This is the first question I ask when I start working with a new client and the one question many struggle to answer.
The reason this question is so important is because it is vital to understand who and where you are before you can map out a path to where you want to be and who you want to become.
If you start up your satnav, the first thing it will do is identify your current position. Depending on the complexity of the map, that position has to be more or less accurate.
The satnav also needs to know if you are a car, a bike or walking, because this is part of the calculation to find the best possible route to your destination. Then it needs the destination in order to calculate. The more detailed the information is, the easier it is to find the best route.
The ‘who’ and ‘where’ are very much linked to each other. It’s unlikely to be a bicycle and on the motorway at the same time.
Do you really know who you are?
Have you ever asked yourself the question who and where you are? If so, what was your answer?
Many people describe the most obvious things first. Things like their name, age, gender (if not clear), occupation, nationality, current address and so on. These are the things that are usually required when filling out forms but, when it comes to the inner core, most people struggle to describe themselves.
Depending who is asking, we describe the things we believe they would like to hear. For example we tell people how positive or negative we are; whatever fits best. We describe the things we like to do, what we do and how we do it. The stories are never the same, but change according to the expected outcome. If you apply for a job, you’re probably not going to tell them that you’re lazy and just come for the money until something better pops-up.
That means we create – or better still – re-create ourselves every time, leaving a very different picture. Most of us become very good at this. So good in fact, that we even do this to ourselves.
Avoid confusion – in your own mind
The risk is that we never really understand who and where we are and that we base many decisions on the wrong assumptions. That causes stress, self-doubt and is not getting us anywhere.
In my experience the biggest issue is our addiction with judgement and expected values.
Every time we look at ourselves and discover something that does not look so nice, we create a story in our head that either puts the fault onto someone or something else or we just lie outrightly to ourselves and don’t except that observation as being true. Creating another ‘us’ that doesn’t look as bad.
This forms a completely wrong picture and with this information no satnav will ever be able to show the right route. So what can we do to avoid this?
If I give you a dice and ask you to describe it, what would you say?
It has six sides, each side with a different amount of dots. The corners are rounded and so on. Most would describe the object in its essence based on facts. But what if you were to describe the dice to another person; someone you’ve never met before. Based on a short conversation, what would that description sound like?
Stick to the facts
Most likely, because you have no associated values and stories, you would stick with the facts you’ve observed. Now try to do the same with yourself.
Not so easy, right? We are so used to creating these stories that it becomes harder and harder to identify the real thing. But if you don’t know who and where you are, how will you ever get anywhere?
I believe the first thing we all need to do is to stop judging or measuring ourselves against anything. Instead we need to accept that we are as we are. This takes the essence out of all the stories we created over the years and they just break apart.The next step is being more aware of what is going on in our lives, how we feel about it and how we react on it.
If we avoid to judge what we see and just record it as given we start to see the real picture. Again, it is not important if you like that picture or not. It’s just collecting the facts. The more time you take on this task, the more accurate the picture will be – and the easier it will be to map out your path.
A process of Awareness and Mindfulness
This helps to see if we are progressing in the right direction. A satnav always needs to know where it is at any given stage and if you’ve switched the bike with the car or started to walk.
This is because it constantly re-calculates the route as soon as it finds a diversion from the initial course.The satnav doesn’t care where or who you are. It just takes the data, calculates the route and gets you there. There is no need to pretend to be something or somewhere else.
We should apply the same logic to ourselves. Once you understand who and where you are, the path becomes very clear and easy to follow. Like the satnav, you always re-check your position and if required recalculate the route. The trip becomes a very straightforward affair.
To get to this stage of awareness I use a specially designed questionnaire as a base and introduce my clients to easy and manageable meditation techniques to help with the constant recalculation and to record their progress.
Once my client is used to the process and it becomes part of their daily routine the ride becomes smooth and enjoyable. It removes the fear of failure, encourages trust and self-believe and this can be clearly felt by anyone around.
So, if you have a destination in mind and are looking for ways to get there, make sure you know who and where you are.
Enjoy the ride ?