“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.” ~ Boris Pasternak
“Sometimes you surprise yourself with what you can handle, and if you come out the other end with some wisdom, then it’s not such a bad thing.” ~ Boy George
“I’m a great believer in the beauty and the power of surprise.” ~ Mark Gatiss
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself this December is the gift of surprise. Now I know usually other people are needed to surprise you – if you threw yourself a surprise party it wouldn’t be much of a surprise. However there is a way you can create your own surprises by not doing, being, and acting the same old way. Surprise is all about something new happening.
December is one month that is very encoded with our past. It’s a month where we get together with extended family to do traditions & rituals that we’ve done for years and years. We tend to have a holiday rut. How many times have you been asked about your holiday plans and you began your answer with, “We always…” and then you fill in the blank – we go home, have a big party, or take a Christmas trip, etc.
By giving yourself the gift of surprise you can break out of your holiday rut without doing anything different. That’s because your environment doesn’t need to change in order to raise your happiness level.
I’m going to give you a three-step process to create surprise in your life. Then I’m going to demonstrate the steps with an example of a hypothetical sister. However, for you to get the most out of this information it would be helpful for you to read it through once with my example to see the steps and then go back and re-read it putting yourself in place of the narrator and someone specific to your life in place of my example. That way you can play it out in your mind’s eye to see how it could work for you.
Step One: Hear Your Inner Voice
First of all, notice I said hear your inner voice instead of listen to your inner voice. The distinction is a small but significant one. You know how to listen to your inner voice; you do it all day, every day. But do you actually hear it for what it is? We often think of that voice as us. It even “sounds” just like us! But it’s not us- it’s our narrative, made up of judgments and criticisms. It’s always assessing every situation looking for right/wrong or looking good/avoiding looking bad.
When I ask you to hear your inner voice I’m asking you to detached yourself from it enough to be able to look at it as if it were a separate thing. Like you are witnessing it rather than being it. Creating this small gap between you and your inner voice opens up room for something new to happen.
Try this exercise right now. Sit for a minute and hear your voice. For some of you it will be easy to distinguish this voice, for others not so much. For those of you in the latter category know that your voice is the one saying, “What voice. I don’t have an inner voice. This is hogwash!” When you actually hear that you know you’ve found it.
Now that you’ve isolated it you can loosen its grip on your life.
Step Two: Look Behind the Curtain
This step can only be taken after you’ve isolated your inner voice because you need that space for this to happen. This is where you see situations differently. Do you remember in the Wizard of OZ how everyone had one reaction to the Great & Powerful OZ when they saw his giant, glowing face but when they peeked behind the curtain they had a different reaction when they saw that he was just a normal man with disappointments and worries?
This exercise is just like that. There are situations where you have reactions based on what plays out in front of you and I’m going to take you behind the curtain and surprise you.
Step Three: Act As If
This third step is where you act out the element of surprise. Once you’ve isolated your inner voice, and been able to peek behind the curtain, you are now in a position to act in a surprising manner.
To begin this process, choose a role model. Pick someone who has the qualities you’d like to emanate. Maybe it’s the poise of Princess Diana or Jackie O, the compassion of Mother Teresa or the Dali Lama, the humor of Erma Bombeck, Steve Martin or Dr. Seuss, or the wisdom of Oprah or Maya Angelo. Pick someone who has very big energy and is a strong icon. Also pick someone who’s positive. For example, Erma Bombeck saw the humor in everyday situations while Joan Rivers has a sense of humor based on poking fun at others. It’s very important you pick an affirming role model for this exercise to work correctly.
Next, act as if you were that person. The purpose is for you to take on the personality of your icon and act with their energy. By doing something different in the same old situation you will create a new, surprising outcome.
Bonus: Practice Exercise
So here is how it works. Suppose every year you spend the holidays with your sister. And she’s fine for the first day or so but after that it turns into a series of snippy comments, and sarcastic digs where she claims she’s just kidding when pressed. Plus, she’s always trying to one up you in front of your parents, interrupting and wedging herself in every conversation so she’s the center of attention.
First of all, notice what your inner voice is screaming at you. Hear it but don’t listen to it. Put some space in between so you can witness that it’s telling you that she’s doing it again, and that she’s so annoying, and that it’s not fair that she gobbles up everyone’s attention. That’s the narrative that typically drives your next action, but now you are going to surprise yourself and everyone else by creating a new outcome.
Next, peek behind the curtain. Now that you’re not filled with the upset and adrenaline resulting from your inner narrative, you have the space to really see what’s going on. You can now look beyond her direct actions and see what’s driving those actions. Notice how insecure she is and how unhappy her life is. Look for the worries, hurt, and fear that is fueling her words and actions. See the frightened little girl behind the curtain of bad behavior and cutting remarks.
Lastly, call up the personality you’ve already picked and step into that role. If it’s Princess Diana pull out a royal demeanor and elegance. How would she react to someone who interrupts and pushes in front of her in a conversation? Wouldn’t she just smile and wait? Wouldn’t she stay engaged, knowing that she will have another opportunity to speak soon? After all, she’s an icon for elegance and poise so you’d expect her to handle herself in that manner. I think they teach that in royalty training school.
Or tap into the wisdom and compassion of the Dali Lama. Would this situation ruffle him? I don’t think so. How would he react? With kindness and love? Compassion? Then act that way.
Channel whichever icon you chose and see what surprising changes these three steps will present in your life.
The great thing about this gift is you get to enjoy it and so does everyone else. Try it this holiday season and make it the best ever. This can be the December that everyone says they enjoyed the most, just by you giving yourself this gift of surprise.
Happy Holidays and please let me know how it goes for you. I always love it when people email or call me with their experiences. I appreciate being able to help you unwrap the gifts that are uniquely yours to share with the world.
See you next year!