Re-Inventing The Wheel
A Hard Look At The Emotions Defining Me
Have you ever looked at a 'Feeling Wheel'? Take a look. It's actually quite beautiful--bright & colorful--in fact, you might even mistake it for a game. Like 'Spin The Wheel'. It's not.
The feelings, in and of themselves, are not right or wrong. As a matter of fact, you will likely experience all of them at some point in your lifetime. But what happens when you find yourself persistently settled into the upper half of that wheel?
One of the very first exercises I was asked to do when I started Unbeatable Mind was to address the following questions:
"WHAT EMOTIONS DO YOU NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO EXPERIENCE?"
"WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOURSELF IN A YEAR?"
Easy enough. Let me highlight the entire lower segment of the Feeling Wheel.
In this process, I discovered that I easily identified with the upper segment of this wheel: INADEQUATE, CRITICAL, IRRITATED and APATHETIC. I also had a generous dollop of ANGER for feeling this way and for not being able to break out of this funk. WEAK.
In particular, I bickered with THANKFUL in my endless comparison of what I did and didn't have. I grappled with CONFIDENT in my ideas and talents as I self-criticized and failed to meet my own standards. I sparred with WORTHWHILE as a physician and teacher searching for something meaningful. I wrestled with CREATIVE and PLAYFUL--two things, for the most part, I had stopped being long ago. I argued with FASCINATING--why on God's green earth would anyone be interested in my life?
Then, I scribbled out my 'Future Me':
Lean and toned.
The physical reflection of self-discipline and success
Confident, strong, and determined.
Positive, energetic and creative
Passionate about what I do, the life I live, and those I interact with.
Open to discovery, testing limits and learning.
Able to give abundantly of time, knowledge and wealth.
At peace with who I am and the journey I am on.
Impressed with myself, I pressed 'SEND'.
Tip: It‘s critical to have a person and/or coach whom you can trust to provide feedback, and who is willing to call you out on your bullshit (like the kind you used to put in college essays).
I handed it off to J., my spouse, looking for praise and a pat on the back. Within minutes, it was returned.
"Go back! Look at what you are doing? Become ‘beautiful‘ in one year--the first thing on your list? So, ‘lean and toned' is the only path to beauty?"
"Of course, not", I muttered. "I want to be confident, strong, passionate blah, blah, blah."
"Bullshit--then why, is confident, strong, passionate not at the top of your Future Me list?"
"OK, If you don't know, I'll tell you. You‘re equating losing weight, being lean and toned, and your physical appearance to being successful and disciplined. And, in fact, when you fall short, you consider yourself a failure."
I sulked. It was true. I was embarrassed.
Indeed, I equated my inability to lose weight and regain my athleticism to failure and lack of control--the mirror was a constant reminder that, I simply did not measure up. It had become the sole definition of success, discipline and beauty for myself, while failing to reflect so many other qualities, achievements and successes in my life that were beautiful and noteworthy.
Instead I only saw INADEQUATE, EMBARRASSING, WEAK.
I had only scratched the surface. What was it going to take to shift the dial from CRITICAL to CONFIDENT, from APATHETIC to PASSIONATE, or INADEQUATE to CONTENT?
The good news is...I have made progress, but I don't have all of the answers--this is a work in progress. In order for me to have a clear vision of who I want to be, I must unravel the reasons, choices and emotions that brought me here.
As I move through the upcoming year, I have a lifetime of habits to undo. The conversation in my head needs to be different, the mental chatter, the negativity and the rumination I have grown accustomed to all need to be replaced.
I am starting over...slowly...and learning who I am and what I am capable of through meditation, yoga, introspection, and a positive mindset grounded in gratefulness.
My revised, and unfinished Future Me, starts much differently.
Believe in myself.
Live as if my 'hair is on fire'.
If I can re-invent the wheel of emotions by which I define myself and by which I choose to see the world and others around me, I might not even recognize myself.