As part of our search and quest in life to be who we really are we encounter many questions about our work and life. At work we struggle to find an identity within the sea of roles, cultural mores and group pressure.
In our personal life we experience growth and change that constantly force us to reevaluate our way of living and who we are in the world in which we orbit.
So with your permission may I be a bit more direct with you in this post? If so then please keep reading.
Let me ask you THE question then
Are you being who you really are in life and work?
Now that you are still here let’s explore further. For many even considering ‘who you really are' is too confrontational. Yet for all people considering who we really are comes up every day. This question arises indirectly in the variety of elements of our day. Such elements may include:
- choices we make
- our external expression of our self
- authenticity and owning of our emotional experience
- depth of relationships
- the work we choose to do
- actions we take.
All these elements and more speak to us of how real we are in our daily life.
Considering how important these elements are in our life and work it is important, actually imperative, that we strive and consciously work on being who we really are in all contexts every day.
So for your own sake and the sake of others getting along in this world let’s look at what it means to be who you really are.
Start outside of ourselves
Counter intuitively it may help to first view the world of others. It is easy and common in our human nature to talk about others. Unfortunately the conversations usually revolve around gossip or criticism.
For this conversation let’s focus on the positive. I suggest it is beneficial to develop the habit of seeing the positive in others and being able to see who others really are. Being able to converse and observe positively will help us do the same with our selves.
Admiring others who get it right
So on that note I declare that I greatly admire people who to me seem to be getting the balance right in regards to who they are. There are many examples of people who appear to live their lives from the inside out, not the outside in. You meet these individuals and just know. You see and realise that inside there is no internal struggle any more. There is a peace of being, a contentment with what is around them and within them.
Whether you like the person or not is not the point. That is a different conversation about what the person does that triggers in you the judgment.
Fully powered people
You also see examples of people stepping into what I call their ‘full power’ as a person. By this I mean they are confident, action oriented, clear, happy, inspiring, open hearted, vulnerable, humble, and impactful. In their wake are often others affected and inspired by their words and actions. These full powered people don’t seem to care what other people think of them. They just get on with what they are here to do and do it. If they make a mistake then they just get back up and try another approach.
So what do you get for being who you really are?
There are unending benefits to being who you really are. For now let's just look at a couple of examples. A major benefit is you develop the ability to adapt with changing times. A person comfortable in their own skin can respond authentically from their own perspective when all the reference points external are changing.
Another payoff is a reduction in stress and stress related challenges in life and work. For many, stress arises because disconnect exists between our thoughts, desires, wants and needs and how we choose to behave and act. In some situations the environment within which we work and / or live further constrains us.
People also see you as being honest and trustworthy which leads to better relationships and deeper more meaningful connections.
Ultimately being who you really are means you have the freedom to be you.
Recognising the real in others...
Still considering the real side of others, how do you recognise real?
What you first see is the first layer
The first impression is always the immediate piece of information you will take in. You will notice what is happening on the outside. You see behaviours, actions, what a person puts out there into the public world. Behaviours and actions are what people do. Behaviours can be conscious choices of action or unconscious habitual responses. As an observer we can presume neither. What we can do is notice consistency of behaviour.
Take for example integrity and a person doing what they say they do. We hear the words yet do the actions match up? So the person makes a promise, do they follow through?
Chameleons in disguise
Sometimes you see the person being who they think they should be so that you like them. I meet many chameleons. Say the right words, manipulate the conversation and ensure that each time that they meet a person they project the image that a person needs to see. As an observer looking at all of these situations I see the inconsistency.
Another example of the chameleon are public versus private flip flops. By this comment I am talking about people who admit privately to you one view, idea or desired action and then publicly state, express or do another. Duplicity with justification or perhaps fear getting in the way. One is not to know without probing and further conversation. Yet a person in such situations is not likely to go to this level in sharing or reflection.
Each of these perspectives presumes a choice in thought but for many behaviours and actions are habitual and subconscious. Sometimes the situations are so planned that they are in fact rehearsed. For example we sometimes over prepare for situations so that we have control over what we say and do. When overdone we can become robot like and unaware of the other person’s situation. It becomes all about what we look like not about who we are with another person.
So at first we look on the outside and without question see the person on the outside
What a person puts out into the world is also all you get to know of them sometimes. In the absence of interpersonal connection, verbal or written exchange, the person you see is the first person you get to know. So how do you know this person is who they really are? You don’t. You can’t. This is not the whole picture. This is the surface, the mask, the persona.
Whether this persona is congruent with the internal person still depends on further evidence – not from the person only but also from you.
What you sense or feel is another layer
So for us to relate authentically with another person we also need to pay attention to another level of awareness. When we meet a person we get a vibe. A vibe can either feel good, uncomfortable or somewhere in between. The vibe is often commonly mentioned in our everyday language. People even say in complex business situations comments like ‘I am not getting a good vibe about this’ or ‘I get a good vibe when I meet this person’.
Vibes = energy
When we talk vibe it’s really short for talking vibration. When we connect with someone and we pick up on their vibration we are sensing their energy. This ability to sense another person is within all of us but not likely developed. For many it is the domain of new agers or other more esoteric people we hear about at mind, body spirit festivals. In fact it is something so natural we actually are missing the opportunity to tap into this extra resource.
So for me tuning into the vibe that you feel is a way to check in with whether the other person is being real or not. When we connect we can check our own internal radar and get a sense for how we feel about what and how they say and do things.
This type of level takes more practice. It takes being conscious and aware of our own internal signals. There are many resources out there to help develop this sense. For me it is simply learning how to check in and read your own personal sensory system. It is then about validating with more evidence whether observable or not.
What you intuitively know is the ultimate layer
Beyond our senses we go to another level – the intuitive. Intuitive is a more encompassing way of reading vibes. Using our intuition is key to being real and meeting people on a real level. Intuition is one of those words thrown around in all kinds of contexts to explain anything that does not seem logical. Yet our intuition is more than being illogical as some might say. Being intuitive is about trusting our gut, getting to sense what our whole system tells us is right or not right about a situation or experience. When speaking about being intuitive I use the expression “inner knowing”. This means that intuition is highly personal, difficult to explain to another and varies from person to person.
So when we connect with a person and we are tuned in to our internal radar. We can check in to see how real this person is. This presumes we have developed our intuition to a level to detect the unreal. Some might even use the colourful phrase ‘bull#&%! detector”. So if your detector goes off you know there is something else going on.
A quick check can help you navigate to the core
Using your intuition means letting go of judgment and the inner critic. Intuition is all internal. We experience a flow of information to our conscious self from different sensory means. The typical ways in which we get information are:
- visual: see an image
- auditory: hear words
- kinesthetic: experience a body sensation
- cognitive: know thoughts.
One of these will be your more dominant or preferred way of intuitively knowing. For me it’s a mixture of images and thoughts. When we are in a state of tuning in then we can check whether the other person is being real by checking these clues.
So great, you can tune in, now what?
It’s a great awakened and developed skill to begin to tune in. It will help you greatly to pick up how another person is being in an exchange with you.
What if you detect they are not being real. Well here’s where some maturity and experience and highly developed self awareness comes in. The immediate reaction might be to judge the person, place them in a category and immediately write them off. A more loving and generous gesture would be to give the person the benefit of the doubt. Instead of meeting the person that is presenting begin to try and discover and meet the person that is inside.
Ultimately the person really is another person just like you
This statement is a challenge to many yet when we come down to it others are people too. What gets in the way are all the layers they create around them to protect and defend. A real challenge and aspiration then is to use your observations, senses and intuition to discover the essence of the other person. Then seek to meet and get to know this person and less the one that seems to get in the way. You will be rewarded.
The key factor is being real ourselves
So far I have focused on seeing others for who they really are. If I were to stop here you would think it’s all about them. But it is not. It’s actually about you being who YOU really are. To truly engage with others and truly get past the surface and connect intuitively with another you also have to be real. If you are not offering in exchange the openness and authenticity you desire then how can you expect to receive any in return.
If you are lucky you will meet a truly conscious and evolved person who no matter what you do sees you for the person inside. You can connect easily. They have learned to rise above the comparison and be themselves no matter what. These people make it easier for you to be real.
So we are back to where we began
How can you be who you really are in all situations with all people? Well it takes time, it takes work and it takes conscious being in all situations. Not easy for us to do. We have emotions, beliefs, attitudes, etc getting in the way.
It’s a matter of turning the attention to you away from others
To be who you really are you need to pay attention to you. I shared above examples of how to look at others and determine if they are being real. Now it’s your turn. To be real apply the same perspectives to yourself. Look at you:
- Observe your behaviours, actions, reactions, persona.
- Sense your feelings, vibe, changes in emotion.
- Know what your inner self tells you through seeing, hearing, sensing and knowing.
Start being your own detective on your self.
So I need to be real too
Well for me to show you what I mean, I need to ask myself am I being who I really am. I ask this question a lot, over and over and over again. I always go to new depths in the answer, have new factors to consider and realise new insights.
So what does being me really mean to me? It means being free to be me. I am free to be me in every moment, every day, all days of my life. I am free of the shackles of society restrictions, should’s and should not’s. I am not self imposed by limits. I am self empowered to reach to the heights of my fullest potential.
I also get in my own way. Just as much as the next person I am learning and aspiring to be real. It is my journey, your journey, our journey.
I ask myself am I being real
Then why am I not there? Well like most of us there is the fact that I am human. I have come to believe that part of the human condition is working through the struggle in our life to discover and be who we really are in all aspects. This means not just our private life and personal choices but in our work, our relationships and the expression of what we do.
So I leave you to ponder, reflect and consider what being who you really are means to you.
Let's go there...