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Who Do You Think You Are and Is It Limiting You?

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 Jen Callan/TinyBuddha

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” ~Pema Chodron

One of my yoga teachers, Johanna Aldrich, inspired me to inspect what I “thought” I was.

“This is what I am, this is what I am not, this is what I do, this is what I don’t do, this is what I like, that is what I don’t like.” All the stories and behavior patterns gathered in 40+ years that I had created to define me.

Of course, I had reasons and whys behind all of these things I “thought” I was. I had tried a few of those things and long ago made my decisions but in some cases had never even tried. Some of the reasons were real and some were imagined.

But what are these things really but just stories?

They’re the stories that we tell ourselves over and over again in order to feel comfortable or hide from difficult realities. I avoided many things with my stories so I wouldn’t have to experience failure and disappointment—just wanting to feel loved, good enough, part of something. 

It’s interesting to me how the mind wants to have everything figured out. It provides us some sort of comfort. This can also be seen in victims of trauma and violence in a much more heightened way, but all of us have used our stories to try to gain ease of mind.

So I spent 2012 intentionally doing the opposite of what I would normally do. I tried for the first time and also re-tried many things with a beginner’s mind. I:

  • Went out on Valentines Day and St. Patrick’s Day, even though naysaying holidays was the norm for me.
  • Threw two different birthday parties for myself. Most of my friends never celebrated my birthday with me or even knew when it was because I didn’t tell them about it.
  • Kayaked alone, something I didn’t think I could do.
  • Snorkeled without a life jacket, after deciding on my 25th birthday that I didn’t like snorkeling.
  • Blew off all the meetings at my annual sales conference. Formerly, I was one of the few who would actually attend every event and meeting.
  • Went home for Thanksgiving and spent Christmas with my nieces. I hadn’t spent any time with my family and friends for the holidays in at least a decade.

These are just some of the things were opposites for me. I’m sure none of this sounds especially spectacular, but if you knew me for any length of time, you’d know that these were not things I would do.

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