It’s obvious, we are each unique, individual beings. No two people behave, think or look exactly the same. Twins or other multiple birth siblings may come close to being identical, but even among those siblings there are differing opinions and behaviours. We all know this, yet many of us strive very hard to be like everyone else. We forsake our uniqueness and try to change ourselves to fit into other’s ideas of how we should show up in the world. Maybe this has worked for some people, but for most people, it leads to feeling out of place and uncomfortable in our own skin.
For as long as I can remember, people have described me as soft spoken, quiet or even shy. I never liked those descriptions of me. They certainly didn’t seem to be compliments! Those labels led me to believe my tendencies to be quiet, calm and gentle were negative aspects of myself. In our society, the people who are most recognized and celebrated, seem to be those who are talkative, opinionated and entertaining. We live in a fast paced, noisy world. It’s not easy to get recognition if you are not by nature, a fast moving, talkative person.
Over the years, many of my friends tried to “draw me out of my shell” by attempting to get me to be more talkative. I know their intentions were good, but the results were that their efforts left me feeling demeaned and criticized. Internally, I beat myself up for not being more like them and I tried to force myself to change. It was torture and it left me feeling even more convinced that I was not enough.
Fortunately, I came to the realization that my tendencies to be more introverted than extroverted and quiet instead of talkative, calm instead of frantic have some great benefits! I am a very good listener which is the tool I need most to be an effective coach and an empathetic friend. As a person who tends to be cautious about the words I speak, I am more likely to take the time to look for a kind, gentle way to respond to others. I tend to be calm under pressure and slow to anger which helps reduce stress in my life. I have been told by many of my clients, that my voice is soothing and helps them to relax and feel better. Instead of beating myself up for what I am not, I now celebrate who I am. That simple shift in perspective helps me to be happier and more confident.
It is healthy to want to be the best we can be and this becomes possible when we embrace who we are at the core of our being. Think of yourself as a ruby. No matter how hard you polish yourself or change your shape, you are still a ruby. If you are a ruby, you cannot become a sapphire or an emerald no matter how hard you “work at it”. It is exactly the same way with personality types. We cannot be anyone other than who we are in this moment. That does not mean we cannot become more extroverted if we are introverted or that we cannot learn to listen more and talk less. It means that if we decide to make changes in how we behave in the world and when that desire comes from a place of total acceptance of who we are right now, we can evolve at our own natural pace with less stress.
Here are a few questions to ponder… In what area of your life are you trying to be something you are not or hiding who you really are to get approval from those around you? Are you beating yourself up because you feel you are not enough in some area of life? How would your life change if you believed you were enough? What would you stop doing? What would you begin to do?
Take some time to contemplate those questions, but whatever your answers are, start by celebrating who you are at this moment, because you are enough.Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside. ~ Hugh MacLeod