Updated: Nov 17, 2019
“That’s just the way I am.” If you are like me, you have said this before as a way to excuse the behavior, emotion, or an impression you left on someone. Many people consider me to be “quiet,” but people who know me would challenge the notion. Being “quiet” was my coping skill. It was a behavior I took on in school when I experienced (currently defined) bullying. It was my security when yelled at or disciplined by my mother. Going silent was safest for me in the moment of embarrassment of a teacher labeling me “stupid” in front of the class. I believe this was one of the most altering parts of my childhood that turned me against math and the way I thought of myself.
So how can an incident have such a profound impact on who I ultimately became? After some personal development and maturation, I learned three things that needed to take place in my life for the change to occur. See, as a young child, I picked up something from the incident, I never released. I never felt safe enough to do it until I became an adult to understand what I was carrying. There is a possibility you may have picked something up along the way in your life; you somehow never put back down again.
My DNA never changed. I was still the same child my mother and father created birthed into the world. Yet, my life experiences somehow changed who I had become and how I showed up in the world. They changed my responses, both behaviorally and emotionally. Often, changing my spiritual responses to life as well. Some times the struggle of relationships, circumstances, and external factors we have no direct control over can leave every part of our lives in total disarray. We can’t rest, don’t eat right, neglect our health and tie our muscles and bodies into knots of stress. The longer we stay in these states of "unsettled-ness", the more comfortable they feel. They become our norm only to eat one meal a day, stay on high alert when certain people come into the room, revert to silence, and tense up in stressful situations. These behaviors don’t change our DNA, but they impact who we become.
To shed away the little girl I grew into with a fear to speak up in confrontation, unsure of who she was in situations of uncertainty and shrunk when ridiculed, I exercised a critical mindfulness practice. It is a practice I use with clients and in my own meditation time often. I ask my self three questions allowing clear thoughts to flow through me to be my answers.
1. Who do I want to become when this moment has passed away?
2. What needs to happen for me to become that person?
3. How do I best serve myself to move in that direction?
These are not simple questions you answer in hopes of making yourself feel “better.” These are questions to challenge your normal responses. They impact your decisions afterward. More importantly, they encourage you to decide, “This is the person I want to become” rather than focusing on who you are. My disclaimer to you is; it won't be easy, but you already knew that. If I could go back and ask myself these questions at pivotal times in my life, I think I would have found peace and my identity quicker. With that, I hope it helps you along your journey to becoming the best version of who you were created to be in this world.
Naomi P Washington
Life Strategy Coach