When I think about what brings me down, I think of when the reality of a situation is different from what I want or need, or different from the idea of what I think is good for me.
I have come to the understanding that it is my mindset of how things seem to me that makes me respond both emotionally and behaviorally. When this happens, I try to look at what is happening from a different perspective.
I try to see if the situation I am facing could also be something I want, need.
This is tricky to do at times, especially when I remain in the mindset in which I experience the negative emotional and behavioral response; Albert Einstein once said that you cannot solve problems with the same mindset that created them in the first place.
I’ve found that mindsets correlate with our roles in life. As a parent, I still think and act in a certain way that specifically belongs to that role, even at work and in my personal life.
In this mix, I see my roles as aspects of myself, which correlate at the pace of what is happening in each role’s environment. It is more the “doing” part of me than the “being” part of me.
For example, your behavior as a parent changes along with the needs of your child as she or he grows older.
When it comes to needing a new approach, you should step out of the role and its mindset and look at it from a neutral position that is less attached to the “idea” of what is good. Creating this distance is easy to learn, as you simply have to find the clarity that comes with knowing your natural self, and the roles you assume from there.
The natural self is who you are by default—the essence of you that has always been there. Think of the time you were a child, a teenager and your adult years up to now. Yes, our life experiences enrich how we view and perceive the world—but there is always the “deeper” self, the “naturally inclined” self, at the core of who we are.
Here are five steps to recover this original version of you:
Step One: Define Your Roles
Take three separate sheets of paper and name and define the personal you, the professional you, and the leisure you. Define each with the characteristics that belong to that role. Please note there is no right or wrong way of doing this; simply note down whatever arises from within you. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself in this exercise.
Step Two: Define the World of the Roles
Take each role and write down what kind of world this role lives in. Describe this in any way you feel is comfortable or easy to you.
Step Three: Define the Role’s Significant Moments
Choose a few defining moments that you’ve experience in that role since you’ve taken or become it and consider how the role developed into the way it is today.
For instance, for the role of a husband, you can choose your wedding day, a period when you had to support your spouse emotionally—and even when you survived a rocky patch in your marriage.
Step Four: The Natural Self
Arrange the sheets in a semicircle in front of you. Then, take another sheet of paper and write down which characteristics or elements from your personal, professional and leisure roles represent what you believe is your natural self—and what isn’t your natural self.
Step Five: The Essence of the Natural Self
Define the characteristics of your natural self and describe in what kind of circumstances you feel most content and at ease. Note your preferences for situations and the people that surround you in them.
For example, if you choose adventurous, you might define it as outdoor sports—and your prefered situation or company might be wall climbing and camping out in the desert with your old friends from college.
The natural self is more of the person you are deep inside; it is a state of being instead of a state of mind.
This state of being is not set in stone; it is simply a place where your deeper values and beliefs rest—call it your natural preferences if you like.
It is useful to understand yourself like this, as it is from where you assume your roles in life.
When it comes to making the most out of situations that feel wrong to you, take a step back into the natural self state of being, smile, and carry on.
Be naturally you.
Bartholomeus Nicolaas Engelbertus enables people and organisations to thrive in change. He is the author of The 7 Step Guide for Resilience and Thrive: How to Have More Upsides in Times of Change (Spring 2013). He is an avid surfer and black belt Bujutsu martial artist with a business degree. He works globally and when not away from home, he enjoys his time in his beloved Celtic lands of Cornwall. Find out more on his website.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise