Life is so simple that the answer has been hiding plain site.
Tears streamed down my face and met the paper milestoning the words I wrote. “No more” with the “o” my wedding ring. I had known that for a long time my marriage wasn’t even a good one, and this was not about the marriage at all, it was about me. I realized I had let my identity go and had self-sacrificed and done everything that was humanely possible to keep something afloat that should have sunk long ago. What I had done was forgot the answer to the question we spend each moment trying to understand. Regardless of what it is, all matters boil down to “Who am I?”
Unfortunately, I gradually lost that when I got married. I was just like many out there, hoping that the one I loved or the cool promotion at work, or the shiny new car or whatnot would provide meaning and validation. That the new post on Facebook would get likes and shares so I could get a validation fix. The divorce was a gift. I deconstructed and became reborn. I recreated me.
This was my second foray into reconstituting my identity. This time, I think it whithered away with marriage, I self-sacrificed for the better good of a marriage that I didn’t want to fail. In doing so, I betrayed the one person that had been through thick and thin, me. When I wrote those words “no more,” I committed to myself to never forget who I was. Here are the vows I made to myself.
Put the Ring on Your Own Finger
Your loved one can’t give you your identity. Your job can’t identify you. They can’t complete you. You are already complete, smelly socks and all. You have to look at the person you see in the mirror and commit to loving that person no matter what, flaws, imperfections, and quirks intact. They are as “you” as your strengths are. De-heroify the world and the people in it, and allow them to be imperfect as we know they are. This isn’t a narcissistic obsession, it’s an appreciation and honoring of your life and who you are.
Find Your Own Way
We are so inundated on what to do, how to do it and persuaded on why we need to do it. People shower us with advice. Books, courses and seminars inundate our email and Facebook feeds. These tools are great, ignorance is not bliss but what gets lost in translation is that these tools need to be modified by who we are and what we are about. Bruce Lee, eloquently stated, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
By knowing who I truly was, I added elements to practices that I had struggled with (health, fitness, career, playing guitar). I saw great breakthroughs in all. It was the missing element. The one magical thing that is missing from others’ advice. They don’t know you like you know you. I recently had Gretchen Rubin on my Blisshacker Radio podcast, and we talked about hacking happiness with habits. One of the major takeaways was that every instance we try to implement a habit, we should make sure we do a deep dive on who we are and also every instance is unique. There is truth to that; we are always growing, and the “Who am I ” question’s answer is always evolving. This explains why you can do so well during one diet “cycle” and lose weight. Then further down the line perhaps after an amazing vacation reimplement the same habit is nearly impossible. We’ve changed and yet we expect the habits to be re-implementable as they were.
How many of us are truly authentic? Do we allow ourselves the ability to express all the emotions we have fully, or are we hiding under a stoic shell? Are we self-sacrificing for the “greater good”, for the “marriage”, for the “kids”, for the “career” or even worse for a “rainy day”? You need to listen to you. If you are angry, be angry. You weren’t meant to be a plastic happy automaton like you are out of some distorted fifties sitcom. Be blissful.
Blissful has nothing to do with happiness. Blissful has nothing to do with mindfulness, living in the present moment or being positive. Mindfulness, meditation, flow state are techniques and tools. All of these are to be adapted. Buddha alluded that these techniques are like a raft that will take you to another shore and once you arrive you will no longer need the raft again. It’s quite simple and profound what you need to do. Be authentic. Mindfulness, meditation, and other techniques are an excellent starter, but I think what happens is we see some sort of never ending gap. Oh, I need to be “more mindful.” Maybe if I add ten minutes extra a day, I will master meditation. I will master mindfulness. Zen is mastery of self, not mastery of some technique. The techniques are just illusions to the one true mastery, the answer of the question “Who am I?”.
Life is so simple that the answer has been hiding plain site. We are human beings. We have to honor ourselves. We have to find our way and continue to the journey of discovering who we are. We just have to “be.”
Photo: Flickr/ Image Catalog