Monday, March 10, 2008

Who Am I?

All of us are the products of our gene pools (that’s why this chapter begins with parents); our experiences (that’s why the preceding section looks at patterns and fantasies); and our choices, intellect, and emotions, which is what this section looks at. By now, you’re beginning to understand that there are no perfect people and no perfect characteristics. Almost anything can have a plus and a minus. You can’t begin to work on emphasizing the good stuff and downplaying the icky until you know exactly what and where each is.
So to work:
  1. 1. List the things you really love about yourself in your dating notebook, and be very specific. What you love about yourself is the basis of everything else, but for heaven’s sake, don’t write, “I’m a really nice person.” What does nice mean? Instead, write that you are patient with your little brother, impatient with a check-out clerk, likely to snitch a candy bar if no one’s watching —well, actually, that part goes in the next step; so carry on with the good stuff, or if you can’t separate ’em, begin the “what I’m not crazy about” list and come back to this one after you’ve purged yourself. Make sure that this list is long enough to withstand the next task, which is to list what you don’t like about yourself. If you can’t come up with at least ten specific good things, you’re having a pity party or you need a therapist, seriously. We are each responsible for fashioning ourselves as likable by our own standards, at the very least. If you can get other folks to agree, terrific; if not . . . well, we’re not talking crazy here.
  2. Now complete the I’m-not-crazy-about-these-things-in-myself list. Just bedrock — who you are and what you can change and what you’re going to have to learn to live with yourself — goes here. Some of the things you’re proudest of often have a downside. For example, if you’re independent, you may not be as attuned to others’ feelings as you would like. If you’re sensitive, you may be too dependent on others’ opinions.
The point of this exercise is to emphasize the positive and either downplay or obliterate the negative. The very act of thinking about yourself in this way, being specific, and taking inventory is the first step toward taking responsibility and changing what you can and want to change about yourself. Then you can begin to repattern your behavior: Snap that rubber band against your wrist when you lose your temper or fine yourself when you gossip; focus on your great posture and ability to put others at ease.

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