Someone once told me that I was ‘too deep’…meaning, I presume, that I observed and analyzed, dissected and pondered things far too deeply. On face value, I took it as a criticism, until one day, I stepped back from my subjective position and looked at it from another perspective…and there it was, the revelation that, perhaps, the man in question, was just too shallow :). I make the point to illustrate that as human beings, we have a unique opportunity, to shift our perspective on matters…to look at them from a different vantage point, through another’s ‘eyes’. While this practice might well afford us a fuller, more complete view to a situation, we rarely take that opportunity. Especially when it comes to looking at our-selves.
My apparent propensity to think widely and deeply was further fueled by an introduction to the concept of ‘automation’ (through my study of Neuronet Therapy), as it relates to human brain function. You may have heard the phrase “it’s like riding a bike…you never forget”? Well that’s because the action of riding a bike, like driving a car, becomes an automated action, requiring minimal conscious thought. Our taxi drivers take this phenomenon to another extreme, but that’s another story! :).
Now just think how many things in our lives have become automated. How often do we question the reasons behind our daily thoughts, words and deeds? Well, while many around the globe are pre-occupied questioning the rationale behind Donald Trump’s behaviours, or distracted judging the actions of others in our ‘external’ world (even soap opera characters!), we are invariably missing valuable opportunities to look at the man/woman in the mirror. Countless studies, self-help gurus and sometimes our own consciences often point to the healthy practice of self analysis and reflection…beyond the annual job appraisal! The big question in these chaotic times should surely be, ‘how am I performing in the job of living my best life?’ Time to get INside deep and personal!
Curious about my own level of automaticity, in recent years I have undertaken to consciously observe myself more closely; in terms of what I do in awareness as opposed to what is an ‘auto-pilot’, learned or even triggered response/behaviour. Let’s call it a programmed response, because that is ostensibly what it is. How does one go about ‘observing oneself’ I hear you asking. This relatively uncharted journey of self analysis calls for tools that are both easily assimilated and robust. Allow me to share a strategy I am currently applying.
PUT YOUR AUDITORS HAT ON
Since we are approaching the end of the first quarter of 2019, let’s take an auditors approach. It can start with a simple question. Let me go first…
WHY AM I DOING THIS? [That’s me asking myself, about writing this feature].
Honest answer(s): The feature, because I’ve committed myself to writing a monthly blog for Sarifa Insurance Brokers. The subject matter, because I am currently conducting my own life audit and it’s amazing what it has uncovered! Overall, I really love sharing life uplifting strategies that work for me, with others.
I must also declare up front (as it seems like an advantage), that my being a woman who is gracefully (I hope) and mindfully starting the somewhat reluctant, and seemingly premature ascent on the staircase of chronological maturity, or in shorter Jamaican parlance…mi a go up inna age’, my ability to be super honest with and about myself has been naturally boosted.
YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE IT
If you’re in, it’s your turn!
We’re calling it our ‘1st Quarter Life Audit’, ok? So, I now invite you to start your personal audit, through the following stage by stage exercise. Like learning to ride that bicycle, it will be challenging at first, but after practice and repetition (key to automaticity), your level of self-awareness (‘awokeness’, to use a popularly used word) will increase many-fold. Off you go!
TESTING: First practice the big question. “Why am I doing this?”
Ask it now, out loud [HERE]. Ask it again [HERE]. Let it reverberate until you feel your own authority. As in, you feel compelled to answer your-selfJ. Good.
Imagine, yes, really imagine. I know it’s hard for some of us to delve into our imaginations, especially in these times of mass distraction. Too many adults, drifting into our head space may seem like childs-play or for those ‘with time on their hands’ (read nothing better to do). Unfortunately we have been dissuaded from using our creative minds, in many instances by well-meaning parents and brainwashed-out-of-all-creativity teachers when we dared to daydream. Let me explain. There is no judgement here. It is what it is. But it’s important that we look at ‘it’ from time to time. Yes I’m going to digress a little. Stick a pin at STAGE TWO…
I remember when my childhood friends would say, usually with excitement, “mek wi play priten!” or “let’s play pretend!” (depending on which group of friends I was with), and my mind would race to come up with the first magically created scenario to role play? I used to love those moments! [That must be why I am so into theatre]. I really hope that you can relate, wherever in the world your childhood took place. There was real magic in those moments. Even better if you read lots of fairytales and fictional story books. Without the shackles of adult issues (or perhaps because of them, for some), we the child-selves were able to escape into far off lands in our minds’ eyes, vicariously experiencing the excitement, joys and even love of the characters in the music filled stories. [Sound of vinyl record being scratched by a needle – those of you under 25 might have to google that sound…and image] No time for childish fantasizing now hey? Sadly, that’s why so many of us are stressed to the back teeth…I mean literally, feeling pain in the nerves of our teeth, because we have become toxic with an overdose of ‘busy-adult-ness’ that has smothered our imaginations and strangled our reflection time. So in a quest to restore both, let’s get back to that question.
Remember? Why am I doing this? Firstly, imagine you are doing what you were doing just before you started reading this article. It can be big or small. This is like the strand test before you dye your hair, only you ARE going to do this test. Now in that moment, ask your-self. Why am I doing this? Ask again if you feel to. I’ll wait. If you can, write down the first answer and/or feeling that rises in response.
NOTE: Really, the best time to ask is when you are just about to or in mid process of ‘doing/saying/thinking ‘it’. You catch yourself in the act so to speak, giving rise to a somewhat more intense realization. As in the test above, this can also be done in retrospect i.e. Why did I do that? But my gut feeling is that it is not as impacting. The chances of stopping an unhealthy, unwholesome, self-sabotaging or toxic behaviour are enhanced by the shock factor of ‘catching yourself’, mid flow. In a Psychodrama session, I might have the protagonist (client) sitting in a chair facing and questioning his ‘behaviour’, seeking answers to how ‘it’ serves him. But that’s another exercise. 😉
Now, starting tomorrow and in real time, repeat the above process 10 times each day for 7 days (Minimum); Before, during or after a meal, just about any time you remember and feel you want to question a current life situation or action.
Whether it is something you are about to do, or in the middle of doing, simply:
i. STOP (if you are driving, indicate and pull over first!)
ii. CLOSE YOUR EYES and slowly ask WHY AM I DOING THIS?
iii. FEEL when the honest answer comes to mind.
iv. Have a notepad nearby for instances when a long barrage of reasons flood forth. Or not.
v. There will sometimes be very clear, short answers like, “Because my bladder was full”. Remember, you choose when to ask the questionsJ. Have fun with it!
vi. If the answer is honestly, ‘I don’t know’, simply put a question mark against that ‘thing’ and give it further thought later, perhaps before you go to bed.
vii. Check up your answers at the end of each day and reflect further if necessary.
When you are in the swing of the exercise, gradually increase the dosage from 7 days @ 10 times per day to 28 days straight @ 15 times per day…one behaviour or thought at a time, until the habit of auditing is automated. Like riding that bicycle, you reach a point when you can take off the safety wheels and discern, in an instant, without having to ask the question, what is for you and what is not for you. That vibrational moment I understand to be resonance, or as the elders say…’your spirit tell you’.
The objective of this exercise is to become so honest and truthful with and about yourself that you trace the origin or source of your actions/reactions, thought patterns and beliefs. Many habits are formed from parental, cultural and ever-more-so, global influences, over many years, so don’t be too hard on yourself. It is said to take at least 28 days to curb/override an old, or form a new, habit. “Old habits die hard”, they say, because those aged habits are often well rooted, commonly practiced and…well, habitual. You may just be surprised which toxic habits, self-sabotaging/abusive behaviours, unrequited relationships will be red-flagged during this process. As you become consciously aware, try not to get vex with anyone else, or even me for that matter. Just focus on the fact that you now have ‘the handle’ and can make any required life adjustments.
On the positive side, in these instances of clarity, there are many re-ignited passions, re-affirmed truths and re-kindled creative expressions that will also present as audit outcomes. The bottom line is whether the habits you choose to break and those you (re)assume were/are in harmony with your best life and in the best interest of your authentic self.
It’s like taking a bird’s eye view of your life and making yourself accountable to YOU! You know the saying, wherever you go you will find your-self. So you might as well work at making your-self as pleasant and fun to be with as possible. I’m just saying.
WHY WOULDN’T I DO THIS?
Finally, be aware, as you conduct the audit, that your mental state, impacted by your biological state, as influenced by your dietary and sensory intake, will impact your ability to focus on and succeed in this mission. To optimize your audit results and achieve the best solutions, a simultaneous ‘health audit’ is highly recommended. You service your vehicle, right? Say no more. Self-development takes commitment and consistency. Believe me, as one who has fallen off the wagon from time to time…and again. So, in the same spirit that many of you got caught up in the social media challenge of having a bucket of ice water thrown over you, let me challenge you with something less traumatic! At this point, ask yourself another question…Why wouldn’t I do this?
BOB MARLEY GAVE US A CLUE…
In closing, just in case someone accuses you of being ‘too deep’ during and after this audit process, remember, only YOU are authorized to determine your own depth.