Be you. That’s my latest Hindsight. (Hindsight, of course, being what I call the writing on the back of my car.) I arrive at each Hindsight by coaching myself to whatever I am looking to focus on or shift. Change comes from changing your thoughts, changing your words, and changing your deeds. The Hindsight directly helps me with the first part of that equation. So, I coach myself to whatever I feel like would be most helpful to be reminded of and surprised by for the next week or so while it’s on the back of my car.
All that to say this week it is: Be You. Being You, obviously, is kind of at the heart of everything I try to offer and share in the world and I explore it from lots of angles but what I had in mind this week is much more specific.
We’ve reached a time of year when there are a lot of opportunities and obligations arising. Everything from graduations to Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. It’s just one of those times of year when there are a lot of transitions and celebrations afoot. During these times, many of us find ourselves with the opportunity to gather with loved ones, be they friends or family. Me? I have a family reunion coming up so that’s definitely a thing. In such environments, it can be easy to lose the thread of our own story, to lose our sense of who we are at the moment. I think that’s unnecessary and I think it misses an opportunity.
Allow me to offer a few tips that might help us both avoid that, things that might help you be you.
First, self-care. You know how to take care of you. While our years may be punctuated with holidays and special events/moments the majority of the year is not and in the majority of the year you know how to adult, you know how to take care of you. When you’re dialing in your awareness and being honest with yourself, you know the behaviors that lead you to go off the rails. You know the behaviors that help you stay centered and on the rails. You know what feeds you and what depletes you. The first step in being you is to not surrender that self-care when your routine is disturbed, when you find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings with people you’re not around all the time.
If you know, for instance, that it serves you best to get up early or to meditate or to exercise or to eat certain things or drink certain things or to listen to certain things, then don’t surrender those things. They are part of what helps you be you. The best version of you. Maybe you can’t do them exactly the way that you’re accustomed to doing them but I’ll wager you can still find a way to do them. Maybe you need quiet time to yourself for even just a few minutes periodically throughout the day. In nearly any environment you are in there is always an escape pod. It’s called a bathroom. You can go in there and take a beat and a breath. Or simply go outside or step away for a minute. Take care of you. Simple things like that.
One tool that helps me a lot that I’ve mentioned before is an acronym that I learned from a therapist years ago: H.A.L.T. Which stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Whenever you start to feel yourself even beginning to spiral away from yourself. Look at those first and address any and all of them that are needing attention as soon as humanly possible. I have found consistently that when I do so it helps me stay me. So, the first step in being you is self-care.
The second tip I offer is to share you. Channel your inner Brené Brown. Be vulnerable. Be brave. You are unbreakable. You have a 100% success rate at being you. So share you. Weird. Unsure about some parts of your life. Unreasonably sure about others. Full of contradictions. Full of paradoxes and passions and apathy. Perfectly flawed. Making it up as you go. You. Share you. Life’s too short to waste time pretending. Also, how can the people who would love you do so if you don’t give them you? More of that please.
I know it can be daunting in these environments to share who you are even though, ironically, you’re surrounded by loved ones. And to that end, the last tip I’ll share today is to be curious. I find when I have the opportunity to be with loved ones who perhaps I don’t see very often that the challenge to be me seems to stem from our tendency to greet one another in a disadvantageous way. What seems to happen is that perhaps well-intentioned loved ones greet you as who they knew you to be back when or who they’d like you to be and not as who you are. I think that’s typical and human. However, the way around that isn’t to point the finger at them or to abandon yourself. The acceptance you seek for who you are is best cultivated by offering that acceptance to your loved ones. In other words, release who you knew them to be. Release who you would like them to be. Be curious about who they are. Be willing to get to know them. Be an engaged observer investigating and curiously exploring the people you know and love. Give them the gift you seek.
There is an analogy I love and I’ve mentioned many times over the years and that is don’t go to the hardware store for milk. And, for sure, don’t get angry at the hardware store when you go there for milk and they don’t sell milk. They just don’t sell milk. They sell lots of other cool stuff. Be curious and interested in what they do sell and go seek your milk where milk is sold. That’s kind of what I’m talking about here. Be curious. The acceptance you seek of who you are is best encouraged by offering it to others and therefore creating a space for them to be curious as well. They may or may not take that opportunity. But at least you’ll be practicing what you preach. And you’re getting to know them better to boot. Let them be their own store.
So, for whatever events or big to-do’s you’ve got ahead, put this in your back pocket: self-care, share you, and be curious. You just might find yourself walking through these special moments being a bit more of You.
Be good to you.