What Are You Waiting For? The Real YOU?

December 30, 2017 at 8:53 AM 1 comment

“I WILL NOT SHOULD ON MYSELF TODAY,” says the sign in the large office where the counseling students gather at The University of Akron. Must be important advice if that’s what they wanted us to see day in and day out while the faculty did their best to teach us how to be effective, empathic counselors.

You’ve heard people caution others about words like should, must, ought to, have to. What’s the big deal? Those words indicate that the voice speaking in your head is not your own. “I should make my bed.” That’s my mother’s voice. “I should always be kind.” That’s my father’s voice. “I should be on time.” That’s my daughter in law. “I should always have strawberries in the house.” Grandson Nicholas. On and on the voices tell us what to do and how to do it.

Julie, one of my all-time favorite clients, used to call these voices her “committee.” That’s a great name for it. Some days it feels like everything we do is determined, predicted and debated by “the committee.” This is a cause of anxiety, depression and anger. It stalls us and leads us to actions which are inauthentic for us, but had been appropriate for the member of the committee who taught us the axiom. In other words, it was someone else’s truth and belief, but is not necessarily our truth or belief.

When you hear yourself using any of the words which indicate that something MUST BE a certain way, stop, and ask yourself whether that’s something you actually believe. This is a giant step toward living an “eyes wide open,” conscious life. The more we should on ourselves, the more we’re flying on autopilot. The more we listen to the committee, the less authentically ourselves we are.

I recommend a new year’s resolution that doesn’t focus on losing weight or getting organized. Let’s resolve to do something different this year. Let’s work on authenticity. Let’s be more ourselves.

One way to catch ourselves fitting into “the mold” and “going with the crowd” is to pay attention to our shoulds.

Interestingly, another way to catch ourselves being inauthentic is to pay attention to the times when we’re anxious, depressed or triggered by old trauma. You see, when we are not ourselves, we aren’t in our own flow. We lose our rhythm and our unselfconsciousness. I use this as an indicator in therapy. Most of the time when I sit in a session I am unaware of myself. If I become self-conscious, I know I’m “working” from the wrong place, trying to please the client, or saying things that are perhaps a universal truth but not my truth. An example would be laughing t a joke which actually violates something in which we believe.

Richard Rohr (and many others) talk about the false self/true self. The false self is the “image” we present to the world. The false self is our roles, our rules, our public face and persona. One of the ways we can tell we’re living out of our false self, in addition to the language of the shoulds and the awareness of self-consciousness, is when we are offended. The true self cannot be offended. The true self is authentic and at ease with itself. So when the true self hears itself being judged or criticized it means nothing. Again I’ll remind you of one of Steve Perkins favorite sayings: “What other people think about me is none of my business.”

So three ways to think about becoming more real, as The Velveteen Rabbit advised. Someone said, “When you get to heaven God is only going to ask you one question: Why weren’t you more yourself.” The totally unique snowflake we each are is not an accident, many wise people believe. We are created for our uniqueness and our differentness. Someone near and dear to me frequently calls me “odd.” It never occurred to me before that that is actually a compliment.

Next Saturday is January 6th, Epiphany, the day the Wise Men arrive and one of my favorite days of the year. We’re going to talk about T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Fourth Magi.” We’ll talk about finding and following our own North Star. We’ll also see what wisdom the fourth magi has for us.

Happy New Year, dear friends. How blessed we are to be celebrating the passing of another year and the promise and potential of the year to come.

Love, Susan


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? HOPE? Epiphanies for Epiphany

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Judy lanfranchi  |  December 30, 2017 at 9:19 AM

    Shoulda woulda coulda- be gone!! A fine way to begin a new year ! Thank you Susan ❤️


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