“These are the roles and behaviors that many of us were raised to adopt, even if they don’t reflect who we are deep down inside … a fear of being perceived as weak forces men into pretending they are never afraid, lonely, confused, vulnerable or wrong; and extreme fear of being perceived as cold-hearted, imperfect, high maintenance or difficult forces women to pretend they’re never exhausted, ambitious, pissed off or even hungry.” -Brené Brown
I love this quote by Brené Brown. I do believe, too, that it really only scratches the surface.
The question I’d like to pose is this, are you living a borrowed or leased life? Are you thinking, reacting and making choices based on what you’ve seen others do, what others think and what you might have been raised to believe you are to do, be, have and want?
Or, on the other hand, do you OWN your life choices, non-dependent upon whether or not others agree or find who you are and what you do acceptable?
There is a great book by Rabbi Daniel Lapin called Thou Shall Prosper that discusses the practice of discovering who you are, what you’re made of and then becoming unapologetic about it. I highly recommend reading it.
So, this is what I believe. It’s vitally important that we understand the difference between a Soul choice and one based on a Role we think we are to play.
It is true, we have many roles in life. However, what if we were to strip ourselves of these hats or titles? What would we be then?
If I were to ask the question of myself, “who am I?” and I couldn’t answer
a daughter, sister, wife, mother, coach, friend or even woman, what would I say?
Who are YOU?
Try asking this at a networking meeting. When the person tells you what they do, reply, “I realize that’s your job, I’m curious to know who you are as an individual, unique person?” It’s fun, I promise!
As Eric Greitens writes in his book, Resilience, “To make the world excellent, great and beautiful, we may have to be a little irrational, a bit strange and sometimes odd.”
One of the things I like to suggest when facing the question who am I? is this. Consider what purpose you have in life. Why do you think you were brought here at this time in history to have this particular life experience?
To stimulate this thought process, ask yourself what others have said about you, good and bad, that has surprised you over the years.
For me, I have often been told I think too much and ask too many questions. I have a particular friend who loves to tell me to stop being so hard on myself when I go digging into understanding why I act, think and perceive things a certain way. I have also been told I am very wise and have an extraordinary talent for reading people.
Quite frankly, before I began doing this work, these things both surprised and shamed me. I felt wrong or different and didn’t really understand why and what I was supposed to do about it. I couldn’t really grasp why others had these opinions of me, after all, I was just being me and didn’t really want to think much about why or if that was good or bad.
What I have come to know and honor now is that I am a truth seeker. Self inquiry is my game! I was created to ask a lot of questions, dig for meaning and have the ability to read people because my service to the world is to help others see their inner brilliance and bridge the gap between living a life that doesn’t feel “quite right” to embracing who and what they were created to be.
So, I challenge you to really think about this. What is your ultimate role in life? Your soul role, as it were.
The fact is, we struggle with answering this question because we’ve been conditioned to fit into societal and familial norms. We’ve learned that to name it, categorize it and stick it in a box is to know it. And God help us if we don’t know it! All hell breaks loose when we cannot be certain of things, right?!
We have become all about cerebral knowing, for sure!
But what of instinctive knowing? Heart knowing? Soul knowing?
We have difficulty answering the question, “who am I?” because we’ve been trained to think with our heads and not consider this very important query with our hearts.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is certainly room for head-based thinking, just not, in my humble opinion, when it comes to defining the fundamental question of who we are.
Another of my favorite quotes by Eric Greitens:
“Great changes come when we make small adjustments with great conviction.”
The word that stands out for me is conviction. I believe it’s a powerful word with the potential to shift how we perceive and do things.
Depending on where you look for the meaning, the word “conviction” is defined as few things, one being an article of faith.
Hmm . . . another very powerful word!
So, if you are still having a tough time coming up with surprising things shared by others about you, start with a list of convictions. What are areas in your life where you have deep faith that something is true? This list will begin to give you the building blocks needed to define who you are.
This exercise is a bit tricky, because if you are doing it properly, most of what ends up on that list is not something that can be tested or proven externally. In other words, you will have a hard time finding hard, cold, factual and physical proof that your convictions are indeed true. What you will call on in creating this list is how you feel, what you sense and trust to be real.
For instance, I would say that my mother loves me and as a sign of “proof,” I could show her acts of kindness and words of love over the many years she raised me. In reality, however, that isn’t physical proof at all. What if my mother had been solely acting from a place of obligation? What if she just said she loved me, but really didn’t? The point is, I know my mother loves me, not based on anything I can measure, but based on how I feel, what I sense to be true and what I trust to be real. In other words, because I have faith that she does.
Okay, back to the question, WHO AM I? Hopefully, you can see now that this, too, is not a question we can answer truthfully from a place of conditioned, external information. We must dig into our soul to retrieve our authentic meaning.
Why is this necessary? Well, because we were created to know what service we are here to perform. I mean, think about it, how could you even begin to see to your job duties at work if you didn’t have a job description? If you didn’t know your title and what was expected of you, how would you know what to do? You would end up wandering around the office looking for your place and not feeling like you were really getting much done, being very purposeful or even fitting in.
How many of us are living our lives this way? Not knowing who we truly are or how we are meant to authentically serve? I mean we may be comfortably numb, but are we truly living?
I don’t believe any of us came into this life to play small, but in order to take our rightful place, we need to know what it is.
So, trust me, it’s worth it to take the time to ask these questions. The true meaning of your, unique life depends on it.
And oh, one more thing . . . the world is always waiting for you to bring your special gifts forward.