A visit to the dentist, earlier today, reminded me of something I wrote a little while ago about Identity Theft. It links to a blog post I shared with you recently about the labels by which people know us, and the uniqueness of our personal identity. It’s slightly ironic that as we talked at my dental appointment today we talked of needing updated x-rays on my next visit, because my dental records have now changed as a result of the story below. Yet more proof, if it were needed, of my unique identity!
Here’s my story…
A while ago I had acute, unrelenting toothache. A pain from which there was no escape. It was a tooth I had endeavoured to save, to rescue even, to hold on to for years and years. As is so often the case, the pain started on a Friday afternoon and, by Monday, at my emergency dental appointment the tooth was in three pieces. That doesn’t make for an easy extraction!! And whilst I’m very fond of my dentist, I did not enjoy the physical battle that ensued between my dentist and my jaw, that afternoon.
The repercussions of the battle lasted another five days. I now know what it means when people say they just can’t think straight, in fact, it felt like I lost the ability to think at all! Eventually someone wise made the observation that you just can’t get away from a pain in your face…. There is NO escape. But the relief, when everything had healed and the pain had settled, was beyond words.
Recently, I’ve been reading about something else that we just can’t escape from. Who we are. Our identity. Our authentic self. The person we would dare to be if we weren’t wrapped up in the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ of life. The person we are when we take time to tune into our still small voice (our inner GPS) that we are, so often, too afraid to hear.
I mention ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ because when I talk to clients about the art of personal effectiveness, this is the part of the conversation that gets the greatest initial reaction. We all have personal experience of doing what other people think we should do, whether that’s our teachers, our parents, our partners or our boss…. And, if you’ve ever become the boss you’ll know that’s the point at which staff start telling you what you should do, too!
It’s when our experience of should, far outweighs our experience of personal choice that we begin to feel unease and conflict – either internally or with other people. Someone recently described it to me as a form of ‘identity theft’ that they battle with as they live behind the mask of other peoples expectation. Going along with who others want us to be might seem to be the easy option, but it depletes us of the energy to go after the things we really want in life, to be who we really want to be.
It came as a huge relief, to that person, when I shared an extract from my reading. It’s taken from The War of Art, by Stephen Pressfield, a hugely thought provoking book about breaking through barriers and winning our inner battles :
“Each came into this world with a distinct and unique personality, an identity so set that you can fling stardust and great balls of fire at it, and not morph it by one microdot”.
What is possible for you if that is true?
Our uniqueness isn’t defined by what we do or the roles we play – just as our identity isn’t our label, or the box we put ourselves in. Nor should we confuse identity with image. Our identity is all of the things that are uniquely ours – the things that make us complete. It’s those things that go through our very core, like when you look at the words that go through a stick of rock. It’s what we can’t escape. We can’t not be unique!
It is in the very act of accepting ourselves as who we were born to be that we free ourselves from obligation and expectation, and can start to achieve the real choice that comes as being ‘the real me’. And, lest you should think I’m suggesting that’s easy, let me re-assure you that I’m on that journey too. But maybe it doesn’t have to be as hard as we might choose to make it. To return to the words of Stephen Pressfield:
“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are, and become it”.
What would be possible for you, if you were becoming who you already are? Do get in touch if you’d like to explore that further.
Until next time… be bold, be brave and be brilliant.
Are you on a mission to create change in your world? Do come and join my Mission Unstoppable community. I’d love to learn more about your mission, especially if I can help you to lead with confidence, create more impact and live a life that matters.