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with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

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Where’s the “I” in My Life?

Categories: Work/Life

3 comments

Gina Blitstein, offers up simple, yet effective, solutions to common problems women entrepreneurs face and the stresses they can lead to.

Recently an Internet friend of mine, “C” bemoaned the loss of her personal identity. She admitted she’d been feeling overwhelmed and as though her life was not her own. I, being the helpful sort, concluded that C must not be the only person feeling like she is a stranger to herself. So I decided to put my research skills to task on the problem and see what advice exists to help C and others in the same boat regain their sense of self.

C is a forty-something married lady with children and a job. She is my Internet friend, so other than those superficial things, I don’t know a lot about her. As far as I can tell from Twitter, she has a snappy sense of humor, a great attitude about her family and an affinity for chocolate-covered cherries. Her appreciation of her husband and soft spot for puppies is charming. In other words, she is a woman who could be our neighbor, best friend, sister or ourselves. Let’s help C find herself.

We tend to lose ourselves as we become swallowed up by life’s responsibilities. Some we have no control over and some are self-imposed. Often it seems easier to give of ourselves - even to the point of giving ourselves away - than to make the hard choices that could leave us with our identity intact.

Dena Marie Patton, Speaker, Author, Life Coach and CEO, offers these ten tips on how to create empowering boundaries that will allow more of “you” to shine through:

1. Honor yourself by setting realistic limits for yourself.
2. Practice saying no (gracefully).
3. Practice checking ‘in’ with your boundaries before you say yes to anything.
4. Protect your most important areas of your life by setting boundaries around them (like a fence around a garden).
5. Try not to get consumed in 1 or 2 roles (i.e. business owner, wife, mother) step out of that role daily even just for a few minutes.
6. Invest in your future by keeping yourself balanced, healthy and focused on what is important.
7. Practice coming from your center. Your center is the most powerful place and when you get pulled in a million different directions you end up far from your center and ‘winging’ it, which is exhausting.
8. Promise not to ’should’ on yourself. Eliminate the word should from your vocabulary.
9. Train people to honor your boundaries by honoring them yourself, first.
10. Surround yourself with people who empower and honor you and your goals.

The real challenge is to admit that we may have allowed our identities to slip away. Of course we never meant for it to happen but one day we wake up and wonder where we are beneath all the hats and masks we wear.

So, how do we find ourselves when we are feeling lost - adrift at sea, miles from the self we used to know?

Ian Coburn, author of the upcoming book, “Choice - The Meaning of Life: How to Have More and Better Choices in Business, Relationships, Government and Life,” suggests we reflect on these key questions to reconnect with our inner self:

* What do you need?
* What’s important to you?
* What are your responsibilities?
* What are your limitations?

Ian believes that it is when you feel out of touch with your self and your needs, that you are most susceptible to feeling that you are not in control of your own life. You’ve “weakened your immunity” so to speak, and allowed other things to overshadow your sense of self.

The core of ourselves - the “I” has simply got to remain the focus of our life. It is not selfish to take care of ourselves. When we do, we have the energy and the self-confidence to be our most effective. The most important role to play is that of ourselves.

Have you lost the “I” in your life?



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3 comments so far...

  • It is very hard to do but so difficult. I had a group that wanted me to participate so badly they offered to change meeting days to make it possible for me to attend.
    It was hard to continue to be firm yet graceful. I knew I was unable to take that responsibility at that time but since it was something I believed in, and might in the future wish to work with, grace under pressure was key so as to not burn bridges.
    For myself I take time to sing which is my singular passion. My goal for 2010-11 is to find a way to bring that to a higher community level.

    Mich  |  December 4th, 2009 at 4:58 pm

  • Wow…If I had a penny for all the “hats” I have worn. I have learned about myself, (mostly in relationships) that I become the person that the other person wants me to be, or more likely, what I THINK they want me to be. So then, where are my boundries? The answer unfortunately becomes, “my boundries are THEIR boundries.” That is very sad when I see it typed out on the screen. It makes it real. And also therapeutic! I am almost 31 years old, and have realized that not only have I lost the “I” in my life, I am saddened to think that I have not yet found it. I bounce from a people pleaser, to a rebellious one who says “I’ll do what I want”, most after a bout of people pleasing that didn’t seem to work out in the magic way that I thought that it would. Balance is probably something that I need.

    So, the questions you asked were:
    “What do I need”? — I don’t know
    “What’s important to me?” –still figuring that out
    “What are my responsibilities?” –as little as possible as I don’t trust myself with too much responsibility
    “What are my limitations?” –still testing myself

    Thank you for opening my eyes, I will take this as a serious excercise and try to start finding out what “I” need, who “I” am, and how “I” can take care of me, so that maybe one day, I can help others discover their center as you do Gina. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    Erin  |  February 4th, 2010 at 3:42 am

  • I hang on to the “I” in my life with a vice-like grip. I have to. I honestly feel that if my day is literally given to others on a daily basis, then I have to make sure I’m considered in the mix somewhere, and I still feel myself slowly losing to the demands of others. My salary doesn’t help it go away because it doesn’t motivate me. What motivates me is taking whatever time I have to do something I enjoy, just for myself. I look forward to it.

    Kelly  |  February 5th, 2010 at 2:00 am