In my work, I often confront people’s assumptions. I call out the thoughts or feelings that likely limit their success. Sometimes, they get defensive and say, “That’s just who I am.” What they mean is that their thought or emotion is such an ingrained habit that they can’t imagine not having it. They own it. They identify with it.
Really, though, we are not our thoughts or emotions.
Who you really are is much closer to the person who can notice yourself having thoughts or feelings. You may have never caught a glimpse of this truer part of you. If you have, you know how freeing it can feel.
Try this oddly simple exercise. It will take just a little time.
“This is Me” Exercise
Select an amount of time for you to do this exercise. Most people choose something between 1 and 5 minutes. For that time, just observe whatever you are doing or thinking. For each thing you notice, say to yourself, “This is me ______.” Fill in the blank with what you noticed. Repeat until you notice something unexpected or until you get to the end of your set time. Here’s a brief example. It is what might occur when brushing your teeth in the morning.
- “This is me reaching over and grabbing my toothbrush.
- This is me switching my toothbrush from one hand to the other so I can grab the toothpaste.
- This is me getting frustrated that someone left the cap off of the toothpase.
- This is me wondering if I can remember to buy more toothpaste.
- This is me thinking I forgot to call the dentist’s office to reschedule my appointment.
- This is me squeezing some toothpaste on the toothbrush.
- This is me feeling rushed this morning.
- This is me looking forward to dinner tonight with friends.
- This is me remembering that I need to get flowers.
- This is me wondering what this exercise is all about.
- This is me hearing the neighbor starting her car.
- This is me…”
The content of this exercise (e.g. “squeezing toothpaste”) is unimportant. You can do this exercise in any situation. What is the unexpected something? It’s hard to describe. But you’ll know it when it happens. Hint: many people describe it as an expansion, a shift of perspective, or a sensation of warmth, relief, tingling, or lightness.
If it doesn’t happen, no worries. Try the exercise again later. Keep trying until you notice something.
When you do notice something, let me know. I’ll verify it for you.
To your continued success,
PS: use this exercise whenever you are feeling stressed, low, angry, sad, etc. Works wonders.