On Becoming the Person You Want to Be
"We all create the person we become by our choices as we go through life. In a real sense, by the time we are adults, we are the sum total of the choices we have made." -Eleanor RooseveltMarshall Rosenberg, in his life-changing book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, offers a wonderful little exercise that I often share to help create awareness about the choices we make on a daily basis. Many times we think we have no choice; we have to do this or we have to do that, we should do this or we shouldn't do that.
In fact, most of the time we do have a choice and we are choosing our actions based on what we want. For example, I may not enjoy doing the laundry, but I choose to do the laundry because I want clean clothes.
I don't know about you, but often I find myself choosing to do things that take me further away from being the person I want to be. I will tell myself I should get up early and meditate every day and instead will hit the snooze button and sleep until it's too late to meditate, or I will choose unhealthy food over the healthy food I want to eat, or I will find excuses not to exercise, even though I feel much better, and much better about myself, when I am able to follow through on my intention.
Our deep need for choice and freedom can sometimes lead to rebellion against our own best selves!
"I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." -St. Paul
Rosenberg's exercise goes like this: make a list of everything you are currently doing that you no longer enjoy. Then, in front of each item write "I choose to" and after each item write "because I want __________."
So my list of things I no longer enjoy doing might look something like this (I don't enjoy not doing these things):
I choose not to meditate because I want to sleep.
I choose not to eat healthy food because I want something quick and easy that tastes good.
I choose not to exercise because I want to do other things instead (read, work, spend time with family, etc.).
Armed with awareness, I can now make a conscious choice. For example, if I want to sleep I can go to bed earlier and then getting up early to meditate will be easier. Healthy food can be just as quick, easy, and tasty as unhealthy food. If I don't exercise, I won't be able to do all the other things I want to do in my life for very long. A healthy body will allow me to do those things, with more energy, for as long as possible.
My new list will look like this:
I choose to meditate because I want the peace, clarity and wisdom that results from my practice.
I choose to eat healthy food because I want good health and lots of energy.
I choose to exercise regularly because I want to be physically active and healthy throughout my lifetime.
Are you making the choices you need to make in order to become the person you want to be? What's on your list?
It's more than just doing what you want to do, it's being who you want to be. Try adding the following questions to your daily routine and see what happens.
"Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions." -Henri Nouwen