I believe we all have the power to choose who we are being in every moment, and in every interaction we have with others. When we allow ourselves the power to choose, we take responsibility for our own behaviour, and the effect we have on others. We have the power to influence the world around us by making positive choices about who we are being.
Nice idea, and it sounds easy, but what does this mean in practice? What is it that we choose?
I’ve just been listening to a wonderful WBECS webinar by Jayne Warrilow in which she set out a model for states of being that has helped me to understand this idea more deeply. She talked about four states of inner being that we move between in our lives.
First is the Victim state. This can be summed up as ‘life happens to me’. From this state we feel separate, closed and fearful. We find fault with others, and believe our problems are caused by others. We look for someone to blame, and find the business of life hard work. Others see us as complainers, always ready to point the finger. Many people spend a lot of time in this state. To move out of it requires that you take responsibility and let go of blame. This state reminds me of Carol Dweck’s Fixed Mindset. Life surrounded by people predominantly in this state feels pretty toxic.
The second state is Creator. From this state ‘life happens by me’. In this state you feel empowered and in control of your life. You see problems as learning opportunities, and you know you have the power to overcome challenges. People see you as problem-solving and appreciative. For me, this state correlates to Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset.
The third state of being is the Co-Creator, when ‘life happens through me’. You are able to surrender to life, let go of attachment and trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. From this state you see life as abundant and full of possibility. You feel connected to a deeper power, whether you name it energy, spirit or God. It is Csíkszentmihályi’ s state of flow. Being in this space feels magic and requires faith and trust. From here you feel like you are living your purpose, and you can move effortlessly through change and disruption. Imagine a world where we all experienced this state every day?
The fourth state in the model is Oneness. In this state ‘life is me’. You feel divinely inspired, and know intuitively that everything is connected. You have a sense of inner peace and deep gratitude, and you believe others are whole and complete. Your approach to life is one of service, and others see you as open and calm. This is the state of profound spiritual experience. The kind that can change your life.
Does this model make sense to you? Can you relate to any of the four states from your own experience?
I can, and it’s really satisfying to me to see my experience explained and defined in this way. That’s not to say I’m a master at choosing the perfect state to be in! Occasionally I embrace Victim. More often I hang out in Creator. Right now I’m practicing my Co-creator state. Every now and then, when I’m practicing mindfulness, I get a tiny glimpse of the possibilities of Oneness. Life is a work in progress for me, as it is for everyone.
I hope this model gives you an idea of what I mean by states of being, and what it is that you might choose to work from in your own life. But what does it feel like in practice to choose the state you are in, as opposed to finding yourself in your default state in response to what is going on around you?
The first step is noticing your own behaviour with curiosity and compassion. Your inner dialogue might look something like this: “Oh, look at that! someone criticised me and I reacted with anger and bit their head off. That wasn’t really helpful, I was really behaving like a victim. Maybe I could catch the anger before it happens and find a more constructive response next time I face criticism? Maybe there is a lesson in the criticism I’m being given that would help me out if I wasn’t so resistant to it?”
Here’s an example from my own experience: I often feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of information flowing at me from all the various media and marketing channels around us. While so much of this information is interesting, and some of it really valuable for me, there is too much for me to take everything in. I’m finding that if I relax into a Co-creator state I can trust that the things I need to know will appear in front of me. Sounds a bit wacky, but in my experience this is just what happens.
It’s like when you find out you’re pregnant, suddenly you notice pregnant women everywhere. We become most aware of the things that are relevant to us. Or to put in terms of neurobiology, our brains constantly filter out the majority of the inputs to our senses, and focus on the things that are most relevant to us. You can enhance this effect by relaxing and letting it happen, rather than feeling like you need to pay attention to everything.
I find that when I am in this zone, pieces of information fall in front of me daily that deepen my understanding, or resonate with what I need to learn (coming across the webinar that inspired this blog post is a good example). When I trust this process, I can comfortably let go of needing to be on top of all the information coming at me. This takes away the constant feeling of anxiety that I might miss something important. Life feels more peaceful and less like a mad rush.
As the world around us becomes more and more clogged with information and busyness, it can be critical to learn to manage yourself so you can be at your best each day, and be there for those you love. I hope these thoughts might inspire you to take responsibility for your own behaviour, and choose to be the person you want to be.
(This post was first published in June 2018 on my LifeLab website)