A few years ago I was having dinner at a Hollywood restaurant with several of my husband’s childhood friends– one of whom was a movie producer who owned the restaurant, and another was some big deal in the music industry. I gave meaning and importance to their glamorous titles. I decided that they were better than me because they had money and celebrity. In that rarefied air I felt oversized, underdressed, and at the same time puny and invisible.
I can still feel the outrage of my self-generated nightmare. My dinner companions may have lacked the social skills necessary to help me feel at ease, but I brought the powerless attitude.
I’m reminded of this as I think about circumstances that bring out the best (and worst) in us. My favorite way of being is the exact opposite of that dinner party. I want to feel expansive, engaged with others and comfortable exactly as I am. Certain environments contribute to our success. Clients have recently told me they feel most like themselves as a gracious hostess at home; an energized team member at work; an inspiring leader at group seminar; or an artist alone in the studio.
If we identify the qualities that make those locations effective we can choose them and build them into our lives like architectural details. With my tongue in my cheek I call them Highly Operative Me Environments. My goal is to spend as much time as possible at H.O.M.E., feeling like my me-est self– by that I mean in my skin, true to myself, living my highest values.
Where do you feel most like your favorite self? What are you doing? With whom are you interacting? What’s around you? What values are you honoring? I know that for me to feel fully myself I must be learning, connecting, and laughing. My Highly Operative Me Environment will include challenges, other people, and fun. Someone else’s H.O.M.E. might have solitude, nature, and physical activity. Another’s might have music, computers, and knotty problems to tackle. Look around and see where you feel most alive. Now ask how much time you spend there. If the answer’s not “most of the time” it’s time to move back H.O.M.E.
If it seems impossible to change to a new environment maybe there are ways to adapt the existing one to be more supportive. For example, you may not feel able to leave your current job, but perhaps you could take on new responsibilities to make it more challenging, or delegate to make it less stressful. Maybe you can’t afford to rent the perfect studio space yet, but you could clean out that spare room and start there. Start somewhere. Take that pottery class. Join that biking club. Choose to put yourself where you thrive.
To turn your current reality into a Highly Operative Me Environment ask yourself:
a. Where do I feel fully myself?
b. What values of mine are being honored there?
c. How could I apply those values elsewhere in my life?
You don’t need ruby slippers. All you need is to know the way H.O.M.E.