Giving yourself an annual review and going beneath the surface

The standard annual evaluation that takes place at work is a good time to look at the negative and the positive. It’s a time to look at what’s working and what is not working. It’s a time to set goals and assess performance. It’s a time for both parties to evaluate whether or not the relationship is still mutually beneficial.

I have also found it important to evaluate the different relationships in my personal life from time to time. For many of the same reasons that employment reviews work, examining and evaluating our personal relationships can be just as valuable, if not more.

Relationship with Self: Do I nurture and take care of myself? Do I love myself? I sometimes fall into blaming and berating myself for things in my past. This is not healthy and has caused me some pain and suffering. I continue to work on my relationship with self and have found it to be the most important relationship of all.

Relationship with Job: Am I growing in my professional career? Am I still passionate about what I do? Do I dread going to work, or do I look forward to it? Am I burned out with my current job? 

Fear is an obstacle that keeps many of us from making necessary changes for growth. Leaving our comfort zone can be challenging, but I have learned to step out in faith knowing that greater things lie ahead. The Universe always has my back.

Relationship with Others: I have found it helpful to look at my relationship with each individual in my life, including friends, co-workers, family and significant others. Are those relationships encouraging growth and positivity, or are they bringing a lot of negative energy into my space? Am I moving forward or backward as a result of those relationships? What am I contributing to each individual relationship? It’s a two-way street.

Relationship with God (Spirit): When I neglect my spiritual practice, I end up feeling lost, sad and void. Connection to the spirit is vital for optimal health. Different people connect to God in different ways. One must choose the way that feeds their individual spirit.

Evaluation is essential for asking the hard questions and for taking a look at where we are on this journey of life. What is your relationship with yourself, your job, friends, co-workers and God like? Are they healthy relationships? If not, what needs to be done to move in a healthy positive direction? 

What’s Beneath the Surface?

When evaluating ourselves and others, go deep and ask, “What’s beneath the surface?”

When we see something with our physical eye, we are only seeing the surface. My mother used to say, “You can’t look at a book and tell what’s under the cover.”

I’ve often asked myself, what’s beneath the surface of the ocean? What’s beneath the surface of the ground I’m standing on?  What’s beneath the surface of my thoughts? What’s beneath the surface of every human I encounter daily?

If we could see beneath the surface, we may see things differently. If we could see beneath the surface of the physical shell of another person, perhaps we wouldn’t be so quick to judge them. What’s beneath the surface of the homeless person I see on the street? What’s their story? What is really beneath the surface of the comedian who is making others laugh?  Are they themselves laughing beneath the surface?

I have even learned the value in pausing to ask myself what is beneath the surface of my thoughts. Where did the thought originate? What does it mean? Examining my thoughts has allowed me to decide which ones to give validity. Thousands of thoughts pass through our minds daily, but our thoughts are not necessarily our reality. I put most of them in File 13 (the trash bin).

What’s beneath what others see when they look at you? What’s beneath your surface? Is it hurt, pain, bitterness, anger? Or is it love, acceptance, allowing, and peace? Is what others see on the surface a true reflection of what is beneath your surface? 

These are all great questions that I have pondered for myself. I have found it necessary to go deeper than the surface. It’s my desire to practice love with no judgment towards all fellow beings, because I have no idea what is beneath their surface. 

I love the old saying, “Never judge another until you’ve actually walked a mile in their shoes.” We all go through stuff. Being mindful of what others may be going through beneath the surface is an essential element of kindness.

In a world where there seemingly is so much hate, judgment, and division, let your light of love shine deep beneath the surface in an effort to brighten the way for others.

Vince Shifflett is a critical care nurse and writer living in Atlanta. This column originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the full issue below, and pick up a new edition each week.