Subtle Shifts Matter


I learned to motivate myself by being hard on myself. You are a loser, so you’d better shape up. You’re fat… better exercise and eat right. Nobody likes you, you’d better learn to be nice. Being mean to myself doesn’t motivate me. Yes, it might cause me to get started with some action, but the shame and regret that is produced by the constant criticism eventually sends me right back to depression, compulsive behavior or addiction. None of these conditions provide the foundation for success.

My morning meditation teacher encouraged me to focus on one positive thing about myself. I focused on my ability to be flexible and to adapt to my ever-changing external environment. It is a trait that I developed as a child, and I’m quite good at it.

My approach has changed over the years. As a youngster and a young adult, I was a chameleon and changed to fit the circumstance. That tended to cause me a lot of anxiety even though it was great for survival. But I lost myself. As I’ve gotten healthier, I’ve learned that a chameleon doesn’t change its insides. It only changes its spots. I can stay solid in my own being and be true to myself but change my response to external stimuli.

Small changes in perspective create the biggest change for me. Perhaps it’s just focusing on one thing that is positive to lift my mood. Or maybe I change the one thing I have control over. Sometimes I shift my focus from what is happening and its painful consequences to the learning I’m gaining from the event. When I’m tired and exhausted and anxious, I can’t make big changes. Those things happen when I’m in a place of strength. Getting to that sweet spot is often a process.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

What is one positive thing about yourself – or your world or your work – that you can focus on today? How do you shift your perspective so change is more manageable?

7 Comments on “Subtle Shifts Matter

  1. As a fellow chameleon, I can totally relate to fitting in by blending in. It’s a hard habit to break and I’m grateful for a good therapist to help me figure out which is the real me, and which is the protective coating I’ve lived with too long. Shifting perspective is a helpful tool, but more often than not, I fall back on a mantra (You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay) until I can get enough distance from an issue to look at it clearly. Hope you have a great weekend, Sharon!

    • I love little short mantras like that. I say “I’m okay,” too. I also say, “I am enough”. That works for me, too. On another note, I’m running the Detroit Half Marathon this weekend! I can’t wait! Wish me luck.

      • Good luck! Hope it went well! I did a practice half yesterday to see if I was in good enough shape to run the Seattle half in November. It went well, but I am sore this morning! It’s good to know we still have it in us, right?

      • Yes that’s true! I felt good I could still do it. It hursts worse than it used to. I’m going to focus on strength training this winter to try to get stronger. I hope that will help next year.

  2. No matter how difficult something is, I always remind myself that it will pass. Just get through the moment and survive!
    Lately I’ve been wondering why I feel stress when my boss acts like a boss. Leaving or getting fired would not be the end of the road and may very well open new opportunities. So why worry?
    I’ve also been appreciating the power of my internal dialogue and activity changing it when I become aware of it.

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