6. Listen to an old favorite album through headphones, and while doing nothing else but listen. Really listen.
Pay attention to all details. If not a whole album, a favorite song. What do you hear going on in the background? The layers? Pay attention to just the bass guitar line. Then just the lead guitar. The lyrics (I always listen to the lyrics; that’s the “story” of the song, after all). Then the drums. The harmonies. Do you hear a tambourine, maybe? A piano riff?
Now, sit down and do that same kind of witnessing around something that happened today that you’d like to change, stepping away from any judgments you have about yourself or the people. If the outcome wasn’t what you wanted, what could you do differently next time.
5. Watch a recorded TV show blindfolded and try to picture what’s going on, even when there’s no speaking.
Then watch it again with your eyes open. What surprises you? What did you get right? And what was different?
As a child, I spent years and years and years listening to a long-play record that had all the songs from a condensed version of the dialogue from an animated movie called The Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy. I had everything envisioned in my head as I listened to that album. When I finally saw that movie when I was about twelve, it was a very surreal experience, because much of what I thought was the action wasn’t. But, also, much of it was. It was a delight to have that experience. The same thing happened for me with Disney’s Peter Pan. I had the long-play record, but didn’t see the movie until I was much older.
For the opposite, I had a long-play of a condensed version of the movie Star Wars. I saw that movie at least five times in the theater, so I knew what was going on with each scene on the record. But not seeing the action forced me to see it in a different way. I paid attention differently and so I picked up on different things.
4. Each morning, write out 3 small stories of what you hear running in your head–3-4 sentences. Do it each morning for a week, then do the same when you go to bed. Is there a pattern of negativity? Hamster wheels of thinking?
What I mean here is your self-talk. What do you hear? Do you like it? What could you say to yourself instead?
3. Take a co-worker to lunch, someone new.
Find out who they are. Their projects. Their likes and hobbies. Find some new connections. See them in a new light–thereby allowing yourself to see you in a different light.
2. What is a small desire you have? Why do you avoid acting on it?
You have desires and you deserve them. You also deserve to act on them. They aren’t selfish, they aren’t greedy, and doing so will not turn you into a bad parent, friend or employee. By putting yourself first more and more frequently, and becoming aware of how you drop yourself into the bottom fifty instead of keeping yourself in the top 3-5, you can see how you hinder yourself from getting to where you want to go.
1. Is there a toy you’ve always wanted, but couldn’t have? Go buy it.
This goes in with desires, and it’s something I sometimes suggest to someone. Sure, you can share it with your kids, but you could also make it just for you.
There are two examples of this that really helped someone allow themselves to not only acknowledge their desires, but to realize that it’s okay to want things in general.
One was a man, the other was a woman. Both were struggling with acknowledging that they had desires and that it was okay to act on them. They were both brought up to believe doing so was selfish. I asked both of them (separately) if they had a toy they always wanted when they were a child but never got. Maybe because there wasn’t any money, maybe because the parents simply didn’t acknowledge how badly they each wanted that toy.
The woman said she always wanted a beautiful, old-fashioned-looking doll. The man said, with some self-consciousness, that he always wanted a teddy bear.
I asked them both if their respective cities had a really fun toy store–not a Toys R Us, but the kind that felt like it fell out of a children’s book. Both said yes. My “homework” to them for the weekend was to go to that store and buy that exact toy for themselves. Sometimes, all someone needs is permission; how I phrase this is that it’s okay to “borrow” my permission to make it theirs, but ultimately, they have to give it to themselves. I then said to call me the following Monday and tell me how it went.
The woman called, and, with a childlike excitement in her voice, told me about the doll she bought for herself. It was a china doll, dressed in Victorian style clothing and was exactly what she always wanted. She said she also got a few other things just for herself (I don’t recall what they were), and they, with the doll, now sat on her dresser in her bedroom where she could see them every day. “When I got home,” she said, “I sat down with them and I cried and cried and cried. And I realized it’s okay to want things for myself and to go after them.”
The man’s story was similar. He found a beautiful teddy bear, and, like the woman, he bought a couple of other toys for himself (I don’t remember what they were, either.) He told me that when he got home, he sat with the bear for a long, long time. And then, with a great amount of self-consciousness, he said he cried. Like the woman, he realized it was okay to want things and to get them. That doing so wasn’t taking away from someone else.
Both felt like a weight was lifted from their shoulders.
Try this. If you want to share it with someone, you can. But this little exercise is really just for you to see that it’s okay to go after something you’ve always wanted, even if it feels years late.
Questions? Comments? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.