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Reinventing yourself


When there is loss or a monumental change in our lives, how do we continue, and what are the rules?

Basic questions

  • How do you go from one of two-plus to only one?
  • How do you simply continue when the very basis of your continuance in the past is gone?
  • How do you deal with what you think were or might have been mistakes?
  • How do you re-coop the sense of opportunities missed?
  • How do you measure yourself now that the measuring rules have changed?
  • How do you restart again after so long a time of knowing where to put the next foot?
  • How do you live with the sense of loss?
  • How do you know when you have made the right decision when the criteria are entirely different this time?
  • What do you do now that the routine of life is suddenly no longer routine?
  • How do you realign the being identified as part of…?
  • And quite simply, where do you turn now that the one(s) you turned to are no longer there?

    For some, these questions are nonstarters, but for others there are from 3-4 or all of them with which to contend.

    What do you do?

    This is a time when none of the easy answers suffice. None of the old saws or wisdoms apply, and almost nobody can help you because quite simply you must reinvent yourself.

    To just think of moving on or of forgetting the past, is impossible to consider because it means denigrating the individual or those who were by your side. And then, there are all those who stand on the side lines and for whom what you do does matter as it is a reflection of you and of the relationship(s) you had. They are the judge and jury in your new circumstances and their votes weigh heavily.

    In the case of a person lost, as well as in the event of those left behind, the answer must always be the same although it takes varying routes.

    You must attempt to be who you think you are whether you are right or not. Only time and your actions can uncover the mistakes or missteps taken from this point forward. But, it is important that you believe at each moment that this is you, this is right for you because of who you are.

    There are no other judges – only you of yourself because all other judges only have their perspective to work from and that is from the outside, not where you are on the inside.

    In many cases, it is the question of "Really, who am I?" What do I think? What am I good at? What do I want for the rest of my life? When I will look back, what do I want to say about myself? I tried but failed? I mistakenly listened to someone else? I was forced to do what I did because of circumstances, finances, peer pressure, or mistaken ideals? Or, I took the offers because they were there and it was the easier thing to do. But, opportunities, suggestions from well wishers, expectations, and needs are all blocks in the re-discovery process.

    There is need for some down time, and not the rush to move directly or too fast into another slot before reconsideration of who it is that is doing all of this - a place where only you are with yourself. You need to find this place and this time. It can sometimes be very difficult to find. There are too many forces acting against the recreation or discovery process but, it is crucial. And then there is the possibility that when you have given yourself that time and you are alone, nothing comes, no decisions can be made, no discovery is possible.

    I was offered a job, for which I had been waiting quite some time. And when it came, it was clear that I did not want to spend my time doing it. My friends understood. But I was left in a vacuum once again for I had no other opportunities or directions. And then in off moments I would start thinking about one particular thing and developing it. I would put it off as not worthy of my attention but it kept coming back again and again. Until one day, I sat down and started actively doing it, creating it, producing it for delivery. And it flowed naturally, as though all of the time, the pieces were just waiting in line to fall into place. But still, it did not seem to fulfill all of the needs which I felt had to be fulfilled. Particularly, my obligations, finances, the positive opinions of others.

    But, to the question "Is this me?" The answer was "yes". Regardless of what others might think, this was me. And I kept putting other things aside so that I could work on it not knowing where it would lead. It is as if this thing was out to discover me and not the other way around.

    The most important activities for you to do are:

  • Listen to yourself. What are you thinking about? What occupies your time both mentally and physically apart from thinking about the past? Whatever it is, it might not occur right away or when it does occur you do not recognize it as a separate entity in the midst of those things which you must do, which you are obligated to do, which you have set for yourself to accomplish.

    And then, you will find things which you did in the past but did not know what to do with them because they did not fit into the ongoing process of your life at that time. You now find that they are part of this process occurring now. Try relocating or reconstructing these past incidents, creativities, or activities. And, you will start to see the thread which is you.

    One word of caution: Even if you feel that what you are doing is a 'hobby' and not something to be taken seriously, not something which can earn you the money you need to fulfill the needs of those who are around you or depend on you, not something which will advance you or your name or your fortunes – nonetheless, fulfill it to its fullest extent and then reevaluate its potential in all of these areas. There is a very good possibility that it will fulfill all of these "obligations" as a natural consequence. If you think of all those who have out-distanced others, and have been the creative geniuses, it is because they fulfilled what was emanating from them, and that which they basically embodied. It still may be that its potential is only self fulfillment or satisfaction – but even in that you have gained the world and discovered yourself.

  • Do not hide from or try to escape thinking about the past. This need to think about the past regardless of how you feel about it, is in some ways a precursor to moving forward into the future – not because of the understanding of it or the honoring of it, or the distancing yourself from it, but because it is part of the healing process - the process by which we become whole again and come to an understanding of what the former existence meant to us and to the other(s). This process, over which we often have little or no control, must be honored.

  • Within all this, fulfill your obligations. This is very important. For no matter what accomplishments you may achieve in the future, if your obligations were not fulfilled, they will be an impediment to your moving forward – not just because of others, but within yourself.

  • Lastly, keep in touch with those who support you, even if it is not with regard to the project on which you are working, but in general. Man is by nature a social animal. There are those of us who can go for long periods of time without this contact. But, at a time when all the world has been turned on its head, the contact with others is important. You must give yourself every opportunity to reap the rewards and acknowledgement which are the impetus and basis to continuing to move forward.

    Fulfilling Obligations I mentioned in a previous part, the necessity to fulfill obligations. This is often thought of in monetary terms but although this may be part of the obligation package and the one which often weighs heavy on us, but there are others which are in fact more important and comprise obligations both to ourselves as well as others. A limited list:

    What are these obligations?

  • To fulfill a promise, an expectation
  • To act honorably toward others, the society, memories
  • To care for those who depend on us whether they be a part of our family or that which has been entrusted to us by others or by ourselves – living entities such as plant and animals, or material possessions.
  • To fulfill obligations to ourselves to act with honor, honesty, and to be true to ourselves.
  • To preserve remembrance of things and people in our past with honor.
  • To protect that which needs protection and depends on us for that protection whatever that may entail. This may include persons, an animal or other form of life in our care, or that which is passed down to us - an heirloom which is meant to be passed on,
  • To fulfill those expectations which come with doing business, or filling a particular role in an organization, group, or the community or just as part of humanity (the human community). In part, many of these are what we might call only expectations but their obligatory nature is often quite well defined.
  • To provide for continuance of connections which are important to others and to the memory of those who are lost to us or have been left behind.
  • To make arrangements to fulfill these obligations over time and to procure agreement with those effected, making every effort to fulfill the agreement and if necessary, redrafting the agreement to fit ensuing circumstances.
  • To our friends not to deceive, disrespect, belittle, or disregard them.

    ฉ copyright 2008 J. Morgan Thomas All rights reserved

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