I was born to two very young parents who took charge of their own lives in a tricky situation. Maybe their youth told them that they had something to prove. Maybe they just used all of their inner drive and ambition to attack life, rather than wallow in what could’ve been. They did not act as victims of their choices. They made the lemonade without even realizing that they had any lemons.
I believe watching them navigate life helped me shape my confidence at a young age. My three younger brothers and I were gifted with the ability to screw up (and we very much took advantage of this gift!) and still be loved by our parents. And although of course we did not escape the pitfalls of adolescence, we didn’t have to question our worthiness. And even in my darkest times of insecurity I know somewhere inside of me that I could return to these learned values.
In 2009 when I decided to take on the Ironman triathlon it truly never occurred to me that I should question my ability to conquer the goal. I wanted to try it, and so I would do what it took to go for it. I had been surrounded by like minded people in the world of racing and otherwise. My parents, husband, in-laws, and brothers are entrepreneurs or in leadership roles. When they want to go for things, they find a way.
It wasn’t until I started working at the gym in 2011 with women who struggled with their weight that I fully realized that insecurity didn’t automatically dissolve later in life. That a “midlife crisis” can actually be a positive awakening. A chance to look at life and evaluate where you are after the hustle of finishing school, cultivating a career, and starting a family. When we hop off the hamster wheel and put our feet firmly on the ground in our life.
That’s when I decided my life’s work would be to grow to understand myself better. To turn my blind confidence into learned awareness and acceptance of my strengths and flaws. I do this to inspire people to find their own self awareness in order to reach goals and live a full, passionate life. I aim to use my influence in the wellness world to help people cultivate a life they want to live in, in a body that they appreciate, and with a heart and soul that they accept and love.
I write this blog to reach all of you with this message. But, recently I realized although I have hammered the point home about how you NEED TO KNOW YOURSELF… it is possible I can give you more tips on how to do just that.
As I mentioned in one of my early blogs: To know yourself if to understand your strengths and weaknesses, passions and fears, your desires and dreams. It means being aware of your likes and dislikes, quirks, and your tolerances and limitations. To b mindful of your thoughts and intentionality of your actions.
How can we become more self aware? Read below for a few tips on how to hop into the driver’s seat of your ONE life. It’s never too late!
- Consider how you talk to yourself. You are not your thoughts! (more on this next week!)
- Spend time alone in quiet reflection. Connect with your own heart and mind through mindfulness and meditation. If you are constantly outrunning yourself, it will catch up with you eventually (hint- midlife CRISIS). Stop fighting and resisting negative emotion. Find tools and strategies to help you pause and feel the pain, sadness, frustration, anger.
- Write things down (aka: journalling). Start simple. Make small concrete decisions without enlisting the opinions or help of others. What do you want to eat for dinner? What is your favorite color? How do you want to spend your day? Then go deeper. What are your goals? What does a beautiful life look like to you? Think about times you felt truly joyful and times you felt immense sadness. Assess your core values and consider what they mean to you.
- Enlist the honest options of people you trust. Not those who will enable you and build you up with constant and sometimes false praise and validation. Ask those friends and family who will say the hard stuff for your benefit, not their own.
- Remove harmful goal language from your vocabulary. No more “shoulds”—shift those into doing what you really want to do in the small moments to practice trusting yourself and your decisions. (More on this next week too!)
- Try new things. Learn new skills. Don’t settle for the hamster wheel.
- Approach this with grace and love for yourself. This is NOT EASY! It requires gathering tools and then practicing daily. You don’t need to do this quickly to be “fixed.” You are not broken– you just need more resources and habits to up level your life, rather than falling into crisis. Resources can include therapy, life coaches, pastors, books, podcasts, and mentors… and blogs!
When I look a back on my early life with Jamie and the kids I feel like I see it as a beautiful blur, like the vibrant art of subway cars zooming by. It was a lot of survival, learning, joy, discomfort, enjoying moments, and searching for what’s next. My clearer, more vivid memories start about ten years ago. When I decided to stop riding in the passenger seat and allowing other people and circumstances to drive— when I decided to become more aware.
This awareness has not afforded me, and will not give you, nonstop happiness or anything close to resembling perfection. I could argue that putting my feet down in an effort to feel it all has caused me moments of more acute pain. But I do have way less self induced suffering. I feel a deeper sense of peace and connection to my life. I am in charge. I am not a victim of circumstances or other people’s thoughts or actions.
I am strong. I am powerful. I am me.
I encourage you to do the same. To open your eyes to the bright colors. To see them while standing still so that you can notice the vibrance. So you can truly live in each individual moment. It is inevitable that we will fail again, and so important to be aware so you take only a few steps down the dark path before turning around to the light.
Know you so that you can know how bright and shiny you really are. And only then can you fully help illuminate others.
Stand still and shine on.