values determine your drive & behaviour, & can both motivate you & demotivate you. They affect your choice of friends, hobbies, interests, & how you spend your time; & if something doesn’t fit with your values, you won’t do it.

You may only become aware of them when they’ve been violated, (for example I get really annoyed when I see people dropping litter on the street), or when you become really passionate about something. The guilt you may feel if you let someone down is because you didn’t meet your values.

Core values are a way of being or believing that you hold most important in your life, & are unspoken rules & regulations by which you live. They’re the backbone of your life, your guide, your map & compass, sometimes described as your ‘North Star’. They are the essence of you, the core of who you are. Some may change over time, particularly with life circumstances, which is why it’s helpful to examine them regularly.

You will normally have around six core values, & they’re usually single words or short phrases. Among them can be: courage, making a difference, faith, love, compassion, fairness, fun, generosity, hope, kindness, peace, respect, recognition, spirituality, understanding, & wisdom.

Why are values important?

When you identify your core values & live in a way that’s aligned with them, something magical happens: you & they come alive in unexpected ways. You feel content, in harmony, & you have peace of mind, even in challenging times. They serve as your internal compass, & when you’re living authentically with them you’ll be moving closer to the life you really want.

Values light your way

Knowing your core values & operating in alignment with them will encourage you to move forward with your life. Also, if you want to do something challenging, you’ll be okay as long as the action you take is in alignment with them.

In her book ‘Rising Strong’, Brené Brown uses going into the arena to describe doing something challenging. She says, There are no guarantees in the arena. We will struggle. We will fall. There will be darkness. But if we are clear about the values that guide us in our efforts to show up & be seen, we will always be able to find the light. We will know what it means to live brave’.

As you move through life, there may be darkness & you will be challenged. Knowing your values will light your way. It’s almost as if you don’t have a choice. They’ll compel you forward in magical ways that may not always be comfortable, but will feel right.

For example two of my values are courage & growth & they propel me to explore new experiences. A couple of times what I’ve done hasn’t worked out but it was okay because I grew as a result of of the experience & I appreciate the courage it took to step forward.

Finding your values

There are a number of ways to find your values (there are 2 in Finding Joy), I’m recommending you look at a list of words & answer the question; ‘what’s really important to me?’ You can download further details & a list of values here.

Once you have your list you may wish to get creative & draw them on to a large sheet of paper, or find pictures that represent each of them. And if the word creative sends you into a tailspin, I understand. You can write them out, instead. Mine are on a board behind my desk so they are always at the edge of my consciousness.

Time to celebrate

Congratulations, this week I asked you to do take BIG action; you’ve pulled out weeds & unhealthy plants & you have a huge understanding of the soil. If you’ve done all of this, well done, & if you’ve made a start well done too. These are huge so please give yourself a pat on the back & take some time to celebrate everything you’ve achieved.

Next week you’ll start to consider what you might want your new garden to look like.

This week’s inspiration

Often fear arises when we start to do this work & each time I’m afraid of doing something I take inspiration from this beautiful poem by Khalil Gibran.

Shall we move together & become the ocean?

I’d love to hear how you’re getting on so far, how the questions resonate & what insights you’ve had.

Please leave a comment below or drop me an email.

 

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