“Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” – Brené Brown
It sounds easy. In theory.
But in practice this can lead to decisions that are really hard.
Even if becoming more OK and more gentle with ourselves is one of the goals of our personal development, “just be yourself” is still very vague.
It doesn’t mean “just be the jerk you”, “be the you from ten years ago”, or “just be the you who, if she chooses to, doesn’t show up for others”. And it doesn’t ONLY entail sharing your weird sense of humour (ah damn it.).
Sometimes, being yourself – and choosing to stay yourself – can be really hard.
Brené Brown calls it choosing belonging over fitting in. It is choosing to stay true to ourselves instead of compromising our values and principles, not acting out of integrity, and not being our authentic selves.
Sometimes, Brené reminds us, that means standing alone.
I will add – using a word that was the whooooole topic of the second season of my podcast and many of my articles – that also means a lot of discomfort. So it’s a quick reminder that discomfort is something we need to normalise, accept, and allow ourselves to feel.
Sometimes, it comes with uncertainty, grief, heartache, and lots of doubts.
Yet if we know what our values, principles, and life mission are, there is a certain peace that comes knowing this is what we have chosen.
So how to know them – and ourselves! hence the name, investigative selfism… – better, what can we do?
I’d like to suggest three things, the last one being a nice video!
First, something that Stephen Covey advises us to do in his 7 Habits book, is to write down our life mission.
It might sound like a huge task, but we can put it as simply “What’s important to me?” What do I want to be doing in this world, in terms of general direction and experiences?
(I know, that’s still huge)
For example, for me, some of the bullet points I have for my mission are to be constantly learning, to connect with people, and to keep on seeing and experiencing the world.
Sometimes, when faced with some tough dilemmas, I remind myself that, “Hey, THESE are what’s important to you, remember? Please don’t put comfort and certainty above that. In fact, comfort and certainty aren’t even on your list!”
Writing down your life mission shouldn’t be a rigid list that doesn’t change. And it shouldn’t feel limiting (“well, I guess I’m about this and not that then…”). What it should be is an inspiring reminder what is it that you seek in the world.
Second, define and set an intention of how you’d like to be.
How do you want to show up in the world? What energy to bring? What values to live? If you could choose three words, three descriptors, what would those be?
altruistic – courageous – empathetic – fierce – generous – kind – loving – …
Out of a long list, what do YOU wanna be about?
Defining it doesn’t guarantee anything (another ‘damn it’). But if we constantly remind ourselves how we want to show up, the chance of us actually doing that increases.
Third, what are your non-negotiables in life?
What are your preferences?
What are your boundaries?
What are the things you simply won’t compromise on?
These are a big part of what we all are. And, just like with a life mission and our intented states of being – or the emotions we want to generate – draw a clearer picture of what we’re about.
And if we staying true to ourselves, no matter how hard that is, that’s what we’re stay true to.
I must admit, when I was younger “values” and “life mission” seemed rather vague and something almost ourside of myself.
“Here stands me, and here, outside of myself, are my values” (weird, I know).
Now, having understood that “Oh waiiiiit, that’s what we use to, you know, just NAVIGATE LIFE?!”, I understand how important it is.
Not to limit ourselves, but to be the true and authentic us that we are.
So now what?
Now, two equally important things:
One, a video I’ve promised! It’s by Terri Cole, a lady whose work on boundaries (and more!) I’ve been sharing here rather consistently.
I’ve already introduced Terri Cole to you in my post on boundaries: it has an informative and engaging interview inside, please give yourself the time to
Two, it’s a reminder to be as cool and authentic as this tomato!
If a tomato can do it, surely we can, too!
…and three: please share this post with anyone who you think might need to read this. Living authentically is tough; I’d take all the help I can get.