Why do so few of us realize that life is meant to be simple? We come equipped with a nature, talents and gifts. We just have to grow up and use them. Therein lies the problem; in the process of ‘growing up’ we take on so much of other people’s ‘stuff’, added on layer by layer, we lose sight of who we are.
Our true self is passionate and joyful. The one with the layers added, not so much.
Imagine the joy in turning up to a workplace, or being in a relationship, where people (including you) are in tune with themselves? To be who you are , your own true nature, how do you strip away the ‘nurture’ and why? Is that not part of who we are?
Well, no. It’s part of the armory, or ‘layers’, we’ve developed in order to get through, get along, to even exist; beliefs we’ve adopted about ourselves. When I was heading into higher education, my mathematics teacher told me it would be a loss if I didn’t take the subject. Not wanting to let him down, I took his advice and adopted a ‘I obviously have talent for math’ layer. Bad decision.
Two years into uni, on a summer break, I was working nights in a bar on a holiday island off the coast of Spain. Instead of spending my days at the beach, I was studying for the second and final resit of the math exam; and spending all the money I’d earned on a flight home to take it. Pass, or leave uni.
I learned enough that summer to both pass the exam and finally drop the subject. Unfortunately though, because I’d initially been guided by my ‘talent for math’ belief I was, by then, locked into a Bachelor of Science degree. Sadly the only subjects I had taken in that first couple of years that I was actually interested in, and had sailed through, were in the Arts faculty (psychology and management studies).
Luckily I then decided to go on and take a postgraduate diploma in Human Resources, much more my kind thing.
If only I hadn’t minded momentarily hurting the feelings of my math teacher at the outset though. Yes, I finally learned at uni math wasn’t for me, but I then held the misguided notion that was because it involved letters (as an aside, whoever put letters and algorithms into math was surely sadistic). But the ‘I have a talent for math’ layer was strong and I held on to the idea that I was good at numbers…
Finally after years of doing accounts at home and in business, and budgets at work, I recognized that the knots in my tummy, the items I wanted to hurl across the room, the people I’d been terse with, the headaches I’d borne and the imaginary screaming in my head were all fairly good indicators that I actually don’t like numbers.
That was in my late 30’s. When you’ve been stuck in a layer and you finally shed it, you wonder why on earth it took you so long to realize it. The relief is amazing.
To strip off the layers there’s a hard way and an easy way. The hard way is Groundhog Day – another job, another project, another relationship, another friendship, playing out the same old scenarios. When you’re in those spirals it’s hard to even distinguish what the issue is, you just know you’re not happy. It’s the proverbial not being able to see the wood from the trees. Often it’s easier to blame the scenario or another person than to figure out what, within you, is not a match.
There are easier ways – with a deliberate shift to the plural here. They all start with a desire to be happier, and a decision that you will put in the focus required to make that happen. Let’s talk more about that next time.
This world doesn’t need the stressed out, unhappy, grumpy version of you, it needs the one who feels good about who they are and what they do, so who are you – truly?
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
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