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“You have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”― Louise L. Hay
Recently I took an online quiz that identified me as a “rebel”. This was defined as someone who refuses to work with any expectations from others and even from themselves. While I was pretty sure before I took the quiz that it would say that, knowing that I was part of a group of other rebels was hugely comforting to me. As someone who has always had a problem with authority figures I always saw that as a flaw in my character. For some reasons, reading about “rebel” characteristics finally made me realize they are something to be embraced. In fact, I think my rebel qualities are the best thing about me. But that wasn’t always the case.
For years I felt like I was the unruly student in the corporate classroom. I didn’t want to follow the processes and procedures that everyone was buying into. All the rules, the political maneuvering, the bullshit. I felt like it was literally crushing my soul. And deep down, I always thought something was wrong with me. Everyone else seemed to be fine going with the flow. People would agree it was annoying and they didn’t generally agree with things but they did them anyway. Why couldn’t I do that?
Most people I know have one quality they really dislike about themselves and want to change. Many of us have more than one! Maybe a parent pointed it out to us when we were young or it’s something that friends always joke about. It’s that one thing we wish we could change. I wish I could be more positive, I wish i didn’t talk so much, I wish I had more patience, I wish I wasn’t so lazy.
We all criticize ourselves. Many of us also try to change our behaviors to make other people happy. Sometimes we are trying to be more compassionate or more appreciative, maybe we are just trying to fit in at work or with family. But what if we OVER accommodate. What if that ONE thing you are trying to change is the best thing about you. What if that ONE thing is what makes you “YOU”. What happens then?
How many times have you changed your own personality to try to fit in with friends or at work? And what are you gaining from that? Do we really want to work or live in a place where everyone is the same and everyone agrees on everything? Our diversity and our differences are what makes the world such an interesting place. When we stop being ourselves and start living our lives according to other people’s standards of what is “right” or “acceptable” we become a flock of sheep following each other.
I did this for years at work at a corporate job and didn’t even realize it. It was a slow progression but after two kids, working full time and commuting I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. So even though I knew something was wrong and I was unhappy, I had no idea how to change it. I honestly couldn’t even remember what gave me joy in life. And in the two or three spare hours i had each week in between working, watching my kids and eating granola for dinner I didn’t exactly have time to start a new hobby. I just took at nap 99% of the time.
But the thing about losing yourself is that you are never really lost. You are never truly disconnected from your passions and the unique qualities that make you who you are. So even if you hide them, they will eventually make themselves known. For me, authenticity has always been a core value in my life. And for me that often translated into telling the truth some people didn’t want to hear. But that was really hard in many of the work environments where I spent my time. And I found that I had to keep telling that voice inside to be quiet. But after a while, I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t keep pretending to be OK with things that I didn’t agree with. Because if I couldn’t be myself, who else was I going to be? A bland, perfectly polite, politically correct, workaholic robot? No thanks.
So I quit trying. I opted out of a system that didn’t support the unique abilities that I possess. Now I choose the clients I work with and they all value that exact quality that no one wanted to hear. In fact, if a potential client asks me what I am about I tell them I am a no bullshit person who gets shit done. Because that is exactly who I am.
The interesting thing about these traits is that our friends and loved ones often seen them in a different light. Maybe the person who wants to more positive is the realist that friends depend on when they need honest advice. Maybe the person who talks so much is sharing a message that a lot of people need to hear. The person who wants more patience is the person who takes action and makes things happen for others. That lazy friend? That’s the one I want to hang out with so I can just relax and not have to worry about anything. That one thing you are hiding could be the best thing about you and it’s what makes you unique. So OWN it. Because every time you do, not only do you make the world a more interesting place but you make make your soul sing with happiness.
“Diversity creates healthy tribes. And a healthy tribe gives your life resiliency.” -Danielle LaPort
So what is it for you? What is that one part of yourself that you hide from other people? Are you too loud, talk too much, are you too sensitive? How do others see that quality? And if you totally removed that quality from your personality, would you still be you? I would love to hear your comments below.