I've been reflecting recently on the journeys I'm on.
In this, I include every area of my life where I'm investing hard, and I'm challenged to grow and learn. Coaching of course. My physical development, gym and nutrition. Writing and video work. Course development. Dance. Relationships. My inner psychology, and relationship with myself. My mission and purpose in life.
Every one of these journeys gives me new experiences, new knowledge, and new abilities, week after week.
But the question is...
"How do I know if I'm growing?"
As part of my journaling I capture a record - as best I can - of my development. Snapshots in time of where I'm at. This includes...
- Videos of me practicing dance
- Previous blog articles I've written, and YouTube videos I've produced
- Photos of my physique, and detailed body measurements, as I work on my physical development
- Records of my strength training at the gym
- Reflections on my life, my level of happiness and fulfillment. I audio-journal these, and date-stamp them
- Reflections on the quality of my relationships, and who I have in my world- also audio-journaled
Yesterday, I spent a good hour going through my archives and looking at some of these old records, videos, and blog posts.
Photos of me looking fat...
Videos of me dancing badly...
Reflections on past relationships, expectations and disappointments...
Here's the thing,
It was hard to watch. It was hard to listen. I squirmed in a big way.
And some of those videos and blog entries were from less than a year ago.
How is that possible?
The Surprising Value of Embarrassment
I've discovered that it's very good to look at my past dance videos, blog posts, YouTubes and journals, and simply embrace the complete shock at how bad they look to me now.
I felt embarrassed to watch them...
embarrassed to believe that less than a year ago...
that was me.
That feeling of embarrassment isn't comfortable, but it tells me some very important things. When I feel it about things in my past, I'm seeing the hallmark of growth.
Here's what embarrassment tells me...
- I've grown, noticeably, and my standards and expectations have changed.
- I'm on the right track to make growth happen.
- I'm on a journey that matters to me and my core values- otherwise, I just wouldn't care.
When I feel embarrassment about my past, I know clearly that I'm in the right place.
I need to stay on this track, and invest more, because 12 months from now I want to look at today's videos and journals, and feel utterly embarrassed all over again.
If I don't feel embarrassed... then, perhaps I should be worried.
Why Do I Feel Embarrassment About These Things?
When I dig deep, I identify the feeling of embarrassment about the past as being primarily connected to Authenticity Shame.
For example, if I look at my past and see areas where I lacked courage, honesty, acceptance, or where I didn't give my best-effort, I feel a degree of shame.
The shame is not about what others think- I couldn't really care less. It's that I wasn't living by my own core values, and I cheated myself in those moments.
I let myself down... and I'm not OK making that same choice again.
Here are a few things for you to reflect on in your own journeys...
What are you embarrassed about when you look at your past?
Why are you embarrassed? What core values are behind this area of your life, or why is this important to you?
Are you capturing your progress well enough to clearly compare where you were, with where you are today?
How can you improve both your tracking, and your level of challenge so that you can grow?
What if I don't feel embarrassed?
If you don't feel embarrassed, then there are really 3 possibilities.
- You're simply not able to see the change, because you haven't recorded your past well enough to compare. How can you improve your tracking?
- You haven't changed much, which means you need to increase the challenge.
- You've changed, but it really doesn't matter to you. That particular journey simply isn't important to your core values, or your authenticity.
If you aren't identifying embarrassment or shame about any aspect of your past, you might just need some deeper reflection. Few of us are raised in an environment where we are encouraged or even "allowed" to be fully authentic from childhood- so it's very likely that you've violated your core values more than once.
And that's what you want to learn from.
Whatever the reasons, find out, and adjust accordingly.
Life is short, and time is too precious to waste.
Build the best you possible.
"Anyone who isn't embarrassed at who they were last year probably isn't learning enough."
- Alain de Botton
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