The Me You Want to Be: How small, values-driven choices add up to a mighty life
Have you ever felt like change is too hard? Like when you think about the places you feel stuck It just feels too big to get unstuck? What if there were a simpler, smaller place to start?
That place is this moment.
Each moment affords us an opportunity to choose: What we want to do and how we want to do it. In other words, who is the Me you want to be, in this one moment? Do you see the “me” situated inside “moment”?
I’ll give you an example from my own life. A few years ago, I was driving down the freeway in my Mini Cooper convertible. I loved this car; it was fast and fun. And red. Having grown up in the Boston area, my driving style was a tad aggressive. I was cruising along in the left lane when I came upon a slow driver. I thought, Come on, man, move over! This is the fast lane, jerk! My body got tense, I felt immensely irritated, and I got right up on his bumper and flashed my lights, feeling righteous and thinking, I’ll show him. Jerk.
But in the next beat, I thought, Really? Is this what you want to be about in your life? Trying to intimidate strangers into driving faster or changing lanes so you can get somewhere thirty seconds faster? And the answer was no. I wanted (and still want) to be someone who chooses kindness, understanding, and consideration as I navigate my life (and my car). So I backed off.
I didn’t know the pokey driver, nor would I ever meet him. It was simply about choosing the type of human—the Me—I wanted to be in that one moment. Maybe it’s no coincidence that “me” sits inside “moment.” When my irritation showed up and took over the wheel, connecting to my values gave me the power to reclaim the drive.
Values are qualities of being and doing (like kindness, understanding, and consideration in the example above)—they are what we choose to do or not do (tailgate or drive at a safe distance), and how we choose to do it (rudely or respectfully). Values are the Me you want to be.
Source: Louise Gardner/ACT Auntie
Try connecting these ideas to your own personal experience. Bring to mind a recent seemingly small or insignificant moment when you felt less than proud of your comportment. Maybe you sent a passive-aggressive text or snapped at someone you care about; maybe you saw someone you recognized and pretended not to see him or her; maybe you told a fib. What thoughts and feelings did the situation trigger in you? What did you do or not do? What did the choice get you (how did you immediately feel)? Notice how even a small thing has its purpose—it “works” or you wouldn’t do it. In my example, tailgating and flashing my lights made me feel powerful in a situation I couldn’t control. Was your choice in line with the Me you truly wish to be? If that Me could hit rewind and have a do-over, what would they do differently and why?
These seemingly small or insignificant points in time matter. In fact, maybe they are not so small at all. We only get so many graduations, weddings, babies, and promotions. The rest of life is a series of small moments strung together. Notice what starts to emerge when you make values-driven choices in each small moment. When you choose the Me you want to be, the moments add up—to a life more mighty.
If you enjoy Jill’s writing and want to learn more about living a mighty life based on deeply held personal values, check out her upcoming book, Be Mighty: A Woman’s Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance, available for preorder here (release date 1/2/20). You can also follow her on Twitter at @jill_stoddard.