“You need not remember the details of yesterday, last week, last month, or whose birthday it is. What is essential is that you remember who you really are. That is only possible through your daily, minute-to-minute choices.”
–Emmanuel’s Book II
I just read something so simple, so clear, so profound that I want to share it with you. It’s from page 159-163 from the above-mentioned book. If this blog touches you, then buy the book and read it. It’s unusual, and deeply thought-provoking.
Here’s the gist: as a child we are presented with models, or molds, into which to pour ourselves. We’re taught early on that there are definitions of how to be good, worthy, lovable, respected, valued—all sifted through the opinions of others.
This isn’t a bad thing, it just is.
Now that we’re grown up, though, we have choice. And every day we either use our choice or we don’t. Every day we either say “who shall I be right now?” or we cave in and ask “Shall I be what ___ [mom, dad, sibling, significant other, kids, friends, clients, etc.] wants me to be?” or “Who do I need to be [to be accepted/loved, to fit in/to survive]?” It’s not a simple choice, though, since this choosing is often subconscious and tied to our need to be safe, belong, matter, be loved, or be self-expressed.
So we perform tiny acts of self-crucifixion in order to shape ourselves into who we believe we need to be.
This is a habit. We need to break it.
Many of us hear the whisper to find out who we are. And if we ignore the whisper it eventually becomes a yell, or even an ear-piercing shriek.
Because this is the most important thing you will do in this fleeting lifetime, in these most favorable of all conditions for growth.
Make it a priority.
Get out from behind your electronics and walk in nature, lie on the earth, go sailing, breathe so much fresh air that you feel intoxicated from the purity of it all. Look around until you are blown away by how gorgeous and mysterious this planet is. How fascinating and resilient human beings are. How persistent and tenacious the power of love is.
Then decide who you want to be. Intentionally. Find out what does and doesn’t work for you. Set the healthy boundaries that honor who you are and how you need to live, to be treated, to move through the world of work and family and friends. Remove your disguises—the ones that compromise you, the ones that squish your soul.
Because with making this effort the coolest thing will happen: you’ll rise above the mind’s tyranny. You’ll start asking more interesting questions, such as “Why are we doing this? What’s the struggle about? Do we actually want to go where we’re headed? What’s the cost of achieving this?”
And you’ll actually begin learn who you truly are, to make friends with the remarkable person that is beneath the masks, beneath the expectations of others, beneath the beliefs and self-annihilating stories you bought into… all the while thinking you were doing the right thing.
Then you can help others find out who they are. Then you’ll start to craft a legacy that is authentic, transformative, worth leaving. Then you’ll begin to unravel the tapestry of your current life and re-weave it into a life that is more authentic, a shirt that fits better, a hoodie that is more comfortable.
And that is my greatest wish for you.
Christine Comaford (@comaford) combines neuroscience and business strategy to help CEOs experience profound fulfillment while achieving rapid growth and creating high performance teams. Her current NY Times bestselling book is entitled SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together.