Lately, I've noticed a strange phenomenon: I spend large chunks of most days feeling great. After a few years of rough patches, setbacks and some mighty big speed bumps, this experience is truly new and it crept up on me so slowly, that it didn't sink in for a while.
So I've spent some time contemplating this phenomenon. But not too much time, because I feel too good to overanalyze. Here's what I've noticed: my perception of myself has made a seismic shift toward the positive. My thoughts and emotions have joined the shift and the rest of me has followed suit.
The feeling is one of gratitude, abundance and joy. It's also a feeling of acceptance - what if everything is exactly how it's supposed to be? What if every circumstance I encounter is an opportunity?
The shift culminates many years of work to dismantle old beliefs and perceptions of myself. Simultaneously, I've observed deliberate changes I've made in my actions and how I see myself.
A word about self-perception: Seeing yourself as the person you really are is fun. It's abundant to see all of the positive aspects of yourself and then deciding how you want to express them. We spend an inordinate amount of energy castigating ourselves for what we're not: we compare, we contrast, we negate. And sometimes we do this in the name of being "honest" with ourselves. But it's not honest to focus only on the negative - and it's not true.
Instead, examine the places where you shine. Answer these questions and do these exercises and I bet you'll feel better about yourself and what you so uniquely offer the world.
- What would a friend or colleague who thought the world of you say? Make a thorough list of the accomplishments and positive attributes they would list. No downplaying allowed. If you hear a voice in your head saying, "Oh, that? That was no big deal," put it on the list. If you feel guilty about an accomplishment or unsure of it, put it on the list. And of course, the accomplishments you feel great about will already be on the list.
- Take the process a step further and ask friends or colleagues directly for the same list.
- "What do you want to be when you grow up?" My four year old asks me this question almost daily. I'm not sure who or what prompted this line of questioning, but after several days of it, I started taking it more seriously. This question reconnects me with my passions. Where does it take you?
- Track your thoughts for a few days and record how many are positive and negative. When people begin tracking their thoughts, they'll often become aware that they engage in more negative thinking than they realize.
- Dream. Dreaming is a skill, actually a relational skill. It's a way to connect with you and with others. What are your dreams? What are the dreams you don't allow yourself to have? Where would you go if you took your mind off its self-restraining leash and let it wander?
- Follow your yearning. Notice what you yearn, what you long for - and you'll discover a dream, a desire or even an unmet need. Recognizing these stirring within ourselves is a profound way to embrace ourselves.
If you want a natural high, shift your focus to your brilliance. Be honest with yourself - where are the places you shine? Focus on your contributions, express your gratitude for them, and you'll embrace yourself in a whole new way. And, along the way, you just might find yourself spending a majority of your time, well, feeling great.
Claudette Rowley, coach and author, helps professionals identify and pursue their true purpose and calling in life. Learn more at Claudette Rowley.com.