Today is Day 1 of 7 for this week of focused living. That is the most boring way to begin a blog.
It has been a while since I have posted a very deep blog. I think most of my energy is going toward writing for my Masters class. I spent almost the entire day today reading all the required material for the week, and for the most part, it was pretty transformational stuff. I wish I could have spread it out over a longer time period.
I became very aware today the specific ways that I make excuses for my insecurity. Today’s reading talked about the “Social Mirror” that we begin to view ourselves through. We hear all these criticisms and praises from other people, and we begin to believe that we are what we hear. There are three different types of determinisms that we live under: Genetic determinism (it’s in my blood), Psychic determinism (someone else has conditioned me to respond this way), and Environmental determinism (someone besides me is responsible for the situation I am in). Some of us come to interpret reality through at least one of these determinisms so much that we believe that we are a product of someone else and we can never change. We look to the feedback of others to define us and give us value. What an unhealthy way to live.
I can definitely see myself under the Psychic determinism. In the past couple months I have started to recognize some of the language that I use that reflects so clearly the slavery that I have come to know. I refer often to my parents, past employers, or even people that have hurt me in the past and I have decided that I will always have to live in that memory. It goes beyond learning from experiences; I find that I have been confined by them.
The most specific example I can offer is a conversation I had recently with my mom about romantic relationships. I told her, “I don’t think I will ever be able to do this. I do not trust people and I don’t know how to let someone into that part of my life. People just don’t go there. I trusted someone once, and he ripped my heart out. I don’t think I could go there again.” I think vocalizing to someone else what I have felt for so long is the first step in changing that thought process. I need to learn how to think in terms of the choices I have now, rather than the scars I hold from the past. However, it will be a long process, assuming I will ever have to deal with that. I have the distinct feeling that I will.
By the way, the book from where all this is coming is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.
The author spent significant time talking about the difference between reactive people and proactive people. There was a quote that really got me: “Reactive people build their emotional lives around the behavior of others, empowering the weaknesses of other people to control them.” I had never looked at it that way. In many ways, I saw myself as the only imperfect person in the world, when in reality we all have strengths and weaknesses. I never thought that my discouragement from a friend’s lack of kindness was not a reflection on me per se, but rather my giving power to someone else’s weakness. Of course, there are always times to listen to and accept constructive criticism, but my worth does not depend on someone else’s actions toward me.
The author then goes on to talk about listening to our language to hear our thought processes. It can be something so simple as, “He makes me so mad!” that shows an improper placement of responsibility. A healthy person would not say this. They may say something like, “I am angry at this person,” because ultimately we are in control of our own emotions. Other people do not give them to us. We choose how we react. I cannot begin to tell you how many times this week I have placed blame on another party for my emotions, especially in the very frustrating process of finding a job. Life can be frustrating, but our reactions are our own decision.
How many times a day do you use or think the phrase, “I can’t”? I think this with almost everything. I have been trying to push myself out of my comfort zone by learning how to cook new dishes and going out to meet new people. I started a Master’s program, and I can’t think of a better example of something that I never thought (and still don’t think) I could do. I have decided that I’m going to do it anyway. It is in essence, changing my “I can’t” to “I can”.
One of the biggest lessons I received from Habit One in 7 Habits is the concept of two circles: Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. One of these circles is always inside the other, and the one that refers most to me is the Circle of Concern being the outside circle and the Circle of Influence the inside one. Covey says that we all have burdens or “concerns” that fit into the big circle. However, we cannot do something about all of these concerns; we can only do something about some of them. The concerns that we can do something about fit into the Circle of Influence. So often we spend all our time and energy complaining about the way things are and how people are taking advantage of us. We focus on the concerns outside the Circle of Influence or the things we can do nothing about. The most productive and fulfilling way to live, however, is to identify in our concerns what things we can do something about in a positive way and develop an action plan to make it happen. As we do this, we gain the respect of those around us and expand our Circle of Influence. In the end, we have more ability to affect change in our environments because we have become proactive people rather than reactive people.
Covey talks about the difference between the attitude of, “My life would be better if I had…” and the attitude of, “I can be this, I can be that.” We cannot wait for the stars to align and for the world to change us. We must become the change we want to see.
That first habit was fairly easy to talk about. The second habit called, “Begin with the End in Mind” is harder to talk about. I have often thought about dying, and going through the illness that I did, I probably thought more about dying than I thought about living. I have been criticized by a lot of people that are older than me, saying, “You’re too young to think about dying.” However, I understood, like the author, that we should always live life in the reality that someday it will end. Fulfillment in life does not only consist of being ready for that time when it comes, but also of investing in the lives of those around us while we are still here. What do we want people to say about us when we are gone? What do we want those around us to know before it is too late? How do we live every moment reflecting love?
What I want people to remember about me is how I inspired them. I want everyone I met to know that they have incredible worth and that they are able to become whatever they dream of becoming. I hope that when people think of me, they’ll smile. However, most of all, I want people to remember how passionately I loved God and them. I want them to remember how I saw the heart behind the face and the person behind the facade. I want be remembered as someone who took the time to listen and to know.
Do I live in a way today that would cause people to remember me this way? I think that my lack of trust causes me to distance myself from people, and this is not what I want for my life. I try to be transparent, but I find it much easier to write about something and post it on my blog than to sit down face to face with someone and pour out my heart. I think this is mainly because I have rarely found someone interested in really knowing me. You know what’s interesting about this thought process? It is still very “me” centered. I am so focused on being known. What I should begin to aim for is a desire to deeply know those around me, and in the course of knowing them, I will reveal my heart to that person. This takes a level of courage that I have not yet attempted. We will be working on that next week, I am sure.
The final thing that I needed to work through is coming up with a personal mission statement. I think this will take some time, but I will post some initial thoughts here:
I want to be a person who:
-loves God with all of her heart
-loves others in a deep and genuine way
-is healthy emotionally, mentally and physically
-is a leader in how she lives her life and the activities she participates in
-is a change agent in her community and world
-is true to her calling in orphan care and open to the ways that God will mold that vision
-is responsible financially and with her time
-is a loyal and faithful companion
-is always learning and growing
-is always trying new things
-is always conquering a fear
-is nurturing to anyone or anything that would come her way
I could probably go on for hours, which I am sure you do not want to read. Tonight I went to my Monday night group, and it was amazing to me how uncomfortable I felt. It was nothing anyone else did, and I’m sure that my utter exhaustion from reading all day was getting to me. I know that it was shyness coming to the surface, and that fear of interacting with others did not help me and I’m sure made me very unpleasant to be around. I have not yet learned how to snap out of that mindset. In those times, like I told my friend tonight, “I feel like I have no personality.” I am constantly trying to decide if I want to just sit and stare at a wall or find the nearest exit and go back home. It’s so pathetic and while this is going on, I am kicking myself inside for being so…for lack of a better term…dumb. What in the world is my problem?
Yes, I am an introvert. However, that does not give me license to be anti-social. Yes, it is harder for me. However, that is never an excuse to not do something. This is something that I need to work on. Part of me wants to be merciful to myself, because after all, I just moved to a strange city nine hours away from people I know, and every experience is stretching and scary. I must choose to ignore this, however, and learn how to be the girl I know I am. I can be fun and funny. I just need to learn how to find that girl when I am standing in a room full of people and I should probably talk to someone. I am reverting back to my “Social Mirror” mentality. Ugh. Come on, Chelsea.
Well, these are the things that I have been thinking about today. I have a big day of writing tomorrow so I need to go to bed. If you got this far, you have my respect and admiration. I don’t know how you do it…or why you do it. But I’m glad you read my blog posts. Have a great night!