Being Your Own Worst Enemy

This year I have been soaking up as much as Brené Brown and her research as possible. Here is a great talk she gave at a design conference which delves deeply into fear, and to me, the call to have the courage to be 100% me and to be 100% in my life.

When I was in graduate school at Roosevelt University, a favorite class of mine was on Organizational Development. One day we were given an exercise to prioritize a list of twenty or so steps we would take to start a fire or some sort of survival task. First, we did the exercise on our own. Next, we decided the sequence as a group. After receiving the proper sequence, the professors asked for a show of hands for everyone who had more correct responses as a group rather than as an individual. Most of the class raised their hands. Truth was, the exercise was supposed to show how as a group we all perform better than as individuals. To prove their point, the instructors had everyone raise their hand who did better as an individual than in the group. I was the only one who raised her hand. The professors were shocked. I don’t think they ever had anyone do better on their own before. The reason I tell this story is not to show how smart I am, but to show the biggest challenge in my life – self-confidence and being able to speak my voice. I did better on my own, because I couldn’t voice my opinions in the group.

Photo by Felix Koutchinski on Unsplash

This incident is just one of many throughout my life where I can show unequivocally that I hold myself back. I discount my ideas. I bow to others. I am afraid to speak my truth. I don’t voice my needs because I don’t want to insult or hurt others. The end result is that I have not lived fully, unabashedly; I have not made the most of opportunities that came my way. As a friend said recently, “It really, really is the bald-faced truth that we are our worst, if not only, enemies.” I know I have been for decades. 

In this video, Brené touches on the importance of having clear values and, importantly, living by those values. If we do not know our values, the choices we make in our lives are not tied to our goals and what we deem important. On the other hand, if we have values but do not act upon them, we are not living fully, honestly, intentionally.

In the second half of my life, I am committed to fully living the values I have defined in the first half of my life. I am striving for vulnerability, compassion, healthy boundaries, and living without hesitation. Instead of looking back at my previous choices (which I can’t change anyway), I am instead – not focused on the future – but focused on this moment. In this moment, am I doing my best to be vulnerable? Am I living openly and honestly?  Am I being compassionate, understanding, and accepting?  Am I creating healthy boundaries to protect myself while I am supporting others? Am I living fully, without hesitation?

It ain’t easy. I ain’t consistent. And it is worth it. I am learning to make new choices – and receive new, better results. I am grateful for the path I took when I was younger. I am grateful to have the courage to look at my past and learn from it. And I am so grateful to have the courage and support to fully live by my values, to the best of my ability, today.

Ideal Work Life

Overwhelmed By Your Life? Perhaps It Is Time to Simplify.

If you had millions of dollars, what would you do? Buy an expensive house and car? How about a used van and park it by the ocean? That is exactly what Major League pitcher Daniel Norris did. Instead of spending his multimillion dollar contract to live up to the appearance of a celebrity ball player, this 21-year-old pitcher chose a simpler life. In a segment on the Today Show Daniel Norris said, “When I can simplify outside of the fair and foul lines, that’s so much less to think about off the field and all my focus is put onto the baseball field.”

Ideal Work LifeAs you go through your day, what is causing your stress, worry, and distraction? Is it a desire for a new car? Is it ensuring your dinner party is as good as your neighbor’s was? Are you concerned about people stealing what you own? Are you having difficulty paying your mortgage but worry you have failed if you downsize? Are you stressed because you can’t seem to achieve the American dream? Perhaps your unique dream life is different from the one society has dictated for us all.

Are the issues causing stress in your life providing you with any value? Start cataloging everything in your life. What brings you joy? What makes you feel whole? What helps to make you your best? Now, what is causing you to feel overwhelmed? What is a distraction? What is more hassle than it is worth? Next explore what is keeping you from removing things from your life that are affecting you negatively. Do you keep them around for your values or someone else’s? Are you living your unique Type Me life or are you unhappily living someone else’s life? Your ideal life might not to be living in a van, but is it the way you are living now?

Look around you. Did you create your life or are you living the life your parents, society, or your peers instilled in you? Are you trying to win at a game you don’t want to play? If you had the courage and the means, what life would you create? What would be included? What would you remove?

Henry David Thoreau wrote in the book Walden, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” Simplifying your life is not just about downsizing your house or selling your possessions. At its heart, simplifying means living by your values. What do you personally value? When you choose to add something in your life, do you first gauge it against what you values? If you lived by your values, what would you experience? Make a list of all of the adjectives that would describe your life if you lived by your values. Perhaps it would be calm, peaceful, and content. Perhaps it would be exciting, adventurous, and joyful. What makes your heart sing? What truly makes you happy? Are you actively bringing into your life those things that make you happy?

Can you be as brave as Daniel Norris and remove yourself from the expectations of your role and status to remain true to your Type Me? Are you willing to stand up to ridicule and live the life that brings you joy? Are you ready to choose your version of living no matter what society expects? It is time to simplify your life by removing everything that is not you?