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Issue 80

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In this issue ~~

* Who Am I?

* Action Challenge

* Wise Words

* Bookshelf

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Who Am I?

One of the challenges we face as we grow is a shifting sense of who we are.  As we learn new skills, take on new roles and become more experienced, the person we were becomes constricting, like a tight-fitting suit. We feel comfortable with our old self, but at the same time, we start chafing at the limitations. We want to become something more.

An outdated self-image can hinder us from moving forward into becoming the person we can be.  If I see myself as the shy outcast I was as a child and suddenly find myself a famous actor or artist, being showered with attention, it can shake my foundations. I may feel like a fake and doubt my ability to handle my new life and the new opportunities and accolades that come with it.

Who we are is not fixed and solid; it changes as we grow.  We all have a large cast of sub-personalities living within us.  When we're growing up, we unconsciously bring forward the parts of our personality that bring us love and approval and submerge the ones that don't.  So, the shy person always has the powerful one living quietly in the background, waiting to be noticed. The fearful or insecure person has a strong, confident persona waiting patiently for its cue.

Over time, we become comfortable with the personality we've developed.  It feels homey to us, and people who know us expect us to act in certain ways.  We may also feel that who we are going forward has to be a logical progression from who we were in the past.  When we take a big leap, we don't feel like ourselves, and people react to us strangely. They may try to pull us back into our old selves, sometimes in hurtful and discouraging ways.

The nature of life is to always keep growing, so we can either resist the change or flow with it and have some fun. As we begin to blossom, we can consciously call forth the latent parts of ourselves, and then reinforce them with new actions.  So, that shy person can bring out her people-lover or her "inner Tony Robbins."  She can then become more social, start speaking in front of small groups or audition for a community theatre.

We can further enhance our new self-image by giving ourselves a style makeover, with a new hairdo and a new way of dressing. As the old ways and environments become more uncomfortable, we may find ourselves gravitating to different types of people and activities that are more aligned with our new self.

As you can imagine, this life makeover can be scary or uncomfortable. You may be doing things you don't feel competent at. You may step into new activities that initially embarrass you and elicit strange reactions from people.  The important things are 1) to do it gradually and 2) to find a support system where you can get validation for your new self.

Start with baby steps. As a budding public speaker, for example, you can start by doing a presentation for 3 close friends in your living room, work up to joining Toastmasters or doing a talk at a local library, and grow from there. If you're moving into a new career or a personal pursuit, such as painting or a playing an instrument, start by taking beginners' classes to gain some skill, build confidence and meet other like-minded people, who can then become part of your support system.

While most of us, at least at some point, look to others to define us, the truth is, we all create ourselves. You're limited only by your imagination and your courage.  As you begin stepping out of your comfort zone, the exhilaration you'll feel will spur you on to bigger steps, and you may find yourself breaking out in other areas of your life as well.

Who you are is a lifetime exploration. Your essential self will always be there – and you'll discover a myriad of ways to express it – and you'll bring out exciting, and sometimes surprising new aspects of yourself as well. Becoming your new self can be empowering and exhilarating. Experiment, take small steps and be open to surprises – you can't even imagine the person you could be in 10 or 20 years!

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Action Challenge

Do something to change your self-image.  Wear a color or style you would never dare to wear, but would love to.  Challenge yourself to try something that scares you, like grabbing the mike at the karaoke bar or painting a self-portrait.  Give yourself permission to fumble or feel like a fool!

 

Wise Words

"Our lives can be powerfully shaped by what we long to become. I believe the dream of what might be is more important than the record of what has been."

~ Greg Anderson

"To be authentic is literally to be your own author (the words derive from the same Greek root), to discover your own native energies and desires, and then to find your own way of acting on them."

~ Warren G. Bennis

"You are the product of your own brainstorm."

~ Rosemary Konner Steinbaum

"Congratulate yourselves if you have done something strange and extravagant and broken the monotony of a decorous age."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Bookshelf

(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)

Who Am I?: The 16 Basic Desires That Motivate Our Actions and Define Our Personality . . . Steven Reiss, PhD

Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?:  Insights into Personal Growth . . . John Powell

Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential . . . Caroline Myss

Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World . . . Carol S. Pearson

The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do . . . John M. Oldham, MD, and Lois B. Morris

The 16 Personality Types: Descriptions for Self-Discovery . . . Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi

The Big Book of Personality Tests: 90 Easy-To-Score Quizzes That Reveal the Real You . . . Salvatore V. Didato

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© 2005 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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