Distinguishing Between "You" and "Not You"
Do you wrestle with yourself over what you WANT TO DO and what you ACTUALLY DO? It may be that you have not defined YOU and accepted YOU.
Here is a truth that you may as well learn from the COACHLive! Blog: You cannot “overcome” YOU. It is more productive to learn to use YOU sustainably rather than the frustration of attempting to change YOU. A number of habits and misunderstandings exist that are NOT YOU. These can be altered. Following is some guidance to help you distinguish between YOU and NOT YOU.
YOU always find yourself in the same situation, pulled in a certain direction, engaged in a certain activity or desire. YOU want a certain reality so bad YOU can taste it. You breathe it out and wish desperately that you can inhale it in. Despite your best efforts, this desire will not leave you. YOU find yourself faced with the same lesson over and over again. This is because your life events, your environment, your relationships, your choices, and your perspective have resulted in a certain MEANING to life. This is YOU. To change YOU is to cease to be YOU.
For example, I know that I “love hard.” Once I invest in something or someone, I find it impossible to rid myself of them. I can attempt to bar them, avoid them, refuse the activity, or otherwise redirect myself, but the pattern always returns. I had to communicate plainly to myself, “Your life events, your environment, your relationships, your choices, and your perspective have resulted in YOU MUST GIVE.” Rather than warring against this fact, I have explored my motivations, learned about my desires, and constructed ways to satisfy them sustainably.
Identifying NOT YOU
“NOT YOU” is clearly evident in outcomes. But, you may be surprised to know that the outcome evidence is not in the guilt you feel. Some of that is a lack of understanding YOU. The outcome evidence is the lack of compatibility between the actions, the results of your actions, and your goals. Quick fixes, immediate gratification, words and actions without thought, betrayal of your future are NOT YOU. Temporary fixes or approximations of satisfaction like drug use, panhandle donations, or over-indulgence are NOT YOU.
For example, my exploration reveals that “YOU MUST GIVE” means that I am motivated to share in relationships. I have researched and learned that one sustainable way to consider “giving” is the economic transfer described in reciprocity. My task therefore is to construct reciprocal relationships—meaning that any “giving” on my part must carry a clear message about what I want in return. If the return is not CERTAIN, I state clearly to myself, “That is NOT YOU.”
It is YOU to satisfy your primary drives—those insistent desires. Just because YOU have met them unsustainably in the past does not mean that they should now be considered bad, evil, or NOT YOU. Change is possible. My point is that YOU, in changing YOU, would have to transform YOU into a new person. Seek help, because few are able to complete a transformation alone. For those who want to attempt this, I suggest some boarding institution like university, military, or study abroad. YOU must change all your life events, your environment, your relationships, your choices, and your perspective if you hope to change YOU.
I offer another way: accept YOU and choose to satisfy YOU sustainably. In your exploration, ask yourself tough questions. Develop clear, logical, actionable answers. Find out what YOU really want. What is the reality that would make YOU happy for the long term? No matter if it seems impossible. Honesty about YOU is so much more important.
In your research, learn new words and complete vocabulary with which to communicate and understand YOU. If giving, begin needed, satisfying others, proving yourself is YOU, economics provides a useful lexicon: exchange, reciprocity, production, distribution, consumption, cost-benefit, loss-leader, investment, efficiency, supply/demand, markets, growth, and more. If wanting to be rewarded, wanting safety or any derivative of needing from others is YOU, physics offers a useful lexicon: principle, rules/laws, inertia, matter, force, attraction/magnetism, mechanism, dynamics and more. Use these words to inform and construct choice architecture that result in sustainable movement toward your expressed goals.
For example, I have also spoken to myself, “YOU WANT PRAISE.” I have explored that this means I want to be respected for my contribution. I am disappointed when my contribution is not valued to my standards. I learned that rules (in physics) provide a foundation for calculations and assumptions about the world. I constructed a framework with rules to govern my choices toward satisfying my need for praise.
My technique is a rule: Two separate categories of contribution exist in every transaction. Disposable are contributions that are founded in your excess or time YOU specifically identify. Sacred are contributions that relate to the things YOU value the most. Never allow anyone to handle beyond what you have already decided to give away. Never allow yourself to gamble with what is sacred. And, never beat yourself up when your disposable is not revered as sacred.
This rule allows me to appreciate praise that I receive from giving of my disposable time like the work I do, coaching activities, volunteer services, etc. These I give in specified times at my pleasure. I do not give away things that I will miss when they are gone or that I cannot replace. I do not assign fault to me when those contributions of time are not valued. I gain my most consistent praise through “sacred time” spent with family and valued friends, as a contribution of myself. Whatever the topic or experience, I perceive it as praise for my presence and my unique engagement.
Explore YOU. Learn in order to best articulate YOU. Construct sustainable ways to satisfy YOU. Stop punishing yourself over things that are NOT YOU.
[A version of this article appeared July 8, 2013 on coachmethod.com]