I call them the “me or not me” moments—a pause point when I know it’s time to consciously review my current ways of thinking and behaviors. To make choices and changes to more closely align with my authentic sense of being.
Often it takes a crisis or shift in life circumstances to demonstrate this inherent ability to question oneself. But I’m trying to up my game, to pose The Me or Not Me question more frequently throughout the day. I find this allows the flexibility to choose stretch behaviors that help me grow, learn, and have more fun while simultaneously recognizing that certain ways of acting don’t represent the real me.
It’s so easy to get out of whack.
As an example, my friend was recently in the hospital in intensive care. I made many visits, sitting by her side as she struggled for breath and hallucinated from the pain medications. I was distraught. All my energy focused on practically willing her to get better.
Pulling into our driveway after a hospital visit, I saw my husband had parked his tractor so that I had to back-up my car in order to pull into our garage. I moved the car in reverse and felt a sickening thud. Without thinking, I had backed into a tree and shattered my left rear tail light along with putting a major dent in my fender.
About a week later after another nerve-wracking hospital visit with my friend, I took my car to a collision center for an estimate from the “car meets tree” incident—$1,510.85 of damage to be exact. As I was leaving, I slowly backed out of the parking space and oh lord, I felt that familiar thud again! I had hit another car whose owner was about to pick up his newly repaired vehicle.
“This is so not me,” I thought. Well…first I questioned my sanity, had a good cry, took a deep breath and only then acknowledged that the universe might be trying to tell me that in spite of my good efforts, it was time to slow down, let go of the need to fix everything, and get myself grounded again.
In this case, my “out of whack” lasted a couple of weeks. I guess that’s good news, for I think of how easily these things can turn into months and years—when we lose sight of who we really are. After years of a punishing job, challenging relationship, or just the difficulties of life, we can’t remember what it’s like to relax, to not feel anger or fear, or to make our own choices.
Maybe we have become so comfortable in our self-perceptions that we refuse to think out of the box and consider another point of view, a more appropriate way of being and becoming at this new point in our life. It may be time to question if who we were in the past is what we want to be in the future. Will the real me please stand up.
No blaming others allowed with The Me or Not Me question. It’s all on you—both a frightening and empowering position. Frightening in that you have to assume responsibility for your own behaviors. Empowering in that you aren’t allowing other people or circumstances to determine how you perceive or conduct yourself.
Getting more skilled with the Me or Not Me question can be as simple as starting your day with a conscious choice of how you choose to think and act for the next 24 hours. Consider any challenging situations or conversations that might occur.
Take a deep breath and think it through. Ask, “What makes me feel good about myself? What makes me feel less than? Do I choose to be focused and calm or hostile and angry? What’s me? What’s not?” Take your pick.
This is challenging work. We resist. We often allow fear, anger, or the ego to take charge. I sometimes wonder, “Why is being not me so much easier sometimes than being the real me?”
Maybe there are no answers, or maybe it’s as simple as the opening line in Scott Peck’s classic book, The Road Less Traveled where he begins with, “Life is difficult.” And the difficulties of life require a set of tools to solve life’s problems. Asking the Me or Not Me question is one of those tools to help us on our journey.