In that same lobby where I met the old couple who embodied unconditional joy in my first Get Happy post, the receptionist asked me if I own a boutique in town. I shook my head and told her, “No. I’m a writer.”
“Oh,” she replied. “You look like you’d own one of those really cute shops.”
I knew she was basing this on my looks, which is fine, and that she likely meant it as a compliment. After all, “looking like a writer” would have a totally different connotation. Believe me, I have writer mode look down to a T.
Upon meeting the dermatologist, he asked if I was an aesthetician. Again, I repeat “what I am” – a writer and brand strategist. I didn’t ask him why he assumed that. (My questions? My obvious love of lipstick? Again, looks?)
In another meeting this week, an owner asked how I describe myself since I’m a novelist, a marketer and even a paid decorator. I told him, “I’m a creative spirit.” Not only did he “get it” but he wanted to work together. I felt free enough to NOT have to define myself in any limited way.
These interactions made me think about the LABELS WE WEAR and how we are perceived by others. In self-identifying with Parent, Occupation, Hobby, Religion, Political Affiliation, Wife and so on, we can become so attached to those labels that we lose ourselves in them. What We Do is NOT Who We Are. Even are ROLES cannot do justice to the magic of our true selves, which is much deeper than the sum of all of those labels added together. We know we are more than our personality types, too, though they help point us in the right direction of understanding. (I’m ENTJ who really wishes she wanted to sit in the back of the room and doodle instead of wanting to be the person on the stage giving the presentation, but I can’t seem to help myself. I’ve worked on going from Type A to Zen with some success.)
We are so many multi-faceted things which is what makes humans and our soul journeys such a glorious mystery. Our culture likes to pigeon-hole us, to know which shelf to stack us on. We try to make sense of others by using these labels, but that can be confining, not only in how we relate to others :: oh you’re ONLY this :: but also that we begin to believe :: I AM ONLY :: and may stop trying to BE something else or what we truly FEEL we are inside. DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR WHO YOU ARE.
In trying to “return to wild” we are trying to honor not only our true purpose for being here in this life so beyond truly knowing ourselves and awakening. We discussed vulnerability and shame and passion last week with some tips from Brene Brown on Daring Greatly. This week I’d like to share some insight from Dr. Susan Campbell in her book, Getting Real: 10 Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life. The book was synchronicity. I was in Hawaii on vacation with my family when I discovered the book in a used bookstore in Maui. I read it almost to entirety on my trip and highlighted the hell out of it.
Here are some of those highlights which can help us to “unmask” and start living and interacting authentically from the book.
- You engage with others in what I call a social meditation practice in which you support one another in unhooking from your self-image and your ideas about being “better” and risk being seen just as you are. The result in self-realization – making real the parts of you that you thought you had to hide to survive.
- Shoulds prevent us from seeing how our life really is – and from taking appropriate action. Shoulds are pretenses.
- Shoulds keep you from owning your power to create the life you want. They keep you in denial about your actual feelings and situation.
- Asserting what you want affirms your right to want what you want – even if you imagine it’s an unreasonable demand or that there’s little chance of getting it.
- On sharing mixed emotions – when you are ambivalent, confused or “of two minds”, go ahead and express this fact. You may be pulled equally in two or more directions. The ability to express complex feelings is important. Most self-aware people experience mixed feelings fairly often.
- Experiencing what is means allowing yourself to feel what you feel without inhibiting yourself shutting down.
- Allow yourself to feel it and notice whatever shows up next in your awareness. Experiencing what is requires that you be willing to step into the unknown. You cannot control where your experiencing will take you.
- Notice your intent – is it to relate or to control?
- Projections are useful because we often need to get our buttons pushed so we can notice what they are.
- Holding your differences with another person can produce an inner expansion or transformation that enables them to experience a deeper level of what’s real for each of them.
- As you grow in your capacity to experience what is, you stop trying to manipulate reality to conform to your comfort zone.
Questions to ask ourselves:
Do you feel safe enough to express yourself authentically – in conversation, dress, and behavior?
Do you have “shoulds” you need to let go of?
When something isn’t working, are you brave enough to confront it and change it? Are you willing to break out of your comfort zone to live authentically?
Are labels keeping you “boxed in” when you want to “break out?” Which ones?
I don’t believe labels have to be self-limiting as long as we don’t self-identify too much with them. As I’ve let go of some of my attachments to these labels and “shoulds” I have found more peace and happiness, but it’s not easy. It’s tough to watch my kids grow up and not need me in the same way, but I remind myself, they still need me. Even if they seem like they are pulling away, I still need to stay present and find ways to interact with them without trying to control them. In my work life, I decided I needed to work with people again, for someone, which was a huge decision and will be a big transition since I’ve worked for myself for eight years. I believe I self-identified with entrepreneur and became too attached to the freedom to perhaps the detriment of my own fulfillment and need to be social and part of something bigger than myself as a solo entrepreneur with so many interests. It’s scary but yet liberating at the same time. Even my novel writing has taken a pleasant departure as I’m working on a novel that completely challenges me in every way, a non-fiction book that delves into spirituality and living our truth, and even a very divergent book that’s titillating and sensual. How’s that for a tease?
Next week I’m devoting my post to the amazing Sam Keen and talking about love and the man’s journey. I’m reading three of his books simultaneously and have a huge crush on his wisdom. I do believe so much in life is kismet :: this summer I found ee cummings poetry and fell in love with it. When I visited Sam’s website, it begins with this ee cummings quote:
Here’s to asking beautiful questions.
Much love and xoxo,