Locate Your Self

title_pageHere’s a short excerpt from my book, The Seer, dealing with the dance between investments, limitations, and the roles we play in life. This conversation is a kind of coaching session and is happening via online chat:

Me:…All week I’ve asked myself, “why?” Why the dramatic shift in experience from role to role? I’m a bit shocked to realize that I play many, many roles each day. In each role I want something and what I want is different depending upon the people I am with. I realized that my roles are not about me in isolation – and what do I mean by that? I mean that I define my role by how I define the relationship I am in at the moment. For instance, in my workshop, I assumed the role of “guide” and I wanted to lead the young people to some new insights that might help them create their businesses. In my conversation with my parents, in the role of “son,” I wanted them to be pleased with my work. I wanted to share and I wanted their approval. So, my role is defined by relationship and in each different relationship I tell a specific story based on what I want or need. I’ve “cast” myself in these little mini-stories. Or to use your term, “role” is the way I “locate” myself in the story.

Virgil: And how does this knowledge help you with your questions about business?

Me: The first thing that occurs to me is that I have the capacity to locate myself in a different way if I don’t like the role I’m playing. I can change how I locate myself. Also, there is a dance with the words “limitation” and “investment.” I took notes all week and realized that I was using the verb “to invest” over and over again to describe my experience of different roles. So, for instance, during my dinner with my friend Bruce I invested in helping him. I wanted Bruce to know that I cared about his challenges. Then, I watched Bruce invest in being the wine expert. It was his way of caring for me and demonstrating his expertise. I began to see my investments as keys to discerning my limitations. In some roles I’ve invested in the idea that I can’t do something or that I’m not good at something. In some roles I diminish myself; my limitations are investments in being small.

Virgil: Just a caution: as you explore further the dance between investment and limitation, remember to practice suspending your judgment. Remember: you are having experiences first so you can see how you make meaning and begin to choose how you make meaning.

Me: Thank you. It’s a good reminder. I was beating myself up every time I     realized I was investing in being small.

Virgil: We tell ourselves stories. We locate ourselves within the stories. In fact, that is the next recognition: you locate yourself within your story. We do it physically (like your description of choosing the table in the restaurant); we do it through the roles we assume – specifically our assumptions of how we need to play our roles, what is ours to do, etc. Locating is simply a way of establishing comfort. We sort to the known. If you judge how you locate yourself, you miss the opportunity to change how you locate yourself.

Me: Right. Judgment blinds me to the choices I am making.

Virgil: Judgment is always a version of the “things are happening to me” story. In fact, judgment is a way of locating: it is the warning signal when we step too close to discomfort. When I judge myself and say, “I’m an idiot,” I’m actually locating myself, pulling myself back into my comfort zone. When I judge others, “They are idiots,” I’m locating myself in a higher status position. The action of diminishing “them” elevates me back into a comfortable status position. Thus, suspending your judgments removes the easy step back to comfort and allows you to stand in “not knowing” and see what is there beyond what you think is there.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

Or, go here for hard copies.

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