Archive for the ‘Transformation’ Category

Dipping Our Toes in the Proverbial Waters

December 8, 2015

Re-booting means different things to different people, but the common denominator for all of us is that it involves significant change in how we both live and think about our lives. Transformations such as these are likely to strike fear in anyone’s heart, no matter how excited we are by the possibilities. “Free at last!” we whisper to ourselves, followed by an enormous sigh of relief. But such actions require significant expenditures of energy and dedication—they don’t occur in one fell swoop, which is why most of us need to get used to the idea.


Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article about a defensive player for the Carolina Panthers, Josh Norman. Apparently, Norman is one of the hottest, most unpredictable players in the NFL these days and a good part of his success is due to the fact that each week he assumes the persona of a different action hero. When it comes to re-booting, we can learn a lot from Josh Norman.


Internal change comes slowly; our realization that something about our life doesn’t quite fit any longer float to the surface of our awareness a little bit at a time, but then it lodges there like a splinter, making it difficult to ignore. That’s the first thing that happens at the precipice of change. Next, we allow ourselves to speculate. “What would my life be like if X? What would I be like?” Such temptations beckon us forward; often, it is at this moment when we pull back at the thought of the trade offs, sacrifices, and unknowns that would be involved. Trading the known for the unknown? Yag. Which is why taking a cue from Josh Norman’s lead is so useful. We can try things out. We can experiment. We can say dodge left instead of right and see what happens, see how we feel and then reassess…


Think of it as if you are pushing against the boundaries of your selected character, not your own. That makes it safer, right? Because you’re pretending, it feels less dangerous. You can drop this act anytime you want…How empowering would it be for someone who is shy to temporarily inhabit the character of someone who was alpha? Or if you have always been “in charge” of everything and suddenly, you give up those burdens and leave it to somebody else to worry about. What must that be like?


In the depths of my despair several years ago, I used the adage “fake it ‘til you make it” to get me up in the morning and cobble together some purpose for doing so. I pretended to be happy when I was not. I acted as if I believed in myself and my future when I couldn’t see the point of moving through the next hour. I wasn’t trying to fool anybody when I did this, but because I knew and I trusted that life had to get better however impossible feeling that seemed, I acted in the manner of someone who was already there. Who already knew how good life can be. And eventually, a little bit at a time, her enthusiasm and confidence had an impact on mine. I took my cue from her.


This is what I want for you.


We all have aspects of ourselves about which we are curious. These untapped talents or interests lay dormant; sometimes they frighten us, sometimes they seem too wonderful to be trusted, and sometimes they simply provide a refuge from the headaches of our ordinary lives. They way I envision it, it’s as if I am staring at myself from across a river, trying to figure out who this person is and how I get more of her into my life, even if I’m not sure she’s everything I want to be. I’ve lived this long without her, so I can keep going status quo is what I tell myself. But the truth of the matter is, we’re changing all the time! We grow from one stage of life to another: from child to young adult to mature adult to elderly. But independent of chronology, there are also elements of our own unique personalities that whisper to us, offering up a chance to be someone other than who we are today.


What whispers to you?


Inhabiting different film characters enables Josh Norman to summon various parts of himself that he doesn’t ordinarily call upon. This practice provides him with different energy and a different way of approaching his opponent. Studying the characters makes him rethink things from the character’s perspective and not his own–resulting in him being a highly unpredictable and effective player. And on top of this, he winds up having a whole lot more fun.


Wouldn’t you like to have more fun?


I write this because we need different strategies for cajoling ourselves out of our little workaday ruts. Who is it you want to be? Try it out for a day and see what happens. For instance, let’s say you’re a slob who wishes to live a clutter free life. What if you spent one day, just one day, inhabiting the character of a organized, OCD neat freak, sorting and discarding your mail the very hour you receive it? Or perhaps you’re the shy one in the office, maybe you try to be outgoing at next week’s holiday party—even if for only twenty minutes. You’re not you, you’re Super Social Clark Kent! Somebody else entirely. Or maybe you try one Sunday night to be the “relaxed mom” who doesn’t worry whether or not her kids clothes are laundered. If they’re dirty, oh well. You don’t have to do it forever, you just have to try it on for size.



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