Do you take it personally when someone criticises something you like or a habit you have? It’s hard not to, isn’t it.
Do you find yourself trying to conform to society’s expectations regarding what you wear, what you eat, what you listen to, read, etc.? Many of us love to celebrate how unique we are and how we don’t conform but sometimes the ways in which we conform are so insidious and so hidden that we’re not even aware we’re doing it. We may stand for individuality and loving our bodies as they are but then still feel the need to follow some calorie restricted diet or exercise program to get the perfect abs, or sculpt our butt or whatever. I’m not knocking wanting to look good or taking care of yourself in whatever way you think is appropriate, I’m talking about the unconscious desire to conform to whatever stereotype of society prevails at any given moment. If a tiny waist and a larger butt is in fashion but you’re not built that way, do you try to conform by punishing yourself into that type of shape or do you make the best of the shape you have, regardless of what’s in fashion? Do you wear the clothing that you love and feel great in, or compromise your preference and comfort in order to wear what’s fashionable? Again, I’m not knocking being a follower of fashion as long as what you’re wearing is your choice, aligned with what matters most to you.
Humans are social creatures. We evolved to live in tribes for safety, security as well as connection. One of the biggest risk factors for ill health in the western world is loneliness – a sense of being disconnected from others and experiencing social isolation. Being isolated feels horrible and can make us sick so it’s no surprise that we want to fit in – to be connected to others. The problem is that changing who we are in order to fit in results in a disconnection from ourselves. When we’re disconnected from ourselves, it decreases our ability to connect to others. We often compromise what matters most for us in order to make others happy because subconsciously we believe that will get us accepted. The irony is, that when you are being true to yourself, you have an energy about you that others are naturally drawn to. When you compromise who you are, this attractive power diminishes. The only way to be true to who you are is to get clear where you’re currently ‘lying’ to yourself, unconsciously. (This isn’t deliberate okay? You’ve been programmed to please authority figures such as your parents, your teachers and your religious leaders by sticking to their rules for most of your life!)
Your habits demonstrate what matters most to you. The things towards which you prioritise time, energy and resources. What you spend your money on, what you do daily, what inspires and energises you, where you’re most reliable and disciplined, what you love to talk about, what takes up most of your time in a day. Dr. John Demartini calls these things your values and says that we each have a hierarchy of what’s most important to what’s least important. If you’d like to determine what your values are you can visit his website where you can download a free questionnaire that can help you.
I love helping people determine what their values are because it gives us a starting point from which to work and provides a framework for goal setting as well as making new habits stick. Many of us think we know ourselves well but remember, ‘The mind always lies, the body never does. That’s why God put the clues in the body.” Dr John Demartini. In this instance the body is the part of you that carries out your habits. It’s the part of you that takes action. Your mind may tell you one thing but your habits may say something completely different. Many of us have areas of tension within our personalities. Seemingly opposite qualities that leave us struggling to understand why we behave the way we do. From a young age, we learn what parts of our personality gets us accepted (which we equate with love) and which parts gets us rejected. We then try to cover up or hide the parts that are not ‘acceptable’. But our uniqueness depends on all of our parts, the seemingly good and the seemingly bad.
Our light can only shine to the extent that we integrate our ‘darkness’. We need the seemingly negative traits in order to have the seemingly positive ones. If you were the only human on earth, you wouldn’t think that any parts of you were ‘good’ or ‘bad’. They’d just be. It’s only when we judge ourselves through a filter of what we’ve been taught is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ that we start identifying with the ‘good’ parts and trying to suppress the ‘bad’ parts. We all have a guiding inner voice. That part of us that is wise and limitless. That guiding inner voice is constantly prompting us to integrate all our parts, release our judgment of ourselves, connect with and love everything about ourselves and in so doing, live the life that’s just right for us – congruent with who we are and free to be our unique selves.
So celebrate your sameness to all other humans and celebrate your uniqueness too. Listen to your inner voice. Question whether the goals you are setting are to seek validation from others or because you’re inspired to pursue them for yourself. Be like your own GPS, constantly guiding and course correcting so that you can live in alignment with who you really are and not with who others want you to be.
When your inner voice becomes louder than the clamour of all the external voices telling you what you ‘should’ be doing, then you have begun to master your life.
Author - Loretta Ferrucci