Seeing What We Need

There’s an ad on tv for an eyeglasses shop which promises that if you walk into their store and purchase their wares, you’ll walk out “a better you.” Really? Wow! That’s an awfully big promise for something as small as spectacles. While this is not a novel strategy for advertisers, it got me thinking: if I could enter a miracle-working store to change something important about my life, which counter would I visit firstWhat about you? Which display offers you something you know you should upgrade? Your appearance? Your physical vitality level? Your career? Your temperament? Your chronic, low-level insecurity? Quick, what’s going to make you a “better you?” 

Is what you’d change external or internal? What makes that one characteristic so significant?

The thing about questions such as these which makes them useful is that they can help us spotlight the discrete elements we consider most pressing. It’s sort of like having to flee one of those California wildfires or the more recent Colorado floods, where you don’t have time to think and must grab those things that mean the most. Since you can’t throw your kitchen sink into the back of your car, all the extraneous stuff really does fall away. So, I’m asking you to do this from a non-materialistic perspective.

Who is your Ideal Self? What qualities does he or she possess that you wish you had?

In a society where nearly all our physical needs are met and advertisers continually attempt to seduce us into wanting some beautiful, intriguing extra, we wind up investing way too much importance in stuff that won’t make us “better” despite all their glittering promises. As a re-booter, you know this. The painful challenge lies in being sufficiently daring to identify and articulate what it is we find missing in ourselves and how we might formulate a plan to cultivate that valued trait. The truth is, we get to make such choices each and every day, whether as a result of the most mundane of interactions or dramatic stresses.

I’ll give you an example from my life. A couple of years ago, when I was deep in the throes of having an important relationship devolve and explode in my face, there were several instances when bait was set out for me—in the hopes that I would greedily devour this poison pill while inflicting a certain amount of harm on my way down. I knew this would happen and I recognized the grenades as they were rolled out. But, what guided my choices during these moments was my absolute determination to conduct myself the way I knew my Very Best Self wanted me to behave, no matter how momentarily satisfactory lashing out might feel. So, when it really mattered—in the heat of the moment—I reminded myself of my choice and went to that place of self-restraint and dignity. This was the counter I chose in order to be a “better me.” It was hard and humbling at the time, but you know what? I’ve never bemoaned this decision; and, as the years progress, I am ever more grateful that I made the choices I did, when temptation to do otherwise was oh, so strong. We can never take back actions we regret, no matter how much we wish otherwise. I am deeply grateful that I don’t have to lament my behavior at such a critical juncture in my life. I acted from a place of who I wanted to be—positive, aspirational values, as it were–literally reminding myself in those hateful moments that I didn’t want, “to be the sort of person who behaved lesser.”

This is just an example of visiting a counter to tap into our Best Self. What I needed, at that point in my life, was to summon the dignity and self-restraint in order to remain on the high road, to remain in a place where I could feel proud of myself. But under different circumstances, it could be tapping into our stores of self-confidence at a time when everything tells us we don’t have a “chance.” Or, perhaps you wish to make peace with a painful part of your past that has hitherto dictated way too much sway over your present.

My point is this: I’m trying to encourage you to push yourself to identify your biggest gap or need that stands between the You Right Now and your Ideal You. My hope is that you will summon the courage to walk into the “miracle store,” swap out your old prescription for the attitudes your Best Self requires, and leave a “better you.” It’s all about selecting the right new set of specs.

For those of you who consider this post a bunch of bunk, I ask you to reflect upon a time when you resolved to act from that best part of yourself during a stressful situation or relationship, how amazingly fast things fell into place after that, and how glad you are about your decision. It’s not bunk. You need to identify what it is you’re missing and then claim it, the way your Ideal Self would want you to do. No purchase required.

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One Response to “Seeing What We Need”

  1. Deborah La Gorce Says:

    I think this is one of your very best. I must submit that in my many, many years, the High Road has an awful lot of twists and turns, and a few dead ends, but it is always worth the search. Just don’t get too lost. And if you sometimes do lose your way…well…so what? Loss, like Life, is, after all,only temporary. And the earlier one figures out that aspect of the mystery, the longer one will have to appreciate the wonder.

    Really a good, thoughtful one! XXO

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