Have you ever hit snooze on your 6am run alarm, pulled up the blankets, and then beat the living crap out of yourself for not springing out of bed?
Uh, me neither… <crickets>
The marathoner forgets he can run. The artist forgets they can paint. The songwriter forgets she can write. The CEO forgets he can lead. Stella loses her groove.
Most of us have figured out by this point that LIFE (!!!) is an endless cycle of remembering and forgetting. We remember our power, gifts, and higher identities, and then we promptly forget them. Sometimes we spend months or years in the limbo of forgetfulness, disconnected and oblivious to our value to the world around us.
Often those we love, or an epic test of our will can snap us back into remembering. Maybe we even jump up a couple levels.
But the buzz never lasts forever. We get overwhelmed by the growth and self-care needed to sustain our knowing, and then, damnit…
We’ve slipped our own minds again.
It’s OK. You’re not bipolar. You’re human. It’s how we do.
For this reason, I have an orange 3×5 card taped above the exit in my office. Scrawled on it in Sharpie is: REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE. The world around us, (powered by sleepless technology and clever marketers) barrages us with negative attention hooks. They hammer our pain points, then politely offer to hold our wallet while we writhe in self-loathing. Because once we remember ourselves, we are complete, and need a lot less material gratification.
But once you start getting away from your routine of self-care: (exercise, spiritual practice, healthy eating, or diet) you become vulnerable.
Your once-impervious bubble of self-realization gets punctured, and you slump around like a deflated little balloon.
After I ran my first marathon, I literally forgot that I ever ran 26.2 miles, let alone 5. I thought I had been tased by Men In Black. Getting back on the saddle after my healing runs was impossible. I was determined to prove that I didn’t only run the distance to appease my ego (or some equally crazy BS like that).
So each morning the run alarm would beep, and I’d suck my thumb like a forgetful little Babyman. It’s kind of entertaining how insane this is. Then the voices would start in on me.
“You’ve never really been a runner. That was a fluke.”
Even though these inner critics reeked of BULLSHIT and onions, it was up to me to rebuild my own inertia. I’d lace up, and start my slow train a-rollin’.
I called this outrunning the demons.
4 miles in, and those bitches couldn’t touch me.
I’m not athletic? <mile 5, mile 6>
I don’t finish what I start? <mile 7, mile 8>
I don’t expect to see you at mile 26, Judge Judy. <mile 9>
Ten miles later, I was laying on our front lawn, watching the sky breathe and swell from the center of this massive blue & white marble. My kids were laughing and jumping all over me.
In these small, personal triumphs, we are literally reminding ourselves who we really are and what we’re capable of.
Here are 10 Kickass Ways to Help Remember WHO YOU ARE.
1) Write it out. Journaling about your strengths and current passions is huge. If you were going to move to a new city, or go job-hunting, you’d work it out on paper. Why then should it feel corny to write down your DREAMS, dog? Put quill to parchment, Shakespeare. Send me a copy. I’ll hold your words like a scroll, and read them back to you in a ridiculous British accent.
2) Talk to yourself in your mirror, or while you’re running. Passers-by on the trails near my house think I’m schizophrenic. I use incantations while I run to remind myself of my personal philosophy: “I joyfully expect everything to work out. I use my creativity to inspire and entertain others. I consciously pursue excellence. And that’s what I do, every damn day”. If you say that to yourself a good 5 to 20,000 times, you just might start believing it at some point.
3) Ask leading questions to the people that love you. Although you may seem like a droopy-drawers baby if you need reassurance all the time, it’s healthy to ask others what they like or love about you. I always lead with: “Gayle, aside from my monster pecs and bulbous glutes, what else do you love about me?” Seriously, whenever Gayle reminds me who I am, (relative to the scared little punk she started dating 16 years ago), it bolsters my E’rythang. The people who bare witness to our journeys are the most capable of reminding us how far we’ve come. Ask. If the reply is silence, or “Nothing, really” find new people.
4) Print and collect any positive feedback about you that rocked your world, or made you want to cry. Hang it in a corner of your private space. Reread it from time to time. Call the people who took the time and thank them again for reminding you who you are. I remind people what they’ve done for me years after they took a few minutes to send a nice note.
5) Schedule time to do the things you’re good at. Knit a blanket and send it to your friend’s new baby. Visit Guitar Center and shut that shit down with your bass grooves. Sing “Panama” at the karaoke bar while employing each of Diamond Dave’s ridiculous karate kicks. Demonstrate who you are, on blast. And do it with zero apologies.
6) Employ technology. Set up meeting reminders to pop up randomly throughout the year with ridiculous subject headings. Friday, April 27th at 6PM: “DJ the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer!” Mandatory Family Dance Party! Solo Wii Tournament! You Survived Q2 Party! Saturday, June 17th: Pegasus-Wrangling!!! (Be sure to grant access to everyone on your staff, so they can see what your BIG DAYS consist of.) Humbly request some recommendations on LinkedIn. Offer to return the favor. Collect the friggin TRUTH about yourself, as seen through the eyes of your colleagues.
7) Cut and paste. Cut out lines from “Raving Fan” emails and tape them inside your journals.
8.) Make time to lay in silence each evening before bed. Inventory all of the great stuff that happened today, and set an intention for how you want to feel when you wake up. If you had a crappy day, don’t fall asleep until you find at least 3 great things that happened. They can be small, but they are there. I’m guessing that you may have even had something to do with them.
9) Photograph yourself doing something ridiculous and text it to somebody you care about. Ask for constructive feedback. I snapped a pic of myself eating mashed bananas from a plastic spoon while wearing our infant son’s bib that reads “This is What Handsome Looks Like”. I sent it to random coworkers and asked them if they had any thoughts. The responses were amazing. Especially the radio silence. hahaha
10) If all else fails, call your parents. This is a delicate one, because depending on their level of crazy you may need to put on your haz-mat filter. Reminisce about an epic vacation. Thank them for being patient with you. Sincerely thank them for having a hand in making you a fulfilled person.
Anything I’ve missed here? How do you remember who you are in this big crazy LIFE?