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BE YOURSELF, EVERYONE ELSE IS ALREADY TAKENPosted Tuesday, June 2, 2009, at 9:46 AM
By Lisa Earle McLeod
Do you ever feel like you're just faking it?
You know, walking around in a grown-up body acting like you know what you're doing, when really you have no idea who you are inside.
We all play act. We don a suit, go to work and act like the other people at the office.
We get married, have kids, buy a house and join the PTA, yet secretly wonder if the other grown-ups feel just as clueless as we do.
We frequently put so much energy into being who we think we should be that we forget who we actually are.
It's amazing how much of our identity is tied up in the roles that we play. We often assume that because our job title reads VP of Development, church secretary or head widget maker, that's the net sum of identify.
But talk to anyone who has lost their job, or their savings (or worse) and they'll tell you, you are not your job description. Nor are you your home, your bank account, or even your body.
Like it or not, the angst of our times is forcing us to do some serious soul searching, yet the person we often the most afraid of discovering is our real authentic self.
In his newest book, "Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken," author Mike Robbins writes, "We live in a culture that is starving for authenticity. We want our leaders, our co-workers, our family members, our friends, and everyone else we interact with to tell the truth and to be themselves."
But beyond wanting others to be authentic we also want permission to drop our own masks as well. Robbins (www.mike-robbins.com) says, "We want to have the personal freedom and confidence to say, do and be who we really are, without worrying so much about how we appear to others and what they will think or say about us."
"Sadly, however," he writes, "even though we may say we want to live in a way that is true to our deepest passions, beliefs and desire, most of us don't."
Busted. (And you thought it was just you!)
How many of us can honestly say that we're living a life that is 100 percent true to our values? Much less the inner yearnings of our souls?
The sentiment, "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken" was originally penned by famous nineteenth century author and poet Oscar Wilde. But the words resonate in today's environment.
I would never minimize anyone's money woes, or other suffering, but perhaps with some of our outer trappings stripped away, we've been given the opportunity to discover who we are inside. The prospect is both scary and exciting. Robbins says that, "the paradox of authenticity is that we both seek it and fear it at the same time."
What if I reveal who I really am and nobody likes it?
But then again, what if Mike Robbins and Oscar Wilde are right? What if all the other roles are taken? What if there's nobody left to be but yourself?
It's a tough call, you can keep on faking it, which is even harder to if you're anxious and broke. Or you can decide that there really is only one you, and that you're already good enough, smart enough, and tough enough to handle whatever the Universe sends your way.
So just be you, it's cheaper, it's easier, and you don't even need a costume.
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I can't take any more. The economy is tanking, the election is endless, and now it looks like I might have to sell my blood if I want to keep my kids in mac 'n cheese. Oh, and did I mention that, thanks to falling house prices, I probably owe more on my home than it's actually worth? I want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and have somebody wake me up when my 401(k) bounces back. I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself so jittery about, well everything, that it's all I can do to surf the net. Kind of ironic, isn't it? I should be working more, but I'm so anxious about my finances that I'm actually working less. Alas, such is the world of grown-ups - stress, anxiety, depression. And to think that I wasted much of my childhood wishing I could be in charge of my own life. Why in the heck did I ever think that was a good idea? Give me a few cookies, a blankey and a nice place to lie down and I swear I'll never complain about an early bedtime again. These are tough times indeed. Even if you're still OK, you'd have to be one cold, hard, rich person to stay immune to all the angst in the air. So how do you cope? How do you get through today when you're so worried about tomorrow that you can't see straight? I overheard a news commentator say that people are thinking twice before they go out to eat or buy new clothes. I'm guessing that those are the people who still have jobs. Because the people without jobs aren't spending a nickel on anything except cheap carbs and keeping a roof over their heads. Yet as depressing as our collective and individual situations may be, the last thing we need to do is let our fear get the best of us. If you spend all day quaking and anxious, guess who wins? The fear. Yes, I know FDR had a roof over his head when he said "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," but he was right. Every moment you waste paralyzed with fear is a moment you could be doing something, or resting up so that you can do something tomorrow. It's been said that there are only two emotions, love and fear, and all the other emotions are derivatives of those. So I'd like to make a suggestion. Let's chose love. Let's decide to love each other and to love ourselves, no matter what happens. And if you're really a Pollyanna, perhaps you'll join me in deciding to love the fact that this crisis is serving as a call for us to become our better selves; a call for us to look within and rid ourselves of consumerism, greed and the need to keep up with the Jones; and a call for us to have more empathy for those who are struggling. Maybe this is a chance for all of us - and I include myself - to decide that we love our country and we love our fellow human beings more than we love our stuff. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey. But you don't change your circumstances until you change the thoughts that created them. Cowering under the covers in fear may feel safer. But in a crisis, the truly powerful response is love. (c) Copyright 2008, by Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved. Lisa Earle McLeod is a keynote speaker, author and nationally syndicated columnist. Her books include "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.
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