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.
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 to everybody reading this. Forget the expectations of others and just do your thing. You’ll have better experiences and meet a whole bunch of nice people on the way.
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 says
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 says
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!
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 :)
David Turnbull says
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 the topic. :-)
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 says
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, you’d have to keep out all new information, or else there would be something new you’d have to integrate, which would immediately put you in a state of incongruence. This is in my opinion why many personal development gurus advocate for not watching the news and why conservative Christians deny evolution–it’s easier to maintain a state of congruence when you reject large bodies of information that are difficult to integrate.
If congruence is not a steady state one can achieve permanently, than is increasing integrated complexity the goal? If so, we must admit that aiming for increasing integrated complexity creates the possibility of higher-level pathologies–thus making congruence an ongoing vector with no resting state and no ultimate liberation. More things can go wrong with more complex systems (cats can get cancer, amoeba’s cannot). This makes the notion of being a closed-minded conservative more appealing, and must be addressed.
According to models of adult development psychology, at some stages of ego development the self appears to be a unified whole, but this tends to precede later stages in which the self fractures into numerous sub-personalities. There is some speculation that this fracturing precedes an even higher unity, but little evidence yet to conclusively support this conclusion. Even if it does, you have to go through every stage to get to the higher unity, which perhaps itself fractures again, and so on ad infinitum. This makes attempts to freeze congruence as a final goal look like developmental arrest.
Buddhism goes further that development psychology in arguing that even the psychological personality–including all actions and emotions–is not who you really are. According to the suttas, what you “truly” are is the indestructable dharmakaya, the nameless emptiness, prajnaparamita, rigpa, Buddha-dathu, etc. This is because everything else is constantly changing (impermanence), has an unsatisfactoriness to it because it changes (suffering), and lacks a self who is doing the perceiving (no self)–see https://bit.ly/XeAu1 . Not only that, but Buddhists say you can discover this truth of who you ultimately are experientially through meditative discipline and self-inquiry–a pretty bold claim to be sure.
“I could be five different people in one given day, and none of them was me.” According to Buddhism, the role you enjoy playing as “me” now isn’t really you either. According to narrative self theory in psychology, the “me” narrative is an ongoing construction, a story you piece together to make sense of the world. You could just as easily construct a different story, highlighting other aspects of yourself, which is exactly why major life catastrophes are so difficult to bear–because we have to rewrite the story of who we thought we were in order to have a congruent, coherent story.
The deeper philosophical challenge with narrative self theory is that all notions of who I really am are stories, i.e. fictions. These stories come from the surrounding culture–we cannot be free of cultural conditioning, although we have some relative freedom to choose which conditioning we prefer. But in our search for our authentic self, it may be that there is no “there” there. There is no authentic self to be discovered. Even in the Buddhist story, the “ultimately real” you is an utterly indescribable direct experience, and every word written about it has irrevocably distorted any truth that was once present.
Living authentically then contains within it a deep lie, which is that we believe our own story as real, we play the role of Hamlet and believe we really did kill Polonius. The illusion is believed to be reality, and we are forever caught even in our stories of uncovering illusion.
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 keep living/speaking my truth in all areas of my life. Or I’m lying to my clients (and my friends, and my daughter, etc.). It’s a great way to keep the pressure on myself to be congruent AND to create meaning for everything I do in business/life. And slightly crazy/awesome.
Chris - ZTF says
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 everyone will take into the weekend!
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 individualism is seen as somehow throwing a wrench in the well-oiled machine. I digress here a bit….
What I can say is that I’m making an effort to be that person. To live in harmony with myself and the rest of the world.
Oleg Mokhov says
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 my parents’ home :)
My dad wasn’t too happy with my life direction, since I wasn’t pretending that I was going to get a masters degree in the future anymore (we’re Russian, so a degree means everything). But rather than feel awful in a negative-vibe house, I actually felt relieved. I no longer had to pretend anything – all I needed to do was just be me. No need to come up with a spin or a story, but just act and say what I naturally feel.
Eventually, my dad got over it (I guess he accepted that I wasn’t doing any more organized edumacation). And I still feel great because since January of ’09 I no longer had to put energy to pretend.
I let my genuine self come through to everybody I interact with, and I’d like to think my awesomeness increased as a result. I’m loving life even more now, attracting the right energy and people, and putting my newly-recovered energy (from fakin’ it) to doing what I love.
Thanks for sharing your experience. A valuable lesson to really, really be yourself and life is all the better for it,
Tomas Stonkus says
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, but I believe that it is natural for us to show different qualities, different side of our personalities around different people.
Some individuals will bring out and touch on a different part of us and we should OK with that. I can just image many people who read this article going of trying to force themselves to act exactly the same around everybody else.
Other than that. It is a great article, and I agree that doing things that are serving your higher purpose in life will make your life much easier and much more fulfilling.
Molly Hoyne says
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 allow yourself the grace to change your mind. Remember that we all are allowed to grow. To shift. To adjust, as we soak up more of the world.
Love this post, Jonathan. Keep it rocking.
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, I would say that is authentic.
Ultimately, authenticity is about integrating the body and the spirit, not favoring one over the other. That includes your story, while being aware of it’s temporal, ephemeral nature.
Sami Paju says
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 it shine through you in each and every situation.
To me that’s what being authentic, or congruent means.
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. Congruence includes your actions, your adaptive unconscious, and your conscious thoughts.
Now I worried about congruence being too prescriptive. After all you can still choose willingly to surrender some of your freedom to secure some other worthy objective, like relationships with your significant other and children.
As a consequence I now use (and will use in my novel) the word ‘harmony’. That is you will benefit the most from life if your actions, unconscious, and conscious thoughts are in harmony with with each other. This allows you the flexibility for some bits of you to follow slightly different ‘parts’ but still in touch with the overall ‘you’.
Conguence is tidy and powerful; harmony is thrilling and beautiful as well.
Of course your experience may be different…
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 wall posting.
Laura Cococcia | The Journal of Cultural Conversation says
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 – will definitely try and implement some of these concepts myself.
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 sure both outcomes are fairly quick routes to experiencing episodes of emotional/mental/spiritual distress.)
I would say that choosing to live from a place of authenticity (the core self) and then finding ways to create a life that supports that decision–including following one’s purpose and passions–takes a real act of courage in a society that prefers to reward people for unquestioningly conforming to the social “norms” (I would argue some of them are more like “abnorms” as in almost pathological.) that are supposed to govern our behavior. It can be tough to do that on one’s own (especially in the face of opposition from loved ones, friends and coworkers who might find it more convenient if you would just “play by the so-called rules”), so finding a like-minded “tribe” that is supportive and can work together not just to encourage but also to inspire and–when necessary– gently keep one accountable for following through on the actions that will get you closer to living in alignment and on purpose is a real blessing.
Christian Russell says
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- AlittleBetter.net says
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 says
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 | GuitarHabits.com says
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.
Ron Acker says
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 says
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 before I may have not. As this unfolds naturally, then one day I will achieve congruence. I have you linked on my blog, you have been a true inspiration. Thanks again.
I really love this, live with the extinction of boundaries and we will find what is life all about.
Brad Mangas says
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 of personal truth for fear of hurting, or of being inappropriately present, which is to say naked, in a social situation. Alone we can afford to be wholly whatever we are, and to feel whatever we feel absolutely. That is a great luxury.”
As you said, “It’s this kind of fragmentation that chokes your spirit.”
Right on! This is probably one of my top three blog posts I’ve read in a long time. Awesome, Jonathan, awesome.
Linda Wolf says
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 before reading #11 on your list: “Be insane…Whatever you do, make it extremely remarkable…You have to be insanely something.” Congruence indeed.
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 be a waste of time. The good thing with the compartments is that when one area goes bad such as me being laid off, it doesn’t affect my other compartments. I just spend more time in my home and church compartments while working at getting a job.
Andrew Fashion says
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 :)
Miss MatchMaker says
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
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 change personalities and “be” someone different at work than I am at home for example. I’d even take it as far as I enjoy being someone different when I’m with you as opposed to another person. Its this multiplicity that gives live flavor for me. How bored would one be if they actually were able to obtain “complete congruence?” He says congruence, but I hear monotony…
Scott Webb says
I get up excited each day for doing what I do. I’ve had such a tough year too. Making hardly anything, not buying anything new, doing what I can to change my life. It’s tough and it’s probably why many people never do it.
Thanks for this post and the inspiration.
I’m not sure I understand. Our authentic self is not a construct; it is our spirit/soul. There are no boundaries on it, it is naturally free, the person we were born as. All these constructs were taught to us by our parents, culture, and advertisements. It is not us. TO be authentic, to be our real selves, is the utmost meaning of religion, because it means to be rid of all the dirt. It takes a whole lot of courage and may I say it, faith, to follow one’s heart. Following your heart and being true to yourself is taught the world over. But who is the real self? And that is where the real work begins- removing all the false ideas about who we are. We are pure beings of light- free and new spirits. We are all one. At our core level of being, there is no separation. So to say ‘i have to be authentic’ does not mean, I have to be the construct of my ego which I have gained by living in this world. What being authentic means is to be the God that is in all of us. And this is what jesus taught, did he not?
To be authentic does not mean to seem to act the same in one situation as in the other, at home the same as at work. What it means is to come from the place of the spirit, the heart, the true self, always. What it means is to live. And this necessarily means breaking the rules you used to live by, and having courage. I think this necessarily brings up the eastern Buddhist tradition. DO you leave work and family to follow God, or do you put family and work first, then when you retire and your kids are grown, follow God? And that is what we are talking about, for following your self, and following God are one in the same.
Amen! This is really where it’s at and my wish for every human being on this planet. We need more truth in humanity and the world. Rules-following and making the choices others expect of us does absolutely nothing for anyone around us. Our truth, given freely and lived by us is our greatest gift to ourselves, those we love and the world. Stand up, be authentic and live out loud!
Ever think that acting as the type of person that compartmentalizes is part of who some people are? Early on I recognized I compartmentalized, but I didn’t take it as a reason to stop, but recognized that the multiple facets of who I am are integral to who I am. I feel as if I get to work on different facets of who I am in different situations, and I have learned to remove situations in which I feel as if I cannot deal with genuinely. I talk to my teachers differently than I talk to my sports teammates, my “urban” friends, my “suburban” friends, my elders, etc but I think that the diverse plethora of people I can relate to is one of my best facets. I think of it being more in congruence with others than in separation from yourself. That being said, it is nice that you have recognized this and have acted on it, just don’t think that it is necessary for all compartmentalizers to de-compartmentalize.
Ran across this posting today and was floored. I was thinking about how disturbing it is that i always feel pressured to compartmentalize my life. Loved your writing, you’ve put thoughts I share but couldn’t express into words. I look forward to reading ore of your blog.
Ran across this posting today and was floored. I was thinking about how disturbing it is that I always feel pressured to compartmentalize my life. Loved your writing, you’ve put thoughts I share but couldn’t express into words. I look forward to reading more of your blog.
Jung said that wholeness is not achieved by cutting off one’s portion of being, but instead wholeness is achieved by the integration of the contraries.
This is very interesting. As a social worker, I came to a place of total boredom with what I was doing. I realized that it actualized parts of myself to be in that role, but did not acknowledge other parts of spirit that I was not willing to let go of quite yet. I went to massage therapy school and now that I am certified and licensed to practice in two fields, find myself trying to be more of my authentic self in relation to negotiating and integrating the boundary between the two professions. As I move forward I am trying to figure out how my gifts, skills, and person can be a service to the community and a satisfying and fulfilling experience for myself. This article resonates on so many levels. I am not a fan of compartmentalizing and realize every day that it is a defensive skill and it aids in deconstructing the self yet at times is necessary for building internal structure in the absence of external structure and forms. It can be constrictive if a defensive skill becomes a lifestyle choice. It leads to a disposition either way, too much one way or the other, that can contribute to disintegration. That being said, we all need some internal structure when the external structures go away and I think there is a place for both compartmentalizing and de-compartmentalizing, especially during transitions when we restructure our lives inside and out!
There are certain niceties that are expected as a sign of a show of respect or of interest at work. I am personally not one who likes smiling and chatting because I am an introvert. I prefer conversations to be on a deep level, or not have them at all. But because I don’t want to be disrespectful, I make myself do it. To me, it is all mostly fake. I have a ‘fakeness’ radar. Being at work simply doesn’t allow me to be who I am. Unless I could surround myself with my friends, there’s no way I can be who I am with people who I’ve seen to be cruel or antagonizing.
People obviously cannot be who they are when they are surrounded by antagonizing people. And there always is one in the bunch. Unless you can have your own business and hire your own friends, there is no way to go to work and ‘be your self’.
Sharon Muiruri says
Thank you .It sounds so easy .
I have to work on that too. It’s not easy at all. And you described the feeling of putting on facades so well.
This is a great post and something I’m sure we are all guilty of every now and then.
It’s definitely not healthy in the long term!
My goodness– so well said– and so resonant with my most important learning over the past few years. To walk in my shoes for the majority of my 56 years has looked like this: gay, in a long-term marriage, 2 children, 6 children, working in a job (lucrative) that I hated, member of a conservative fundamentalist religion– now also shall I put it– Billy Graham, Anderson Cooper, John Dewey, and the father on “Father Knows Best” all wrapped into one. As you can only imagine, I was one conflicted man. Though I may not have verbalized it as I would now, I prayed and cried for authenticity and congruence, but ultimately I had decisions to make. After a crash and burn due to alcoholism and drug addiction, I realized I could not survive this life any longer. Long story short, I came out, I don’t care who in the world knows it, I left the lucrative but loathed position, divorced, and now seek higher levels of congruence daily. It is a feeling of freedom. It has given me voice (just one). It has brought me a same-sex soulmate whom I love more than words could express. Though the struggle towards congruency and authenticity can be grueling and expose ones self to great judgment from those who liked the incongruent version of you better, it translates into freedom and happiness and new levels of peace. Do the work…
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I have only recently found out that I am highly compartmentalised naturally and I want to decompartmentalise a bit. Your explanation of your old self is exactly how I am now. How do you decompartmentalise? I cannot find any information by myself and do not know how to go about it.
Randall Pritchett says
i decided to be me with everyone. i was shamed, discredited, denounced as crazy and insensitive and mostly by family. it took a while to realize that all the b.s. they had foisted on me since birth using religious battering and gang up on randy interventions etc was the root ov my compartmentalizations into false persons causing major stress and dysfunctions in every aspect ov my life. why did i value people who devalued the real me? i am me and i will be me or this is not my life. they do not accept my calls nor communicate in any way now unless they want something. i give them a piece ov my mind right up front. with no fear ov the truth or expressing it, i tell them straight up how dishonest, manipulative and untrustworthy they are. oddly, i feel no animosity or need for retribution toward them. i actually love them instead ov worshipping them in hopes i might gain acceptance. i accept me and have no need for anyone else’s acceptance nor am i willing to do the least thing to gain it. i give from my heart now and don’t care if people appreciate it or not, i do it for me because it is the right thing and i feel good doing right. has nothing to do with them nor will i be motivated by them implying i owe anyone anything. i don’t. i owe me to be me and be good and express truth. i do not feel good being manipulated or used so i shut that shit down in a heartbeat and tell them they just blew their chance as i refuse to promote that behavior in them because it’s wrongful and harmful. i am at peace with me and therefore with the world. if they are not, all i can do is show them how i do it and be consistent every time. i am no better than anyone and actually consider that they drove me to this happiness by providing examples ov what i refuse. to accept, do or be. do not applaud me, i do that and need nothing from you. it matters not to me one whit what you do, say or think ov me either way. i wood rather see you make a commitment to be you. to know me is to know one me as i am, not 1/50th ov a fake me. let us meet as we are or we do not meet at all. i have not read the book or anything but am glad more tools are available. i did not change to become who i am, my mask fell off that’s all…