As far as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be different from who I was, while feeling deeply apart, different, weird. I wanted to be taller, skinnier, I wanted curly hair, a different eye color. I wanted to be more athletic.
But besides wanting a different physical aspect, I most importantly wanted to feel differently. I was always under the impression that others had their shit together and I didn’t. I admired executive women who left all day until late at night to work a seemingly exciting job. I also admired the ones who seemed so fulfilled taking care of their family full time and I felt sometimes at a loss because I couldn’t fall under any of these categories.
I wanted to spark purpose, serenity, and confidence but I just couldn’t because I was looking for the spark everywhere but where it actually was. I would spend countless hours sitting on my meditation cushion, I would eat raw food, sprouted seeds, drink my wheatgrass shots and my green smoothies. I could run, take a week intensive pilates workshop or go to the yoga studio twice a day.
I would have changed everything that could possibly be changed: my diet, my habits, my mindset. I believed something was out there for me to try and finally achieve this ultimate state, this mysterious state I would enter after changing things or myself. I studied and applied strategies, working hard to make myself a more efficient person. A better person. I different person. This went on until I experienced a severe burnout. I was drained and after seeking external change to the extreme, I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I’m not praising status quo or saying that you should go around eating junk food, depleting your health with nasty habits or being a jerk to everyone you meet. I’m trying to underline the importance of the quality of our intention: what is at the root of our actions? Do we want to try new behaviors to change who we are because we don’t like what we see in the mirror every morning? What drives our craving for a change?
Before we take a look at our intention, we should consider the perception dimension. How we perceive ourselves often shapes how we perceive the world.
Oftentimes, we have a distorted vision of ourselves and we fail to see the goodness that already lies inside of every one of us. This leads us to want to change things, mostly externally, to get rid of this discomfort and dissatisfaction.
When we don’t connect with ourselves, it’s harder to connect with the outer world. Because of fear, we don’t want to be genuine, authentic, vulnerable and we prefer to change our external conditions instead of assessing our distorted perception. This a paradox: we want to change ourselves externally in order to fit in. By doing this, we are not changing anything, we are trying to force a superficial adaptation.
We live in a tough society that applies a filter to everything we perceive, including ourselves. It’s a little bit like when we put an Instagram filter on a photo because it doesn’t look good enough the way it is.
It takes courage and guts to start scratching this social veneer and look at things as they are. It takes another courageous step to try and love ourselves. We can fear that we won’t like what’s hiding behind the shiny layer, especially when it applies to us personally. It’s only when we get rid of it that we realize this layer is not so shiny eventually. That this is what prevented us from shining truly.
I found that the strongest way to pass through the filter is to acknowledge our real intentions.
- Why do we want a change?
- Why do we think we should be a better person?
- What does it mean to be good or better? Better than what or whom?
We want to lose weight because we think we will be loved. We work harder to impress our colleagues. We want to be perfect mothers to gain respect in our community. We want to change and be better because we want to belong.
I’m not saying these are wrong reasons, they just need to be acknowledged for what they are and be released. Ultimately it’s easier to do good when we feel our own goodness. Meanwhile, it is capital for us stand up and face our own darkness. When we can see our greatness and our goodness, we also get the ability to acknowledge our darker sides and let them go.
Real personal growth happens when we let go of the need for change and choose to align our intentions with our interiority and higher core values.
From the outside, this might look like you’re changing. Maybe people will ask you why you’ve changed so much, or how. This calls for patience, you’ll adapt, they will too.
In order fo us to align with our core values, we need to become aware of them. After years of building up emotional walls and piling up disappointments and so-called failures, we sometimes lose sight of what makes us human.
I remember feeling like a robot, being on auto-pilot. Basically in survival mode. The house, the job, the spouse, 2.6 kids and a mortgage. There was barely time left to breathe so how on Earth was I supposed to think about such thing as values, my interiority or what it takes to be a decent human being. Until I burned out, my marriage fell apart and I became everything I despised.
They say you need to hit the ground hard to wake up. I don’t know if that’s always true, but I did hit the ground and this was a turning point. I had to accept the bad and the ugly. But the real shock was to see the good in me and let it surface. A timid coming out, refreshing and challenging at the same time. Letting go of guilt, shame and resentment opened my inner space and allowed me to examine my interiority but more importantly, decide what my core values were.
A liberating act of self-forgiveness and resilience. Don’t wait until you hit the ground to experience it.
The most important and meaningful change you can make is to start being fully yourself. After all, this may be the only thing you haven’t tried yet.
Tell me, do you find it hard to be truly yourself? What do you find to be the most difficult about living authentically? Let me know in the comments and I'll reply to you personally.
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