"Yeah, of course, I'd be annoyed, but I wouldn't say anything!"
"I've never liked parties, but I feel like I should at least go and show my face."
"I handed him the finished report and he said 'that's twice this week I've had to correct some things in your work. I didn't say anything, but I felt flat and upset and wanted to punch him in the face."
"So I went and brought a navy blazer - even though I don't suit navy and hate dressing formally, because I'm a manager now, and managers wear suits don't they?"
These are the kinds of things I've heard my clients say in the past month, all to do with the hustle and struggle that is trying to manage the perception that others have of us, based on the way we'd like to be seen, versus who we actually are.
We humans are incredible. We are miracles in human form. There is only one of each of us, with our way of experiencing the world. And don't get me started on the amount of amazing things our bodies can do. (Did you know that it's not possible to tickle ourselves? We have brains that will NOT BE FOOLED!)
And we often ignore all of that and put a load of energy into trying to be something different, something better, something comparable to someone else's standards.
What's that all about?
Have a go at this little exercise: ask yourself the following questions.
- Do I love everything in my wardrobe?
- In the past week, have I said anything that wasn't true, or that I didn't fully believe, in an attempt to try and control someone else's opinion of me?
- Do I say 'I should do, really', a lot?
- In the next week, have I got anything in my calendar that I am going to, where my heart's not really in it?
- Do you keep doing something that makes you feel drained?
- Do you hope people don't guess that you haven't got a clue what you're doing half the time?
- Do some people just seem to leave you feeling intimidated?
If you've said yes to more than one of these, it's likely there is a gap between how you actually feel inside and how you want others to see you. It's not just you - it's part of the built-in mechanism for having us stay 'part of the tribe' and belonging.
[As I'm typing this I just heard on the radio the news about North Korea and it's missile testing: the report that 'they don't want to be seen as negotiable with, they want to be seen as 'world leaders'. Even whole countries are doing identity-management.]
But here's the thing. You don't need to me to tell you it's EXHAUSTING to manage the daily hustle for feeling good enough, ready enough, competent enough, smart enough, and before we know it we've built a life and work around an identity that doesn't really feel like us.
The good news is, who you actually are, with your gifts, and strengths, and what matters most, and your preferences, is all right there, waiting for you to stop, breathe, and notice what feels best.
It's a bit like the 'hotter/colder game' - start noticing what feels better, like relief, like resonance, like the tiny flickers of excitement. They might be tiny at first, especially if you've been ignoring them for a while. And it's much easier to respond from that place - when you are being fully present and clear about who you are and what matters most to you.
Let go of that old identity that isn't who you are these days and put the real you in charge more often. Double-dare ya. Let us know what happens, will you?
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