In William Bridges’ The Way of Transition: Embracing Life’s Most Difficult (Persus Publishing/2001)… he writes: “One thing that the reorientation function doesn’t account for is that in reorienting ourselves [one of the phases of transition he presents in his work], we also have the chance …to take a step forward in our own development by letting go of a less-than-adequate reality and an out of date self-image.”
Reading this was like having a bucket of cold water dumped over my head. It was a shocking thought…and one I am still processing. But the more I considered it, the more I experienced the truth of it.
We all have those moments in life when someone compliments us or thanks us for being a certain way and it catches us by surprise. Personally, I know one of my major core values is to make a difference for others. Yet, it sometimes catches me off guard when I get acknowledged for this. I don’t quite see the full picture of the impact my actions have until someone else reflects it back to me. So who I think I am in this arena isn’t 100% of the whole picture.
This is also true of the thoughts and perceptions I have about myself when it comes to ways I sell myself short or buy into my own limiting beliefs. I have a long history of accomplishing unique and extraordinary things, yet there are days and times I don’t feel or act like that person.
So now I must consider, how might my life be different if I really took Bridges message to heart…that who I think I am is not who I am? How might your life be different if you considered the same?
My Life Transitions/Grief Recovery Model has a step in the process that involves taking an inventory of your life. Out of that, I created an exercise you can easily do to get a clear picture of what I expect is a much smaller picture of who you are than who you REALLY are. We’ll call it The Big Picture Exercise.
The Big Picture Exercise
Step 1 – take one aspect of your life where you’d like to create some awareness and possibly some change – perhaps it is your relationship, an unfulfilled project or goal or your career. Now, keep a running list of all the catabolic (destructive) and anabolic (constructive) thoughts and beliefs you have about this area of your life. Don’t try to change anything…just begin to paint the picture.