What if there was only one you?
When I ask this question of the women in my life–clients, colleagues, or friends–it inevitably results in an invitation to close the gaps. Sometimes there are small things. For example, one client stopped coloring her hair, and another one stopped straightening her unruly locks. Still another changed her profile picture to the “real” her, which includes an extra 30 pounds.
They begin to whisper about their needs, and schedule some alone time for spiritual exploration or creativity, and the occasional girls night out. Some start telling their children about dreamy experiences they had a million years ago, and about how they still want to get back on stage, behind a piano, or in the classroom. They start pulling together the two–the woman and the mother–in search of a new way of being, a way to be a whole woman.
Sometimes, it takes something far more intense to close the gap–leaving a relationship with a friend, family member, or partner, is among the most extraordinary. It might mean coming out of the closet, or the rest of the way out of the closet. It may mean going back to school to become the thing you wanted to be when you were little. You know the thing, the dream you gave up because they didn’t think you could do it.
What if they were wrong?
This process, whether it’s life coaching or another of the many paths back to our truth, is about figuring out who we are, accepting what we find out about ourselves, and adjusting (if necessary) so that our inside and outside worlds are in alignment with one another.
What would it be like if you only had to be one you no matter where you were, and who you were with? What if the one you are with your friends and the one you are with your children where the same? What if you could be the same person at work as you are at home? What if the people you interact with online (if you do that) knew what was really going on inside your home, or your body, or your head?
Is there a gap?
It used to be that when someone asked how I was, I mindlessly responded with what I thought they expected to hear, “Great! How are you?” Then someone called me on it, I believe it was my life coach (ironically). She said, “How can you always be great at the beginning of our conversation and then spend our time time together working on the very real challenges you’re experiencing? You don’t sound like life actually feels that great. I wonder if you think I have an expectation that you will be great… I want you to know that when I ask how you are, I sincerely want to know how you really are.”
I wasn’t a life coach then but I was pretty sure that she was calling b.s. on my “Great! How are you?” It was gentle and respectful but clear. You don’t have to put on that front here, Christy. In time, I figured out that I don’t have to put on that front anywhere and I don’t. Ever.
When asked how I am, I pause to check in and then answer honestly. If I’m a little tired, I will say that I’m a little tired. If I’m awesome, I will say that I’m awesome. Whether I’m excited, scared, sad, giddy, nervous, overwhelmed, bored, or whatever else I might be inside, I don’t want to lie to the outside world about it.
Being honest doesn’t mean I have to tell all my business to the nice woman who is checking me out at the grocery store but it does mean that I’m not going to betray myself for someone out there to remain more comfortable.
And if you don’t want to know, don’t ask. Find somebody else with a smile on her mouth and nothing in her eyes and ask how she is. I bet she’ll tell you what you want to hear.
Being honest when someone asks how you are is just a tiny example of how we can honor our truth instead of putting on a big show all the time. Every trip to the big show takes us further and further from our truth. If you answer for the outsiders often enough, eventually you forget to even notice what’s happening on the inside… and that’s not just a crisis in the making, it’s a crisis.
And a note on codependency: If you aren’t tending your inside because you’re too occupied with what the outside world thinks about you and striving to be who you think they want you to be, who is going to take care of your inside? Your partner? Your peers? Your boss? Your children?
If you’re so busy being the perfect whatever, then who is the person in your world who is willing to sacrifice their own inside tending to make sure that your insides are okay?
“But, but, but… ,” the voice in your head might be screaming right now. Yes, we’ve met before. The answer is no. It’s not any one’s job to tend your insides. When we expect others, especially our children, to tend our business, we make it impossible for them to have a healthy relationship with their own inner world.
(And for the record, if you try to outsource it, the other people are going to suck at that job. Your insides are not their insides. It won’t work.)
Tending your inside is your job and if you’re not doing it very well, it’s time to back off some of the other assignments and refocus on your business. What is the magic living within you that’s dying to live out here? You (the real you, that is) are an amazing creature. The world needs you. It doesn’t need the illusion. We need the real you–the one who feels and wants and dreams and needs. Are you willing to let her come out and play?