There is that old saying, “where ever you go . . . there you are”. Few folks are able to remove themselves from all the daily stimulants in order to truly understand what about their lives is LIFE and what about their lives is THEM. It is a daunting thought, but usually when life themes repeat themselves more than once or twice – it is worth taking a look in the mirror – an HONEST look . . .
- What about me attracts that type of relationship?
- What about my reaction to things makes me feel stressed all the time?
- What part do I play in friendships that don’t last?
These are just simple examples, but since we ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’ – it is true that often it is tough to be brutally honest with ourselves about those habits that create negativity in our world. The therapy model “Internal Family Systems” focuses on the fact that our childhood coping mechanisms, while protective and positive in some ways at the start, often become so consuming that they take the place of our authentic selves – and overpower gifts that we have within our core.
Before we disregard the judgments of others ( as I talked about in the Self Compassion Old Fashion), we must first be willing to evaluate ( not judge) ourselves so that we can act in our best interest and with our best integrity.
So, translating that to the Bali experience, imagine this inquisitive, talkative, highly energetic ( aka: hyper) Southern woman entering the land of the non-intrusive, quiet, non-demonstrative Indonesians! A good time to come to grips with the items on my character agenda that might need a little work!
The old adage of ‘fake it until you make it’ can be an actual tool when working on character changes – especially practicing with strangers who don’t have preconceived notions about your personality style. So, my goals were to (1) ask fewer questions (2) listen more ( rather than offering advice) and (3) process more internally and less verbally! These might sound like simple acts to some of you, but as an analytical extravert – it is painful!
I am working on having more instructional internal conversations ( come on, we all have those conversations) as I approach ‘triggers’; encouraging myself to withhold natural tendencies to just see what happens. Less questions becomes better listening; better listening often encourages more from the stranger ( thus answering some of the internal questions!); and more internal processing allows for being more present with the world around me.
Being away from all things familiar may be the perfect time to ‘experiment’, but in each day, there are opportunities to tweak internal habits that ultimately bring us consternation. Go to a grocery store that is not close to home; change your approach on a support-line call; go shop in a store that you never would. Try on a little different personality – you might just like how it fits!
WANT TO TAKE A DRINK?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- When I meet a stranger my initial behavior is:___________________.
- I interact with others by (a) being positive and talking about good things (b) addressing negatives and stresses.
- When I think about people I wish I were more like, I think of ___(name person)___________ because __(name the behavior)___________.
- I wish that I could be more _______________ ( honest, assertive, dynamic, interactive, etc) with others, but I don’t feel comfortable because ___(describe the thought, feeling, fear that stops you)________.
Now, use your responses to create a plan, go to an unfamiliar place and try on a different style – it may suit you!
Courage to you all!
PS: I would like to thank my dear friend Kuei Min for her insightful artwork – the courage cocktail with heart-felt base and wisdom garnish!