Have you been judging yourself for not doing more during this involuntary world timeout? This has been a common theme for many I’ve spoken with this week, as a society used to doing is having a collective identity crisis.
A friend berated himself for not beginning virtual piano lessons. A family member did the same for not cleaning out closets. A coaching client was angry with herself for not following through on a creative idea. They didn’t actually want to do these things; they felt like they should. Why? Because they have more time.
What if that time wasn’t designed for more doing? What if that time was a gift that could be best utilized for something more productive than producing?
Having grown up in families and societies that value doing at the expense of being, some people have a very difficult time slowing down. Doing has been woven into our inner fabric; what we do has become synonymous with who we are.
But we are being called to learn who we are underneath the externals that we identify with, and in some cases, even base our entire identities upon.
Being forced to release some of the externals of our lives, at least temporarily, can feel like a major crisis. Hence the term “identity crisis.” Who are we if we are not our careers, or some of the other activities and roles we have based our self-worth upon?
You Are Not What You Do
Who you are, at the core of your being, has nothing to do with what you do. And when you can’t do the things you think you’re supposed to, or fulfill the roles you have built your identity around, something pretty magical can happen: you can learn who you really are.
While growing up, many of us learned to produce in order to be of value, and had to create false identities to be approved of or feel loved. It wasn’t safe to be us, with our preferences and emotions; people got angry with us for that. If we got positive feedback for doing, and for playing roles our source figures encouraged and even demanded, these roles became entwined with who we believed ourselves to be.
If you’re a caretaker, for example, either professionally, personally or both, you likely got positive feedback for those behaviors growing up, and/or got punished for moments of “selfishness.” Who are you today if you’re not helping someone?
Let me let you in on a little secret: you are enough, just as who you are, without any of that doing. This is a perfect time to learn that, as uncomfortable as that process may be.
A few years ago, life forced me to release just about everything I identified with externally; layer by layer. Every role I identified with and every way of life collapsed, one at a time, like dominoes. It was an extremely painful time of my life for many reasons, but looking back, I can see the common denominator behind all the challenges: I had to learn who I was without any of the externals I had built my identity and life around.
In the process, I found out who I really am. Today, I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I can create externals again; we all can, and we will. But we’ll do so as our true selves. Please don’t miss this opportunity to find out who that is. You’ll understand why when you do it, because you will find out how truly amazing you are.
Clear Your Traffic:
If you’re ready to start that discovery, you can start by doing a little less. If something doesn’t feel good and it’s optional, what would happen if you simply don’t do it right this very minute?
What if you didn’t clean that closet, learn the piano, take action on an idea or (fill in the blank for you)?
Our entire world has slowed down, and if you find yourself with more time, what would it be like not to have to “kill it,” as another family member expressed today.
Why kill time? It’s a gift. Use it to find out who you are.
If you don’t do something you feel like you should, what feelings come up? What beliefs about yourself, or about life?
If you’re not yet convinced that you’re not what you do, think back ten years ago, then twenty, and then even further back through the eras of your life. Did you do the same things you’re doing now? Did you engage in different hobbies or activities? Did you have different people in your life? No matter the externals, you were still you.
If the idea of not doing at all times scares you, don’t worry – you will get everything done that you need to, at exactly the right time. And once you have your own approval, regardless of what you do or don’t do, you‘ll learn to trade in those roles that haven’t been working for you – you know, the ones that were sucking the very life out of you – for ones that feel really good.
If you give yourself permission to just “be” more during this timeout, you’re going to cultivate the version of you that will prepare you for the greatest role of your life – one you actually want to play.
Our emerging world is going to need people who know who they truly are paving the way. You deserve to be one of them!
Be present and compassionate as this false self begins to release. It can be an uncomfortable process. If you want to schedule a session around that, to learn some ways to make it easier, I’m here for you!
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With so much love,