It's all about me
I have been on a personal growth journey since… always. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t long to know who I am, really. In the early days, this meant defining myself in comparison to others – Coke or Pepsi, Nike or Adidas, ‘nice’ girl or ‘mean’ girl….I can remember buying those tightly-wrapped, little, rolled horoscopes from the drugstore or looking up my sign in the newspaper – to read about me, understand my motivations, and learn what I was going to get up to next. “I’m an Aries, so that’s just how I roll,” made sense to my pre-teen brain.
It was many years later that I learned about the fixed mindset. This explains so much about why I clung to these labels to help me to understand me, never imagining I could decide who I wanted to be in any given moment, or that I could learn and grow and change and evolve. As a full-on teenager, I pooh-poohed homework or training because who I was naturally dictated everything. If you had to work at it, it didn’t count. “You can’t change me!”
The way I showed up in the world was by proving to everyone who I was by doing – sports, jobs, grades – tell me to jump, and I would ask how high. I could prove that I was worthy by saying yes to what others wanted, then trying to live up to their expectations. And if I ever felt I couldn’t meet them, I could choose to check out anytime.
Yet around the age of 40, when I had supposedly figured out who I was – nailed my career, found my home, met my husband, and had a kid — I still felt I wasn’t finding the meaning in my life that I yearned for. Who was I really when I peeled back all of those labels?
I always wished I had a mentor, someone who would tell me what avenue to choose next, give me great advice and basically do away with the endless spiralling. (Of course, I dismissed any advice that did come my way. They didn’t know the ‘real’ me!)
That was when I learned about coaching and discovered that I could actually work with someone to tap into my own wisdom! Since then, I’ve been on a journey to truly get to know myself and discover who I am, how I self-sabotage and how I hurt myself and others without even realizing it.
Through my work with some great coaches and my own learning and training, I have learned a lot about myself and my personality. Now, what I’m most interested in is identifying and noticing all of the coping strategies I have employed to get me where I am today. That’s all my personality is – a set of ways in which I’ve sought to continue to feel that I am okay.
Through coaching, self-development and awareness, I've learned that I CAN change, and I'm discovering some big changes that are still settling in.
For example, I’m changing the way I think about responsibility. Almost without fail, when I feel hurt or frustrated by something that happens to me, I realize a bit later that I'm tricking myself into thinking I don't play a role or have any responsibility for my reactions. The tricky bit is, while I'm working to take responsibility for my impact in all areas of my life, I'm also attempting to unlearn the concept that I'm responsible for other people's happiness.
I am finally seeing some progress in not taking responsibility for other people’s shit. If I am being in integrity and approaching others with kindness and compassion, I am not responsible for their happiness and well-being. That is theirs to manage – they have their own strategies for operating in this world. Everyone is on their own journey. Everyone is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole.
This realization has been a huge source of peace and release for me. I remind myself that I do not need to fix anything for myself or others. When I have an interaction with someone that doesn’t go perfectly, I ask myself what is mine? It’s truly amazing to me how often nothing is. I’m used to taking responsibility for a lot, over-apologizing, and trying to fix things that are none of my business. I have learned that I can remain calm and centered and resist the urge to make someone else feel better when it comes at the cost of my own integrity and well-being. It’s amazing how little needs to be ‘done’ when you are truly ‘being’ you.
Another one of the stickier strategies I’m working on is to let go of worrying. This one is huge. All of that anticipation is directly connected to how I cope in the world. If I can anticipate what’s next or, better yet, do something to change the outcome, I am on it. This is still very much a work in progress, but I realize that instead of sucking and wasting energy with worrying, I can send positive, healing energy to any person or situation that’s out of my control.
These lessons, and many others, have allowed me to feel whole, to forgive myself when I make mistakes, and to keep recovering to my true self more often and for longer periods of time. I’ve given up on the shame spirals I used to experience at being found out for not being the person someone else wants me to be.
I am still learning to be me – to be honest about what I’m good at and can deliver on. To be happy to pass work on to others who would do a much better job than me on a particular project and to know that it’s all going to be okay. I don’t have to grasp or cling or take whatever comes out of fear of not having enough. I am okay. I have great gifts that I can use to help others. I can have a positive impact in the world just by being me and finding those who want my support. And I can be responsible for any impact, clean up any messes and communicate clearly, unafraid to have hard conversations.
Communicating how I really feel with kindness and honesty, without having to hide my feelings out of fear of hurting others… that’s still big work. I am working at showing the real me in every interaction, unapologetically, because it will help build authentic connections and relationships built on trust.
I am nowhere near perfect. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. I continue to work with my coach to keep uncovering the new ways I am letting myself down, to celebrate where I have grown and made great strides, and to keep learning. This is not to attach more to ‘me’, but so I can let go of my personality and coping strategies, more and more, every day.
“Letting go of yourself is the simplest way to get closer to others.” - Michael A. Singer
We aren’t separate from the world, or better than it, we are a small part of one big universe. That’s why this work is so important: so I can be more connected to the universe and all living beings. I believe when we let go of our ego and realize our connectedness to the whole – when we realize that we are all one – that’s when healing can happen, in how we treat one another, how we treat other species, and how we treat our planet. We are all one. That’s what I’m really working towards here. You are another me.