Recently, I had the great pleasure of stumbling upon someone named Jamie Catto. I came across his blog and then, soon after I did, one of his posts went viral. His post “REAL is the new SEXY” was all over the place last week and I was very happy to see that occur, as it means it struck a chord with many people.
I wanted to learn more about Jamie, so I reached out to him and have been able to communicate with him a little bit. I also sought out videos of some of his speaking engagements and I enjoy all of them immensely. However, one in particular really hit home to me in the past week, as I continue my journey of self-improvement and realization.
The video called “Transforming Shadows Into Rocket Fuel” is amazing, but one part in particular leads me to write today. Around the 9:30 mark of the video, Jamie asks the audience that day to take part in an exercise and, open-mindedly while I watched, I did the same.
He prompts the audience to think of someone they really don’t like. He doesn’t necessarily mean someone you don’t like because of something they’ve done, but rather because of who they are, how they operate and what they’re about.
To be honest, there were two people in my head at this point and I really couldn’t make a distinction between them, so I just kept both of them in mind.
Next, Jamie asks you to come up with one adjective, that one thing about that person—or people, in my case—which you really can’t stand. I found it interesting how it was nearly impossible for me to differentiate between the two people in my mind and as I tried to complete this step of Jamie’s exercise. I found they both shared the same reason as to why I have difficulty with them.
Now, focus on that one thing about them. What is it?
For both of the people in my head, they are people who constantly live in the past. They are defined by what has already happened and, because of that, they have little hope for the future. It is depressing to think they believe the best of their lives is behind them and it’s downhill from here on in. As you would expect, with an attitude on life like that, they really aren’t much fun to be around.
After focusing on what it is about those people, the next step in Jamie’s exercise is to realize something which knocked me to the floor. Jamie may as well have slapped me across my face.
That thing about the person—or people—in your mind is a very large part of YOU. That is why you don’t like it in them. It is something you edit the most about yourself or that thing you most try to hide from others.
Whoa, Jamie. Ouch.
Now, instead of having this realization bring you down about yourself, there is a way to use this moment to grow. It involves accepting yourself for who you were in the past, who you are now and who you want to be in the future.
If you don’t like this aspect of yourself, Jamie says to remember this character in your life was created to help you through a difficult time in your life. It was useful to you at one point and, because you are here today, the character did its job well.
Without question, this is a part of me I’ve struggled with for a long time. I have moments in my past where I was let down, where “bad” things happened to me outside of my control and, of course, there are things in my past of which I am not proud. With my depression, it is very easy to slip into a downward spiral, but, of course, I am finding more productive ways to deal with those moments as they come up.
But now? It’s time to let go of that character you don’t want anymore. Instead of killing a part of your past with a decision today, it’s time to embrace it and wear your past proudly. The mission today is to thank the character for doing the job it did for you because it helped you get through what you needed to get through and they performed well.
However, you never told the character their job was over. They got you through, but you never assigned them a new task.
I did this for myself last week, everyone. It was wonderful to reassign a job to that part of my past. Do the same today for yourselves, everyone.
For me, taking part in Jamie’s exercise after coming across it was really eye-opening because it made me think in a different way. That’s what my entire journey is about right now. When someone doesn’t strike me right or I judge someone or their actions very quickly, I now plan to pause and think about it, rather than writing them off.
It seems logical to do exactly that, but sometimes you need to hear it from someone else for it to click. It did with me, apparently.
To finish off the exercise, Jamie does something I believe is absolutely brilliant. For the next week, set up your life to teach you about yourself. Each person, event or moment and your reaction to it is a moment to learn deeply about yourself…and I’m doing exactly that this week.
I strongly encourage all of you to do the same.
In this public space, I want to thank Jamie Catto for all he does. While he’s been doing wonderful work in a number of areas for years, I am only finding him now. I now know that is because I was supposed to come across him at this point in my life. I’m incredibly appreciative I have and can’t wait to learn the other lessons his amazing work will teach me.