Archive for July, 2012

Are You a Who or a What?

July 23, 2012

I just had a thought.  Since that doesn’t happen very often, I would like to keep it in my head and run with it! So here it is: I think it is possible to spend too much time being concerned about WHAT you are, and not enough time nurturing WHO you are. Whoa…..…that is deep……..for me.

Think about it; we all tend to play different roles in life, depending upon situations and the company we are keeping. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us can remember times during which we “morphed” or changed personalities in order to impress, compete or possibly fit in. Consider how we behave in new relationships; we seemingly know exactly who we are when we first meet someone, but we may find that soon we are altering that authentic self a bit; to be what the other person seems to want us to be. If our behavior is at odds with our deepest values, we become a WHAT rather than a WHO.  Why does this happen and is it a natural part of relating to others, or do we not fully comprehend the benefits of maintaining the integrity of our authenticity? I think it is perfectly natural and healthy to be flexible and willing to compromise on some things. And certainly, when we are in relationships with other people, we want to please them, …and we should. It is also good to expand our horizons and possibly adopt new attitudes. But if we become like quick-change artists and hop from one set of values to another, we run the risk of losing who we really are. It’s like an actor trying to play all of the parts in a play; sooner or later, he’’s going to get confused and forget which costume he should be wearing or which accent he should be using when he speaks!  It might be entertaining to see a six foot tall man with a beard wearing a frilly dress and talking like a southern belle, but he woul’d lose his credibility. This is assuming the play wasn’’t supposed to be a comedy!

What does it mean to be authentic, anyway? The word is defined as “being worthy of acceptance based on who one is; being true to one’’s own personality, spirit and character.” In other words, it is the “you” that can be found at your deepest core, when everything else is stripped away, is your authentic self. It is not defined by your job and the roles you play to live up to other people’s expectations.  It is honoring the gifts you were given and the person you were designed to be. My daughter calls it “your default character.” By that, she means that your authentic self is the one to which you revert when the other personalities you have tried don’t work …because they aren’’t truly you. The interesting thing is that if you will pay attention, you will hear your authentic self; your WHO, if you will….whispering to you.  If you are becoming a WHAT, and spending all of your energy trying to fit into someone else’’s value system; one that is not allowing you to be true to yourself, that whisper may get louder. When the whisper becomes a yell, it is a good indication that you are not honoring your authenticity.

We just need to make sure that we understand the difference between authenticity and justification for unwise decisions or inappropriate behavior.  (Imagine the little cartoon angel and devil perched on your shoulders. If you’’re being poked by a pitchfork, …you may be on the wrong track.)  Being true to yourself doesn’’t diminish the opinions of others and it doesn’t mean that you should just accept your flaws and not try to improve yourself or ignore another person’’s needs. But think of how much more you can offer if you allow yourself to be aligned with your life’’s purpose.

So there you have my opinion about Who and What. Possibly, I will address the When, Where and Whys of life next time. Ha!