I’ve just started reading Playing Big by Tara Mohr. It’s been on my reading list for quite a while but my approach to reading the past few years has been letting the Universe tell me what I need to read at that particular time. I really believe that books will deliver a completely different experience and message depending on when I read them – what’s happening in my life at that time, my mental clarity, what my soul needs..
I keep a list of titles that make their way into my space – by podcast or referral, something that continually pops up on my IG feed, then slowly make my way through, allowing for new, unexpected titles to appear whenever they need to. I am constantly seeking more information about any topic that will expand my view of the world, provide me with more insight and understanding, tools to build a better life.
When I visit the library with my kids, we all split up and go straight to the shelves where we know we will find ‘our’ books. The books that make us want to read. They return with weighty armfuls, ready to borrow and race home to start reading. Sometimes there will be books waiting on the holds shelf, and sometimes I will just have an idea of the type of book I feel like reading and search aimlessly. Sometimes when my head is too full already, I just borrow a bunch of home design magazines and dream of what my new house build will look like in the future.
Then there are the times when I go alone, without the kids, simply to return our heaving pile of overdues. Those are the days when I just wander, looking, head crooked to the side so I can read the spines and take in the colours, and wait to see what jumps off the shelf. Those books have been some of my best, most enjoyable reads. The shelves of wisdom seem to know exactly what I need on that day, and they willingly provide what is required. I really do find the library – any library – such a magical place.
I’m just starting to get into the guts of Playing Big, where Tara talks about the single most powerful practice that has made the most dramatic difference in the lives of the women she coaches to play bigger, including in her own life. It’s a visualisation exercise called ‘future self’.
“They dimmed the lights, asked us to close our eyes, get comfortable, take some deep breaths, and relax. Then, for about twenty minutes, they narrated as each of us visualised traveling to earth twenty years in the future. We met our future selves, the woman or man we’d become twenty years from now.”
Questions were asked after arriving at the home of their future selves – What kind of place did she live in? What was her presence like? Who was the woman who greeted us at the door? They were asked to have a chat with this older self, asking questions like “What do I need to know to get from where I am to where you are?” and “What has been most important about the past twenty years?”. They could ask about any dilemma in their lives and see what he or she had to say about it. Then they were guided to bring the conversation to a close, returning to the present day.
I have heard of this exercise before, but have never read about in with such detail. Tara goes on to explain how all the other students in her class had extremely moving experiences that left them in tears for good reasons. Her visit to her future self had left her in tears for the opposite reason. Thankfully her teacher led her through the exercise again where a completely different – wonderful – version of her older self appeared.
There is so much talk these days about our Inner Critic – the voice that is mean and unforgiving, reminding you of all your flaws and disappointments. Making sure your self doubt creeps in wherever possible. Tara covers this at the beginning of the book which I had trouble getting through. I just couldn’t latch on to the words. Some books flow so easily you just drink them in – and then there are others that are so hard to read, but once you push through the hard part, become wonderful. This is one of those books for me. I couldn’t connect with the inner critic parts – not because I don’t have one or experience self doubt – but because it seemed so harsh to me. That we are beaten down – BY OURSELVES – before we even try something. For some women it seems crippling. I read with a heavy heart, trying to understand it to such an extreme.
Once I turned the pages to move onto the Inner Mentor, that was a different story. I am definitely a glass half full person, so when acting on difficult challenges I prefer to begin from a positive place. Tara talks about her own challenges and the way she began to consult her Inner Mentor to transform and shape her decisions when her life was devoid of anything that was truly her. Instead of allowing the voice of her Inner Critic to drown out everything else, she consulted her Inner Mentor. Continually stopping to ask what would her older, wiser self do in this situation? Not just the big decisions either. She talks of choosing clothes and furniture. One day realising she only had one piece of furniture in her lounge room that she actually liked and was a true reflection of her and her personality.
How many of us choose items that we use every single day – those seemingly insignificant minutes that make up our whole lives – items that may seem practical and useful but we actually don’t even like. Clothing, furniture, crockery, artwork, pens, notebooks, bedside lamps, tea cups. These things, these choices, are a reflection of who we are at our core. When people come into my home for the first time and comment how me it is, how welcoming and homely it feels, I nod in agreement. Because it is. The cupboards of colourful crockery, the muddle of artwork and photographs, brightly coloured cushions and patterned clothing in my wardrobe. Unapologetically me.
My Inner Mentor bears a striking resemblance to Diane Keaton. Boldly hilarious and witty, carefree and fabulously dressed. Alive with purpose, surrounded by oversized colourful art, having a wine by the pool, surrounded by the people she loves.
Tara talks of conversations with her Inner Mentor over a period of time, many seemingly unimportant and mundane, before realising one day, that her life had transformed into everything she had hoped for. Surrounded by a life that was truly her. Guided to it all by her Inner Mentor.
I invite you to spend some quiet time travelling to meet with your future self. She may have some answers to difficult questions you’ve been pondering lately. I’m looking forward to more conversations with my Inner Mentor. Thankfully, her voice is much louder than my Inner Critic. Could be all the wine she’s drinking by the pool, but whatever!