Monday, February 01, 2010

5 Ways to Shake Hands with Yourself

Sometimes we forget who we are.

So much so, that we almost need to reintroduce ourselves to ourselves.

Here are five ways for doing so:

1. Develop an orientation toward self-confrontation. I never placed much value on self-confrontation until I started doing yoga. Talk about instant reeducation. I quickly discovered that when you’re faced squarely with your half naked body in a full-length mirror in the company of forty half-naked, sweaty strangers for ninety minutes straight, you have no choice but to confront your truth.

Literally. No metaphor needed. There’s no better way to remember who you are. Or how badly you need a shower. And, it’s amazing what you learn about yourself in this kind of arena. What’s more, once the bug of self-confrontation bites you, you begin to crave it in other areas of your life.

And that’s when the REAL learning begins. Because you notice patterns about yourself. Some disturbing, some refreshing. I hope you, too, will find a regular venue of honesty and reflection that suits your style. When was the last time you honestly confronted yourself?

2. Establish an expectation-free support structure. My friend Dixie once told me, “Who other people want you to be is the most destructive wrapping paper of all. In fact, it's mummy wrap disguised as wrapping paper. And once we believe in THEIR version of ourselves, we’re merely ghosts of our real selves.”

The secret, Dixie says, is to surround yourself with people who celebrate whoever you are – right now. Perhaps it’s worth sitting down and mapping out the five people that are currently occupying most of your time. Then, honestly asking four questions:

*Am I being fair to myself by continuing this relationship?
*Does this person enrich my life in any way?
*Is this person helping me create a future that I’m going to feel obligated to be a part of?
*Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?”

That should help filter out the type of people whose expectations are causing you stomach cramps. Once they’re gone, you can fully and freely focus on investing your time and energy in expectation-free relationships.

Remember: Few things are more painful than putting yourself in situations where you regret allowing people to participate in your life. What would it cost you NOT to stand up for your boundaries here?

3. Customize a system for exposing your blind spots. The term “blind spot” isn’t just an idiom or catchy pop song lyric. It originates from the Greek word scotoma, or darkness. And, at the risk of getting WAY too anatomical, check this out. Optometric literature reports that your blind spot is the place in the visual field in which there are no cells to detect light on the optic disc. This is what prevents a certain part of the field of vision from being perceived.

Interesting. Sounds like your challenge is fourfold. First, accept the existence of your shadow. You have one, and you need to shake hands with it.

Second, surround yourself with people whose thinking is perpendicular to your own. By virtue of intellectual diversity, their provocations will sneak into the dark corners of your truth and expose your unperceivables.

Third, give these people permission to look out the rear window of your life and tell you whether or not that 18-wheeler is merging into your lane.

Finally, listen. Listen loudly. Take notes if you have to. Then, thank these people for exposing your blind spots and reminding you who you are. Not even the best Lasik surgery in the world can see that stuff. Remember: Sometimes we’re too close TO ourselves to see the truth ABOUT ourselves. How are you shedding light on YOUR blind spots?

4. Hit the page patiently. If you start (and KEEP) writing – for at least fifteen minutes, every single day – it’s amazing what shows up. Ideas you can’t believe you had. Thoughts you’re amazed came from your brain. Insights about yourself that knock your own socks off.

The tricky part is, you can’t force it. You have to patiently wait for insight to emerge. That’s why fifteen minutes is the absolute minimum. That’s (usually) how long it takes from the moment you turn on the faucet to the moment the water is warm enough to tolerate.

Almost like spending two hours at driving range, hitting shanks all morning, then suddenly crushing a frozen rope three hundred yards down the fairway right as that cute girl walks by. That’s the way creativity works: You have to clear away the crap before you bring forth the bounty. How much money is being impatient costing you?

5. Humor is the gateway to truth. In his 2010 postmortem autobiography, Last Words, George Carlin wrote, “No one is ever more herself than when she really laughs. When you make someone laugh, you’re guiding her whole being for the moment.”

If you want to remember who you are, never forget what makes you laugh. Ever. Even if you find humor in unexpected moments that most people would deem unfunny, inappropriate or perverse. Like that time I saw a three hundred pound woman at Kroger whose wheelchair was so heavily weighed down with groceries, she actually had to start putting food BACK on the shelf just to get the wheels turning again.

Whatever. That’s funny. I say: Laugh anyway. Laugh so hard you pee, cry and puke at the same time. Laugh so loud the people five rows behind you look over to see if your oxygen mask was accidentally filled with Nitrous.

Here’s the reality: Denying laughter is denying truth. Telling someone she can’t laugh is like tell someone she can’t be herself. And if there’s one thing you should never, ever have to apologize for, it’s that which makes you crack up. How many comedy albums do you own?

REMEMBER: We all need help remembering who we are.

I challenge you to shake hands with yourself this week.

How will you remind yourself who you are?

For the list called, "23 Ways to Bring More of Yourself to Any Situation," send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!