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Becoming who we'd like to be requires some attention to detail, says life coach Jan Aitken.
Hands up if you've ever found yourself reacting to someone, or something, then afterwards cringing at what you said or did.
For example: ‘‘I'm so embarrassed I was so rude to...'' or maybe you find yourself leaning on the horn when driving and making hand gestures to other road users for fairly minor reasons!
Hands up if you find yourself repeatedly complaining or groaning about an aspect or circumstance of your life. For example: ‘‘I'm so tired'' or ‘‘I'm always rushing''.
I'd bet that most of us would have had two hands in the air! At some stage in our lives we've all behaved in a way that we weren't proud of, or we had parts of our daily lives that aren't how we want them to be.
We all have a choice about how we behave and respond to the various things life dishes up to us. Looking at how we behave can give us a good start at taking control of some of the events around us, making some changes and potentially removing some stress points.
We need to be honest with ourselves about some of the not-so-nice parts of our behaviour or circumstances and identify what we want to change. Once we've identified those things we can start to figure out why we behave like we do.
It's important to take responsibility for ourselves; no-one makes us respond or behave in a certain way, it's all up to us.
This can be a bit of a sticking point for some people as it can be easier to blame someone else rather than take ownership of this stuff ourselves. Taking ownerships puts responsibility for it fair and square in our court and we might have to do something about it!
I think of it as looking at ‘‘who we are'' (what we say or what we do and how we respond) versus ‘‘who we'd like to be'' (how do we want to respond, what would we rather say or do).
To help get a better understanding the following exercise may help.
WHO AM I? WHO DO I WANT TO BE?
We spend so much time in our lives ‘‘doing'' things we forget to work out ‘‘who'' we really are.
When we know who we are we can align our decisions, our actions and our lives around the ‘‘real me''. The payoff is less stress and more enjoyable living.
WHO AM I?
Write descriptive words or phrases to describe yourself as you think you are now.
For example: tired, impatient, fun, always late, disorganised, caring etc.
1. Now take each of the words or phrases that describe something you want to change and think about what it is you ‘‘do'', what's your behaviour around each of the descriptions and make notesE.g. Tired: not enough sleep.
Always late: rushing all the time.
Impatient: hurry the children along, shout at them in the morning.
2. Then think about why you behave or feel this way.
E.g. Tired: read until midnight.
Always late: don't leave enough time to get where I want to go.
Impatient: always late looking for shoes and jackets etc, getting lunches sorted.
3. What can you change and do differently?
E.g. Tired: read until 10.30pm.
Always late: plan my day allowing for the traffic and leave 10 minutes earlier.
Impatient: get their clothes ready the night before, get up 15 minutes earlier to make lunches. Maybe figure out ways to get the children to take on some of the responsibility for those early morning tasks.
WHO DO I WANT TO BE?
Now write a list of words that describe who you want to be (some may still be the same, chances are they'll be the positive words from the first exercise).
Would making some of those changes in section 3 allow you to be that person you want to be? If the answer is ‘‘yes'' then you know what you have to do.
Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.
For more go to www.fitforlifecoaches.co.nz.