It sounds important - self-actualization - and it is, but what is it really? For me, it is the most exciting concept I can imagine. It really means that I can become anything I really, truly decide to become, within the scope of what I myself control. I cannot decide to become President, that is outside of my control. But there is so much that is in my own control. I can actually decide to self-actualize and begin to make it happen. I've tested the theory.
One example began for me last January. At the urging of my doctor, I signed on at Body Structures Gym and began to pump iron. I had never been a physically active person, so this was no small commitment. I made the commitment nevertheless.
During the first three months, Elsa Bergey and I shared a trainer and she later confided to me that the staff was afraid I wouldn't make it. But I did! I found the secret to succeeding - I just did it. Like the Nike slogan, Just Do It, I just did it. I remember thinking, there is no magic bullet, all I need to do is come and do it. It was, it is still, that simple.
Like the Nike slogan, Just Do It, I just did it.
I remember thinking, there is no magic bullet,
all I need to do is come and do it.
It was, it is still, that simple.
Quitting smoking is another triumph I count as my number one lifesaver. I used to pray to God to help me stop without having to kill me. My final victory came 7 years ago. How did I do it? I stopped smoking. No, I know it isn't easy. I smoked from college days, off and on, all those years. I managed to quit many times, once for five years, another time three years, once for six months, and so on. Not to mention a thousand times for a few hours or days. I heard once that as long as smokers keep trying to quit, we will eventually succeed. I proved it.
I'm working on being calm and pleasant. I can be calm and pleasant and I just want to be calm and pleasant all the time. Why not? If I can be sometimes, I can be more and more of the time. I realized that if I am grouchy at work, who is going to call me on it? I'm the Publisher, after all, so that slows down needed critique. I told Nikki, our General Manager who has been with me for 15 years, that she needs one of those unpleasant horns where one squeezes the rubber ball to make a noise when I'm cranky and a little bell to ring a Tinker Bell sound when I correct myself and become pleasant.
What I've actually done is to monitor myself. When I find myself grousing, I make that grating horn sound out loud, restate what I'm saying in a more pleasant tone, and then utter Tinker Bell's ding-a-ling. No, I haven't gone over the edge, I'm just employing a little behavior modification. You'll have to ask the 16 people who work with me if it is working or not. I think it is, if only to make me more aware of what I'm doing. Being aware of a problem, after all, is the first step to being able to fix it.
It is easy for me to concentrate on my business even when I'm with my husband, so I like to eat out with him where there are no distractions, just to sit across a table and listen to what is happening in his life. I ask myself one question, What would I do if I was on a date?
In the beginning of any relationship we listen, really listen, to one another and that makes for intimacy of the soul. Too often, we lose sight of what brought about that closeness and we stop paying attention. I don't want that to happen.
After being away with my sister and mother for two weeks recently, I went to dinner with Terry and hung on his every word. I watched his face with those great dimples that I love and his wonderfully kind smile and resolved not to take this good man for granted. If I expect to have a loving husband, I need to be a loving wife. All streets need to be two-way.
One of my biggest challenges is to run my little business, which has become a bigger business, better. My CPAs' firm, White, Wilson, is unusual in that they do much more than count our beans; they work to grow the value of businesses. It's such a simple concept and it is so needed, especially for small and medium sized businesses. After a year of participating in their Businesses Getting Results seminars, which led to our best year ever in the midst of this uncertain business climate, I'm embarking on an even more extensive program under their guidance. White, Wilson offers the services, but I had to realize that I needed those services before they could help me. Awareness - it has to come first.
Whatever it is that we want to be and to do in our lives is possible. There is someone out there who can help us and there is Someone Up There also. And there are a lot of imperfect people like me who are struggling to self-actualize who can point to some improvements and say to you, 'If I did it, so can you.' Just think of what one young man managed to do and remember his words, 'Let's roll.'
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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