iDea Blog

calling all chameleons

I’ve always prided myself on being a chameleon – someone who can fit in to any situation, with any type of crowd. It’s served me well: my friend circles are varied and wide ranging, I am a great first date (in the romantic sense back in the day, and now with friend-outings), and I am generally known to be able to go with the flow. This trait helps me experience a huge variety of circumstances and ya know, I kinda love this life of mine.

But recently this question surfaced in my noggin: How much of ME is being suppressed? When I go with the flow, am I not being ME? Am I shoving myself to the side, eagerly taking on the desires/interests/preferences of whomever I am with?

Whoa. I never thought of it in those terms and I have no idea why I suddenly did. But guess what? I suppose I have, at least a little, lost myself in the others around me. I’ve never minded…it worked for me….I was quite comfortable with this system I’ve built. Until now. Now I’ve had a change of heart.

Before you mark me off your bourgeois holiday party list or decide that there’s someone else better suited to accompany you to a bachelorette weekend in Vegas, let me be clear: I’m still flexible, I’m still up for almost anything, I’m still game. What’s different is that I now am a little more aware that I’m making a choice to be flexible/flowly/easy going gal who’ll try just about anything.

What’s the big deal with this “awareness”, you say? Well, LOTS. Just the sheer fact that I’m making this choice is a BIG DEAL. It sounds trite, it sounds like a big “whatever” but it’s not and I’ll tell you why.

Choice is a key component of mindfulness. Mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It’s a concept rooted both in traditional psychology and Buddhism. No matter where it came from, it makes sense to me. When you make a conscious choice to engage yourself in a situation, by default you’ve made a choice. When you make a choice, you feel a greater sense of control. And it’s not a false sense…you actually have more control, because you made a choice (to be engaged, to be flexible, to go with the flow). Get it?

Maybe you don’t get it just yet, but whether you do or don’t truly understand it, try it out. The next time you are doing ANYTHING, make the choice to be doing that something. “I choose to wash these dishes.” “I have decided that I will work late tonight.” “Even though it’s not the most pleasant experience for me, I have chosen to have dinner with Aunt Elmira.”  Do this repeatedly over the course of a few days.

With some practice, you’ll begin to understand the basis – and the benefits – of mindfulness.

Eventually this practice of making choices will make sense to you.

Eventually you’ll be glad you made the choice to read this.

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