We do love new beginnings. Times when we get to wipe away what was left undone and truly focus on the future. Perhaps it is my personality style. I recently took the ENNEAGRAM Test online (http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ – cost 10 bucks) to discover many things I already knew about my personality, but also to be the recipient of how to improve me tools – the part that offers suggestions on how to become healthier. This is a part of the personal coaching in which I am investing for 2011. Part of my personality (The Enthusiast) is that I love to plan and look forward to the future. Sometimes that beats the heck out of doing the work for today. Regardless, it is an excellent test to get feedback on your strengths and your not-so-strongs. No judgment involved, just an follow-up report that can offer you ideas and suggestions for becoming a healthier personality. I will take that any and every time I can get it.
One of the parts of my personality style is that I’m impulsive. The report suggested that I attempt to stop acting on my impulses, but to notice when I am feeling them. I’m impulsive when it comes to signing up for online classes, buying books, looking for the next miracle makeup or skin cleaning regime, buying clothes, and looking for (and purchasing) shoes for my feet that don’t work so well anymore. Hammer toes and numbness. Such fun. I realized some time ago that I’m not really looking for new shoes. I am seeking new feet. So for this past week, I have been particularly aware of my impulse drives. I would suggest (to me) that I begin writing them down much like one can keep a food diary. I will keep an impulse diary. I imagine that these impulses come from other empty spots inside, but I don’t want to get into that today. Just be aware, and don’t act. Regarding such impulsiveness, I have read that it is a great idea to leave credit cards at home so that one has to truly decide they want to use one instead of seeing that purse that I MUST have, and grabbing it on the spot. Trouble with that idea is that I do much of my impulse buying online. I suppose I could shred the credit cards but that gives me such shivers, I do not want to think about it. Apparently, I have a long way to go with my impulsive behavior.
Another healthier route for me is to stop answering and fixing things for everyone. I did begin practicing this several years ago. It is my nature to jump in and fix everything. I remember an argument I had with my middle son when he was in high school. He screamed, “you can’t fix everything!” Why do I still remember that? I’m sure we had many arguments, but that is one of those that stands out distinctly. He was right. What I have also discovered is that I no longer want to fix everything. When others have problems and difficulties, it does not help them to grow when I jump in (with either experience or inexperience) and save. I can suggest if I so wish, but not do. Therein is the important point. Saving vs. rescuing. If you happen upon my blog semi-regularly, you will see this theme emerge semi-regularly. As parents, friends, siblings, children, we don’t help people when we continue to save them. They do not discover their own unique abilities to solve their problems by having us continue to do that for them. Even though my belief in god (or a higher power) is regularly challenged, I do believe that the relationship (if we choose to have one) offers us the experience of the perfect parent – there to call on for help if we choose to have belief, but not to step in and save us directly. Unconditional love, but not a fix-all parent. We are allowed to fall on our faces as many times as we want or as many times as happens, or as many falls as life hands us, but we must learn to get up and face out in the morning. We must learn to overcome our own problems. Do our children get to experience their consequences when we save or fix for them?
There were quite a few more lessons in the report, but these are lessons that I will read throughout this year, use in my personal coaching experience to overcome the bricks and mortar that I build in my pathway. I will keep you apprised of the accomplishments and setbacks of this experience as I stumble along this new path I have planned for myself. In addition I am working through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I believe the two experiences will go hand in hand, and I hope eventually to teach The Artist’s Way in my UU fellowship. Most of these plans have to do with “unblocking” my writing so that, in the last 1/3 of my life, I can become prolific. Which is very much what I want.
I ask this question a lot – what are your plans for 2011? You might not be an enthusiast, and I can hear many groans out there. What is the point of creating resolutions? Just to disappoint yourself because you won’t accomplish them? In the 12 step program, we advise that you keep getting back in the saddle. Once you find out that you’ve fallen off, get back on. Don’t judge, criticize, berate, argue, or otherwise abuse yourself. What’s the point? If you are like most people I know, you do a pretty good job of that without extra effort. Simply get back in the saddle. Ooops – I haven’t exercised for 2 months. Go do it. Don’t grab a donut. Grab your walking shoes, and just go. Don’t get defensive, mad, sad, or fatter. Don’t think, just do. Perhaps that would have been a better Nike ad. Don’t think, just do.
I was chatting with my brother last night who has rather severe back pain. He’s a tiny little thing, so it isn’t weight related pain. I asked if he stretched regularly. No. He keeps meaning to do it the first thing in the morning to warm up for the day. I said, don’t put it in that kind of category. Anytime you feel the pain, stretch. We went through a few. You lift something and feel the pain? Drop and do a few stretches. Take better care of you. If that is your new year’s resolution, decide how you want to do it. Do it before you go to bed. Or do it at lunch. Or at a 10:00 break. The important thing is to develop the habit, see the results, and become more motivated. Don’t think, just do.
Another story – I have a good friend who is occasionally verbally abused by her friend. She was relating to me her conversation of how she told him in an equally verbally abusive conversation that clearly that she wasn’t going to put up with it anymore. It wasn’t going to happen another time. I asked her what were the repercussions? How would she stop it? She seemed confused at the idea. It simply isn’t enough to say, “this won’t happen again”. There must be consequences. End the relationship? If that is too much, take a break from it for a specific time? Even more deeply, get some help as to why you put up with such an abusive person? Everything has consequences. For 2011, think about the consequences of not caring enough for you.
Here’s to the new year, and my being the Enthusiast. I have enough enthusiasm for both you and me. Want to play? Make some plans. Write them down. Reach a little higher than you think you can get. It’s all up to you. I can encourage if you will play.