Yes. You are right. This IS a oratory challenge with some mind gym thrown in as well. So for your final (gym) repetition, I challenge you to reread the heading, but this time inserting me and I. It now reads“Am I ‘me’, or the ‘me’ I have chosen to be?” Still feel like your head is in the clothes dryer? Then lets add some new words to the statement so you can see where this is really heading. Am I me, or the me I have chosen and accepted that I need to be (in order to feel safe, loved, accepted, or significant)? Now we are getting somewhere!
This is a pretty confronting statement to ask yourself when you are 40 years old (or 30, 50, 60). Are you are who you really are (at your core) or are you actually someone that you think you need to be in order to fit in, be loved, be accepted, or feel significant. We like to think that by the time we are out of our teens that we have evolved into who we are, and got life pretty much figured out. I am sure that you are not surprised just how far off the target we are at times.
Most of us are so busy putting on layers over the course of our lives that we have very little idea of who the real me is underneath it all. It is actually by peeling away our outer layers, our outer personality, our outer habits and habitual responses that we get closer to truly feeling comfortable in our own skin. We end up becoming a more solid and therefore grounded person. And most importantly we become less affected by all the things happening around us. Nice words but what the bleep does that mean in a practical sense???
Lets take an example based on a past client of mine in her late 50s. From a very early age she believed she had to prove to her mother and brother that she was intelligent (her brother called her dumb to taunt her). So for the following 40+ years she worked very hard to prove her intelligence. She succeeded in a number of business ventures but never found this fulfilling her. In her relationships she always had to prove her intelligence to her partners, and was hyper-sensitive to any criticism (which contributed to two ended marriages). So to prove her intelligence she adopted a hard, business-woman exterior (or personality) and acted out the part. A part that required her to be very left brain dominant (logical) and utilise more masculine qualities (results oriented, linear, structured, all head and no heart, etc). She became the me that she thought she needed to be, to prove her intelligence.
But her real me, we discovered, was someone who was incredibly creative, who was a great painter, who loved to garden, who was great at tattooing, and who was so much more at peace using the creative right side of her brain. When she was involved in creative activities she was most at peace, most in the flow and producing some of her greatest personal (and professional) work.
There are numerous reasons why we decide we need to be something different from who we really are. And most of it is because of something or someone outside of us, that may not know, or care, who the real you is. So are you being the person who you are on the inside, or have you become the person someone else wants you to be? For the record: if you are more aligned with your true (inner) self, you are likely to be the one sitting peacefully with the contented smile planted on your face.
So what to do?
- Ask yourself what would you be doing if you knew you could not fail and had $2,000,000 in the bank? Viktor Frankl said that “we detect, rather than invent our missions in life”.
- Identify what you truly love doing. What do you enjoy most? Where time slips away from you. Where you forget to eat and drink. Where you are in the flow. And then: make sure that this is a regular part of your life.
- Peel back the layers. Look inwards to see if what you are doing is for you or for someone else. Become self aware, as this the first step to making change.
True contentment does not come from adding more layers to yourself. It comes from peeling the layers away and getting closer to your core. To who you really are. Not who some external entity thinks you should be, or who you think they think you should be if you know what I mean 😉
As my friend Bill Shakespeare once said: This above all; to thine own self be true. Be cool with letting your true self out of the box. Get to know what it is you would really like to be doing in life. It is never too late and there is always a way to make it work. Age is no longer a good enough excuse. Choose:
- to be happier
- to enjoy life more
- to understand yourself better
- to do work you enjoy
- to step out of your (self created) safety zone
- to keep it real 😉