Tag Archives: authenticity

Monday’s Meditation: On Fitting In Vs. Changing The World

Monday, March 20, 2017

 

We are not here to fit in, we are here to be our authentic selves.

I watched a snippet of an interview of Oprah Winfrey over the weekend, in which Oprah was recounting how she got her start on television.

At one of her first positions,  her news director at the time had evidently said, “We’re going to have to do something about that name, ’cause nobodies going to remember it or know how to pronounce it.”

Oprah had always yearned for a more normal name, a name like “Suzy,” which is what her bosses proposed. “Suzy is friendly,” they had said. “Suzy Winfrey, eyewitness news.” 

Yet when her superiors advised her to change it, the mogul decided she would, in fact, keep her name, which a global audience has had no trouble remembering, or knowing how to pronounce. 

In fact, the singularity of her name is what undoubtedly made it into a household one. She is among the select few in our society who needs no last name as a means of identification. “Winfrey” might as well be left off, or not exist at all.

__

On Shark Tank, hopeful entrepreneurs pitch their companies to the would-be investors. I am continually frustrated by the hesitation on the part of the sharks to sign on with a company that’s attempting to truly innovate. 

“You’re trying to create a whole new category,” they’ll say. “That requires a lot of work, and I just don’t think I want to do that.” 

Or: “This really involves a lot of consumer education, and I just don’t think I can get involved in that.” 

One by one, they go out.

Everyone wants a sure thing, and different, novel, and new is almost never that.

Being the same almost always seems to be easier. Most of us don’t set out to ruffle feathers or raise eyebrows. Most of us want to do important work–the work we’ve been sent here to contribute–not fight the battle of normalizing ourselves or our contribution before our work can be received. 

As a society we have just barely begun to open to the concept of celebrating our differences. Marketers, in particular, still seem intent on dumbing down their content, and on catering to the mainstream. They still seem to believe that people have neither the capacity nor the tolerance to encounter something different.

And yet, we should all know better by now. We should know by now that it is the truly original individuals and companies that manage to shake the world. We should know all it takes is to demonstrate your intentions and your authenticity in order to earn your place in people’s hearts and psyches. 

“Suppose your name had just been Mary or Jane,” the interviewer said. “It wouldn’t have worked,” Oprah replied. 

Monday’s Meditation: On Safeguarding Your Wellbeing

Monday, March 13, 2017

Anyone who has experienced a moment of crisis knows that those colossal events have the power to bring everything to a crashing halt, demanding all of your attention and energy. During crises, you run on adrenaline, you are consumed by the chaos, you are aware of the massive outflow of energy a situation requires of you.

Somewhere in the chaos, you know, too, that this moment will pass. You understand that the joys in your life thus far have accumulated to sustain you through the times when everything goes to shit.

Low-grade energy-sucks are a horse of a different color. They aren’t isolated, like crises. They aren’t as obvious, either. But make no mistake about it: situations and individuals that steal your vital energy–with less severity in the moment but continuously over time–are ultimately more damaging to our psyches.

It’s the person you interact with just occasionally who for whatever reason rubs you the wrong way who depletes you.

How many days afterwards do you spend ruminating over your interaction with them? How much mental energy do you spend rehashing issues, re-running conversations in your head? How much energy are you truly losing? 

It’s the items or collection of items loitering in basement cupboards that really get to you–the ones you aren’t dealing with, but know you someday will have to.

How many hours have you already spent thinking about that? About what it will entail? How many arguments between you and your spouse have already come as a result of it? 

It’s the job you’ve loyally showed up at for years that yes, sure, grants you a paycheck, but at the price of sucking your joy.

How many days have you gone home and felt completely unseen? How many times have you felt frustrated at yourself for not demanding something more?

On a daily basis, these things that you’re “dealing with,” “putting up with,” “avoiding,” or “settling for” may seem like low-grade nuisances. They might feel like a needle prick at the back of your neck. Sure, it makes you wince a little, but really, what’s a needle prick?

But over time, that tender place on your neck starts to become sorer and sorer, and that needle starts to feel damn-near daggerly. Eventually, you become trained to link the pain with the person and or situation. You go to work, and before anything has even happened, a stinging sensation begins to creep its way up your back. You walk down the basement stairs and the back of your head starts buzzing with anxiety. 

People go years–their whole lives–with a needle that’s grown to feel increasingly bigger and longer deeply wedged in their necks. Until they forget they’re in pain. Until they no longer remember what it was like before they were debilitated.

But you wont, will you? 

You, who are intent on waking yourself up, on seeing the truth, you won’t wait that long. You will start to have less and less of a tolerance for circumstances that make you wince, and that drain you more than they fulfill you. You will begin to see that protecting your earnest life energy is not merely your prerogative but your responsibility. And you will begin to cut ties, more and more, with the situations and places and people that jeopardize that.

Today’s stress is tomorrow’s disease. What seeps the energy you might have otherwise put forth to show up for yourself, to give love to your family and friends and clients, and therefore to heal the whole world, must be considered the highest affront to your wellbeing. 

Sources in your life that cause you unnecessary strife, anxiety, and discontent distract you from thinking about more important things. They obstruct your ability to enter an imaginative mental space, and keep you limited, instead, in a fight-or-flight loop in which you cannot progress, see beyond, or grow. That’s no way to live. 

If there’s a person in your life who takes without giving in return, allow yourself to evolve past them. 

If there’s clutter in your basement, face the big scary.  

If your job is joyless, make it your mission to figure out what career will fulfill you. 

You can recover from a crisis. But seemingly benign sources of grievance and frustration will continue to drain your spirit at an exponential rate, while continuing to trick you into thinking “everything’s fine.” 

And you are worthy of much, much more than that. 

Monday’s Meditation: On Living In Fear Of Judgment

Monday, November 9, 2015

Reminder: I have the ability to choose for myself, to live the life that feels best to me, and to free myself from the fear of what others will think of me for doing so.

Judgement; we all do it, we all hate the feeling of it being done to us. We hate the realization we’re doing it to others.

For such free-willed, fortunate people, we spend so much of our life worrying about what others will think of our choices.

This can be true to crippling extents–there are so many people who feel as though they have to purposefully conceal their true purpose and their true selves for fear of what others will think.

More basic than that: there are hoards of us who aren’t decorating our homes the way we really want to, spending Sunday afternoons how we’d really like to, dating who we’re attracted to; who aren’t taking risks.

We are people who are either choosing safely, so as to not differentiate ourselves, or who, fearing differentiation, find ourselves stuck, unable to move forward. Paralyzed by the possibility that others will notice our life choices and then draw conclusions about who we are based off of those decisions.

And then the bad thing will happen, the thing we want to avoid more than anything else.

What bad thing again?

Well, people might not like us.

They might see our decisions as not aligning with theirs, they might view us as different from them, or materialistic, or unrealistic, or stupid, or woo-woo or selfish or overly selfless or fill in the blank with any thing a person can reasonably be seen to be.

And then the even worse thing will happen.

What’s that worse thing again?

The people who think bad things about us might tell other people the bad things, and then even more people wouldn’t like us.

Is there a way to avoid this happening?

Yes; do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

Are there any choices or courses of action not susceptible to judgement?

Nope.

So the decisions we make throughout our entire lives–the ones we believe are keeping us on our paths to being our best selves, which in turn allows us to give most effectively of our gifts to others–are inevitably going to be judged by others, no matter which way we choose, which means that there is no way we can choose right and thereby keep open the possibility of relationship with, and favorable standing in the minds of, all people?

Yup.

Our greatest collective desire is to be seen and heard, yet our greatest fear is what others are seeing and hearing. It’s the ultimate human paradox, if you ask me.

The thing of it is, there is no way we can control others’ perception of us, really. Their perception of us isn’t about us, after all, it’s about them. It doesn’t matter how conscious you are about conveying yourself to the world, you being you is going to win you friends and not win you friends. This is Simply the truth of the matter.

But far from being the biggest bummer we have to swallow, this is, in fact, the greatest gift of all: you being you naturally attracts and repels various people and situations. Any such entities that aren’t right for you or that aren’t kindred spirits self-eliminate from your world.

The fact that there are less options is not a bad thing. It means you have less to sift through in order to find those people and situations that are right for you, that feel you being you is a wonderful thing, that want to applaud and employ your choices.

It means you’ll have to waste less of your precious life clock on people or things that think you aren’t important or well-intentioned or innovative. You will not have lost your universal good standing, but gained the opportunity to locate those people who understand you.

Judgement persists. Though the teachers all implore against it; though we ourselves wish we would all rise above (below?) it.

Freedom lies in the answer to the question: who am I going to live for?

Choose with purpose. Live with purpose. Choose with a soundness, not so that you might avoid judgment or better defend your choices, but so that you might relinquish the need to.

Oh, and a little tip: the best remedy for fearing being judged is to work on judging others less–the two streams of thought are more like one, turns out, which we can make efforts to tune out more and more each day.