Spud was jumping for a play with his guardian. His ears pricked, tail wagging and tongue lolling. His older brother (from a different mother stepped up) and stood imposing in front of him. Spud immediately cowered, whimpered and rolled on his back, submissive. The family cat walked past and immediately, Spud leapt to his feet, got into prayer position and growled at the cat. The mailbox flap snapped as the postman inserted today’s mail through the door. Spud spun around, raced to the door and started barking loudly.
Tired from all the activity, switching of modes and changing of moods from joy to submission to dominance and importance, Spud walked straight past his guardian, brushed past his older brother, ignored the cat, aimed for the familiar comfort of his bed and laid down, playing with his favourite bunny in there. “Being different things for different scenarios can be tiring”, he thought, “I just wanna be me!”
In your life, how much of yourself are you being every day? When you are with others, are you truly yourself? It can be tiring to be someone you are not. Do you put on a mask when you are with your partner? Do you dress (literally and figuratively) to impress at work for your boss? Do you strive hard to pretend you are the leader your employees need? Do you don a cloak of responsibility, know-all and infallibility when you are being a parent to your children (literally or figuratively)? It can feel so important to get it right and not make a mistake in fear of the consequence that you may become an insensitive partner, a poor worker, a wannabe leader and (god forbid) an incompetent parent. No one likes to feel they are not as good as they perceive themselves to be. No one likes to fail.
When you try to be many things for many people, you have many pains. You are living up to their expectations and you are at the mercy of their standards and moods. The funny thing is all these ‘expectations’ and ‘standards’ are completely perceived by you. They are all imposed on yourself by yourself. You are projecting your own fears and limits to yourself. It may look like they are coming from the outside when in reality, it is expressed from the inside out.
Can you remember the time when you are truly yourself? Maybe it is when you were doing something that got you totally engaged and time just flew past. Perhaps it was when you expressed yourself and stood up for what you believed was right. Or when you were true to your desires, worked towards your goal and achieved success. In those times, you felt at ease, beautiful and empowered. Sure, the hard work, bravery and focus may have required (immense) effort, however being yourself was effortless. It is when you are truly a human ‘being’, not a human ‘doing’. It is easy to feel that you must be ‘doing’ something to be useful, and ‘being’ is not enough. That is not exactly true.
Coming back to the previous examples of being a partner, employee, boss or parent, this is not referring to not putting in effort and getting the results you desire. Not at all. This is simply asking the question of ‘Is being this (insert role here) the person I want to be or is this what someone else wants me to be?’ The results could be the same ie a sensitive partner, an industrious worker, an impactful leader and a wonderful parent but the approach is of paramount importance. There is a huge difference between being someone you choose to be or being someone to please another or living up to their expectations or standards. When you put in the effort to improve, you are doing it for yourself and not others.
It is worth repeating that when you try to be many things for many people, you have many pains whereas being yourself is effortless. This is not referring to being lazy and just slumping on the couch watching Netflix over a glass of wine. If that is the way you relax and unwind, sure, do it, you deserve your rest! When you choose to improve yourself to become better, you are a step closer to being the better version of yourself. You will still be you but it is just the better version. Effort, energy and focus will have to be invested to make any changes (Remember that what you know that got you here will not get you there) however, being yourself is effortless.
Getting to the space where you can hear yourself and discover what you actually want can be challenging especially with the distraction and noise from the environment. It takes conscious effort and (usually) periods of solitude to be able to enter that space of ‘you’. When you do so, and decide (‘decide’ is from the Latin word that means ‘cut off’) what sort of (insert name of role here) you want to be, what sort of attributes you need to possess and what actions you need to take, you will start your own personal journey to become that. So, for example, if you wanted to be a sensitive partner, you will become a sensitive partner. However, it is because you wanted it, not someone else. You are no longer donning a mask of a ‘sensitive’ partner, you are just being you and that is effortless. If you wanted to be the employee that contributed the most, you will become that employee, but not because your boss demanded it, you were just being yourself and that is effortless. The irony lies in that even if you had to put in plenty of effort for it, it is still effortless for you as you are just being you. It is no longer perceived as ‘effort’.
There may be situations where you feel you do not have a choice but to change. For example, being a parent requires accountability, responsibility and a degree of common sense. It is not a job you can quit, a company you can sell or even a partner that you can leave. Should you be in such an unfortunate position, you may choose to see it as a platform for you to grow. Understand that life happens for you, not to you. From the ashes emerges the phoenix. Step by step, little by little, you can grow. If you choose to embrace your life, all aspects of it, the good and the bad, you will undoubtedly become better at dealing with your life, and you may even enjoy it! In the end, you will look back and see how much you have grown. Yes, there may be blood, sweat and tears along the way but you will also see that it was effortless for you are still standing.
Spud got tired of his many faces and understands the least effort was when he was being himself. What masks do you wear daily? Are they serving you to become the person you want to be or disempowering you leading you away from your true self?
‘To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson