De-Compartmentalizing Your Life and the Extinction of Boundaries

De-Compartmentalizing Your Life and the Extinction of Boundaries

It could easily be said that my entire life’s purpose is to live in complete congruence.

I would say that that that is your life purpose as well — and perhaps everyone’s — if we take the idea far enough.

So first, let’s talk about what this even means. Because if you’re like me, the word “congruent” probably reminds you of 6th grade geometry and not much else. It actually has another meaning, though, and that is alignment.

When you’re living in complete congruence, complete alignment, no part of you is conflicting with any other part of you. There is no disagreement. No disturbance. No fakeness.

For a long time, I lived my life highly compartmentalized. I was one person when I was with my friends, a different person at work, and yet another person with family or my wife. It’s this kind of fragmentation that chokes your spirit.

Let me be straight: we are all multi-faceted beings. We’re not the same person in every situation all the time. We’re not binary, single-function amoebas. We manifest and express ourselves differently according to what is appropriate to the events surrounding us.

For a long time, I lived my life highly compartmentalized.

That is natural. That is perfectly fine.

What is not natural, and what is not fine, is changing who you are; manipulating yourself in order to fit some kind of mold of what is or isn’t appropriate.

That’s the way I used to live. Slow suffocation.

The really interesting thing is, this is the way people are expected to live; compartmentalizing each part of their life where relation from one area of their life to another is virtually unrecognizable. For a long time, I didn’t realize that this was what I was doing. I could be five different people in one given day, and none of them was me. They all contained fragments of me, hidden beneath my attempts to be something I was not, in order to gain the acceptance of others.

I was a slightly different (and more fake) person around family then I was with friends. I was a different person with my friends than I was with my wife. I was a different person alone, than I was with any of those other people. But most of all, where I felt most suffocated was the dichotomy between who I was everywhere else and the person I was at work.

No resemblance. Total deception.

But as I said earlier, this type of deceitfulness is totally accepted in our society. No, not just accepted. It’s expected.

It took me a while to realize that even though a lot of people choose to live this way, I didn’t have to.

Once I realized that I didn’t have to make that choice, I started to open up the airwaves and release the restriction I had placed on myself.

Then I asked one life-changing question:

What would it be like to live in complete congruence? What would it feel like to have total alignment of purpose, with no separation, no partitions, and no dissonance?

(Okay, so that’s two questions. Sue me.)

That’s when I realized that my ultimate goal in life is to live from that place of total, authentic action. Using no limits as a way of limitation.

I want there to be no discernible difference between when I am working and when I am playing. No division between my purpose and my life path.

When everything is completely integrated, when your heart, mind, and body are acting as one vehicle, your life starts to become something very beautiful. Your expression is natural, unique, and right. Your creativity flows. Your heart is opened.

And you no longer seek anything outside of yourself. You are internally validated.

Life becomes effortless when you are not trying to become anything. Your existence becomes one of expressing and expanding the awesomeness of what already is.

Your desires, your dreams, your purpose, and your contribution to the world becomes one and the same. This is what it means to live with the extinction of boundaries. This is what it means to be completely and radically congruent.

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72 Comments on "De-Compartmentalizing Your Life and the Extinction of Boundaries"

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This self-manipulation is it what makes me want to work independently rather than in an office context. Don’t get me wrong, I really love to work in a team – as I did for many years in university. But this is valid only as long as you can be yourself. In the office, way too many people enter “I have-to-do-what-they-expect”-mode – and this gets really annoying. In contrast, aiming for congruity feels just great. Since the beginning of P2E I feel that I have been heading more and more into that direction, and it’s for sure something I can recommend… Read more »

The idea of congruence or alignment of the facets of your personality is something I work towards consistently.

I remember being in a place where I asked some of my closest friends what they thought of me, and the most resounding response was that none of them felt like they really knew me. They saw all these different people in different situations and with different people, but never saw me.

Since then part of my personal work is to find the parts from all of those facets which are truly me and solidify an authentic core to live from.

Great post Jonathan.


this was exactly what i need to hear right now. it’s strange that i was just expressing my concern of how i mold myself to different peoples personalities, and my inability to understand this and correct this.

you have made it clearer to me, and i’d like to say that i really love this site, and intend to learn as much as i can. thank you.

Laura Lee Bloor

I agree that congruency should be a goal that we are all working toward. To add a bit of a realistic touch to your post, I’ve been working toward this goal for about nine months, and it will probably be years before I actually achieve it. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to truly live on your own terms, but it can be done, as you are proof. So thanks for being a living, breathing reminder!


Love this post! you’re truly a master at the art of living


this is something that i have recognized (and been grateful for) within myself for so long now, but i don’t have the.. natural ability to speak about it as profoundly as you do, haha. so thank you. :)

C. Zimmermann

I feel like I need to let this soak in – I need to marinate in it for awhile, before I could add anything meaningful to it, but I just can’t stand to let such an insightful piece sit there with 0 comments. It’s not right!


Well said.

The hardest part is to recognize our own truth underneath all the roles we play (parent, child, worker, friend, lover…etc.).

We don’t have to be or do anything. We are all we need to be. Action from this state will be authentic and effortless.

Very inspiring. Will reflect on it for a while :)

Thank you!

David Turnbull
Interesting thoughts. What I struggle with mainly is my view on money and wealth. I’ve been doing this web stuff since I was 12 and in the past I’ve had no problems with capitalism, it’s just the way it was. And while I have nothing truly against the economic system that’s won out, I feel increasingly guilty for attracting financial wealth. It’s a difficult inner battle – apart of me wants to do big things to provide value and profit, while the other part of me feels bad for that desire. Anyways, just sharing my thoughts. I’ll continue to ponder… Read more »

Yeah this is very true – I realized this about myself too. And I did try to make it a goal of mine. I lost a lot of jobs. It was worth it. But I wish I had accepted the workplace as a challenge and not just a burden on my freedom…

To be truly congruent and succeed in all facets of life… now there’s a ‘master.’


Srinivas Rao

Wow, this is quite profound. I have experienced a certain bit of this. I know that when we go into the corporate world to our offices in suits and ties we are such different people than we’d ever be with our friends. I did an experiment last year where I decided to remove all filters from all conversations to see what would happen. My friend watched me in a room telling “inappropriate” jokes to people I’d just met and was jawdropped at how well they responded to me. I think that when you get congruent you get charismatic.


Amazing article Jonathan.

I also try to live my life congruently, but whenever I go into a new situation – be it a new job, or meeting new people, its extremely difficult to be myself since I can be nervous and shy around them.

As I become more comfortable around those people, I start being who I really am, and it becomes easier and easier. The trick is not to care how people judge you.


I should have clarified and you can edit my two comments into one if you like – “I should have accepted the workplace as a challenge to my personal deficits – my unwillingness to take orders and complete intolerance of whatever I perceived as bullshit”

Congruence is a worthy principle and perhaps a value to strive for, but it is a slippery one. Many people find that they are most congruent when they act differently in different contexts. If a man acts the same way at a funeral as a college football game, he will almost certainly find himself in some trouble! Is he inauthentic if he wears a suit to the funeral and body paint to the game? What if he hates wearing suits because it reminds him of the ole’ cubicle? Is there such a thing as a permanently congruent state? If so,… Read more »
One of the amazing side effects of how my business has evolved is that I kind of get paid for how I live my life (my whole “live your truth” thing), since part of why people learn/coach from me is because I lead by example or inspire them to be insane/courageous in their own lives. In a way, I get paid to do crazy stuff that scares the crap out of me and blog about it, and to speak the things that everyone thinks and no one says and blog about the effects from doing that. So I *have* to… Read more »
Chris - ZTF
This is an interesting post to say the least. It is something we are all semi aware of but do little about it. I am the same, different at work to with my friends and different again with my family. Its hard but with practice I have managed to be more consistent and authentic in whichever situation. Speaking to everyone from the same level makes our lives a lot easier and takes so much pressure off our shoulders. The courage to be authentic and real all the time is something amazing! Thanks for the inspiring reminder, which I am sure… Read more »

I don’t think that the boundaries need to be extinguished. Like you say we are multi-dimensional. I think it is about understanding, respecting and working with our boundaries.

I agree with Fabian’s comments above and this post in general….however, I still struggle (hey, gotta be honest). I most definitely don’t live in congruence RIGHT NOW. I suppose that’s the key. I’m slowly working on it. Each moment is a new opportunity for me to live in congruence – to be one with myself and have no other expectations, worries or fear that I should try to be someone else. It’s really, really, really hard in an office environment. There is a school-like hierarchical structure. You have to act a certain way. Questioning authority isn’t tolerated. Any sort of… Read more »
Oleg Mokhov
Hey Jonathan, When you only have one genuine identity in life, your awesomeness comes through much more clearly. I too had this problem. I was most genuine around close friends and my girl, completely professional around professors and supervisors, and reserved nice son (ie. fake) around my family. And I hated it. So at the beginning of 2009, after returning to Chicago from Boston, I resolved myself to focus only on my genuine self – drop any other identities and force the genuine one through to where it wasn’t there before. And boy, did some sparks and fireworks fly at… Read more »
Tomas Stonkus
I understand what you are saying: be yourself with everybody and anybody. I understand that you are saying not to consciously change your behavior to fit into a certain group. If you do that then it will be had to be yourself at any point in time or even attract positive people into your life. However, one thing that came to my mind after reading this article is that it is important not to force ourselves to act the same around everybody. Of course, we should not change who were and what we stand for when are around different people,… Read more »
Molly Hoyne
Knowing, fully accepting and SHARING who you on the most basic level is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and those around you. I agree! I use the word authentic to describe it, not congruence, but I think we’re on the same page. It’s fairly uncommon to shed all your “personas”- but I’m with you- it’s the way I try to live, to show up, everyday. And damn, it’s hard sometimes- but connecting with the core of yourself & allowing it to be enough is incredibly freeing. My only word of *warning* with these thoughts- is to… Read more »
@ Duff Having practiced meditation for some time and studied Buddhism since I was a teenager, I can relate to what you’re saying. There is no authentic “you” because that “you” is constantly shifting. However, I would say that acting from a state of integrity, or the most intuitive, courageous path, would be the closest you can get to what we’ll call authenticity. On the other hand, yes, there is no authenticity in the self. Everything is a fabrication, when their is implied separation. Though if you’re living from Spirit, or acting with conscious awareness of the formlessness, then yes,… Read more »
Sami Paju
I think you’ve taught one of the most profound lessons here. I’ve heard it elsewhere as well, in phrases such as “being an integrated person,” meaning that those different parts of you that are in conflict should be brought together into one whole being. What you say in this post goes hand-in-hand with such concepts as being authentic with oneself, and not caring about what others think of you. If you see yourself through eyes of others all the time, it’s probably very difficult to reach this kind of alignment and just be aware of your real personality, and let… Read more »
Hi Jonathan and other good people. Curiously enough I too started using the congruence concept a year or so ago. I discovered it for myself while doing research for my first novel (3 years research, 100 lines of dialogue, hmmm). Achieving it personally is another thing entirely. So far I’ve come up with the concept of ‘the Great Freedom’ (not, I acknowledge, a unique phrase) where you throw off the constraints, usually imagined, that other people and your own past force upon you. Once you have the Great Fredom you can choose to live in congruence with your values etc.… Read more »
What a great article! This really hit home for me, as sometimes it just feels like i’m not the same person to all of the different groups in my life. But, one thing i’ve noticed in helping me to achieve congruence, is Facebook. All of my family is on facebook and so are coworkers and friends. I am the real me online and I think now everyone can see the “same” Brandi, which is the real Brandi. I think Facebook is a huge factor in helping someone achieve that. Because, you can’t control who sees what when it comes to… Read more »
Laura Cococcia | The Journal of Cultural Conversation
First – I love the image. How perfect. This is something I’ve been grappling with recently – how to stay myself when having to play various roles at work / home / with friends. I want to make sure I’m keeping true to my personality, but always recognize the limits we may have in certain environments and with certain people. The above comment about being “authentic” is probably the best way to describe what I’m trying to achieve now, though it’s always a bit of a challenge. Thanks for your insights on how you’ve broken down these personal boundaries –… Read more »
Hi Jonathan, This is a great article. Life is so much easier–and we have so much more energy to pursue our purpose and passions–when we live in alignment with our core self (Or as Martha Beck refers to it in her books on living in alignment with one’s purpose and passions, the “essential self” ) or our soul. It’s definitely easier than bending one’s self out of shape to fit in with who we are “supposed to be” in different settings (work, family, etc) and feeling either suffocated by these personas and/or feeling completely alienated from our core selves. (I’m… Read more »
Christian Russell

Being true to yourself is the only way to fly. Rarely achieved. Your post is engaging, but how to grab this quality for yourself? It’s more a matter of realization than it is self-discipline or simply deciding to be a different person. My two cents. I dig this blog more every time I visit…I have this saved as one of my favorite designs online right now too, fyi. totally love it :)

Justin Dixon-

Its a constant chase, and a constant learning experience. I know that I still fall into old habits, but I would rather be disliked as me than loved as someone else.

John Williams

I think the idea of congruence is definitely in the air. People are moving towards transparency as social media lets everyone know what it’s really like to work with you anyway.

A friend of mind used to hide the fact that he was a musician as well as a marketing consultant and has finally relented with my encouragement to do both things under the same name. We don’t need to pretend to be one dimensional any more – hurray!

Klaus Tol |

HI Jonathan,

Great post. I think age also plays a big part in this process. When you become older you are likely to become more authentic. You don’t have deal with a lot of the stuff you did when you were a teenager, so you need less faces.
Adulthood also gives you the freedom the be more authentic.

Klaus Tol


[…] Here’s a well-written post on something I’ve written about here at TIS before — the removal of the “work/life” distinction and the embrace of “life” in all …. (”Decompartmentalizing Your Life and the Extinction of […]

Ron Acker

Terrific post; I’ve shared this with my family.

I think “congruence” emerges out of two principles, (1) love youself first and then you can love others and (2) know that you don’t need an “other” to make your life meaningful.

The failure to achieve “congruence” is to my mind largely the result of a lack of self-esteem that arises out of our failure to love nuture and take care of ourselves first and foremost. We NEED to love ourselves before we can hope to extend that love to others.

Alma McKinley
Thank you for this one. You put words to the inner conflict that has obviously always existed, but has more recently been poking for a way out. This message is straight to the point and very articulate. I feel as though recently, using the amoeba analogy, I have been extending my boundaries further in each setting. I see us doing this partly for our desire to feel safe in all of the settings we face daily. So as I can prove my safety more and more to myself the more I am comfortable with showing a part of me that… Read more »

I really love this, live with the extinction of boundaries and we will find what is life all about.

Brad Mangas

Your words make much sense to me Johnathan.
I think this is what I have striven for and never knew exactly what it was or how to get there. Reading your post made something very clear to me. Congruency is what I need and your description makes it even more a necessity in my life. Your point it out very well.
Thanks for talking straight.


I came across this post because my boyfriend has made me aware of how I compartmentalize my life: My kids are drawer #1; my boyfriend is drawer #2; my job is drawer #3, etc.
This has created a great deal of stress in our relationship for a variety of reasons and I am interested in learning how to change my behavior.
I would like to live a more congruent life. If anyone has specific exercises or ideas as to how to do that (other than just trying to consciously do so) I would be interested to learn about them.


Hi Terence, try getting to know the parts of you that you dislike. It’s tough stuff usually and you may need support (paid or unpaid) but the liberation of even small successes is huge.

I actually read this the other day, and made a note on my to-do list to go and look up an excerpt from May Sarton’s, “The Rewards of Living a Solitary Life,” and come back to comment, because it reminded me so much of that. The first time I read it, I had a total lightbulb moment. “Loneliness is most acutely felt with other people, for with others, even with a lover sometimes, we suffer from our differences of taste, temperament, mood. Human intercourse often demands that we soften the edges of our perception, or withdraw at the very instant… Read more »

[…] Jonathan (my husband) thinks you should de-compartmentalize your life, & live in complete congruence. […]

Linda Wolf
Jonathan, Thank you for your blog and your latest writings – in addition to this post on congruence, which I relate to, and the last one on the fake growth addict – which finally puts a name to something that has been puzzling me for years – I really enjoyed your article on “How to Create a Highly Viral Blog.” In fact, it was perfect reading for me as I started my own blog. I read parts of the article, then worked on my blog title, back and forth. I came up with my blog – Insanely Serene – just… Read more »
I’ve been succesfuly living a compartmentalized life for years. I see no problem with it. I don’t act different in each compartment like I use to when I was a teen. My compartments for the most part are very separated by physical distance. I deal with and see different people in the different areas such as work, home and church. The thing I never do and only because there is no reason to, is talk about my other compartments to the people of the compartment I’m in. The people don’t know the people in my other compartments so it would… Read more »
Andrew Fashion

Damn man, you a really good writer, I completely agree. Good article man!


This is a great article explaining how we could all live more authentically, more congruent, more aligned with who we really are: Love itself.

In order to do that one needs to become whole & integrated first. You can’t have all parts running together (congruence) when you have dissociated aspects of self split off…that is the first job and easily attainable through some very simple & scientific processes.


Wow, Jonathan, what a totally awesome article! You are a man of few words, but they are all very deep :)



[…] to do here.  While I am still not 100% happy with what I do, I made steps towards it and a more meaningful life in […]

Miss MatchMaker

Kudos to you for focusing on being your true authentic self in every portion of your life! I know this can be very challenging, it is something I try to practice as well as teach and it’s not always easy! ~ xoxo


[…] wake up excited to start work. No, I’m not kidding. I eat and breathe what I do. For me, there are no boundaries. And the only way I’ve done that is by being obsessed with what I […]

What the author of this “article” fails to do is provide any type of supporting evidence for this theory. He simply states that manipulating who we are to fit certain social constructs is “suffocating” and expects me to take his word for it. I, for one, happen to feel that molding ourselves to fit society is a perfectly normal part of being a social animal. Reference the behavior of any other social animal (ie the chimpanzee) and you will see that social structure is perfectly natural. I rather enjoy the various “hats” that I wear and relish being able to… Read more »

[…] wake up excited to start work. No, I’m not kidding. I eat and breathe what I do. For me, there are no boundaries. And the only way I’ve done that is by being obsessed with what I do. I don’t think I […]

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