Get to know you, for the real you to shine through, reminds Davina Greene.
How much of you do we see? From observing your actions – how you spend your time, who you spend your time with… – would I truly know you? If I asked the people you spend most time with to talk to me about you, how ‘right’ would they get it?
Many of us spend a huge portion of our lives working, and while some are in their dream jobs, many are not. Many live in great psychological discomfort, carrying that feeling that they become a different person between 9am and 5pm, kind of like Superman spinning around in a phone booth, putting on a whole new ‘costume’ when going through those revolving doors – a costume that, in addition, takes a little time to take off once you get home. Just last week, one hard worker said to me “Davina, my soul feels a little bit dead”. Who wants to live like that, when there is an alternative?
If your spirit, your essence, is not in fitting with however you spend your time – in work or otherwise – then it is understandable that you might not be operating at your peak, or even feeling good at a basic level. Who are you? What type of person are you? What could you introduce into your life to demonstrate it? Remember, if your formal work is what’s sapping your soul, that doesn’t mean to say that it’s your employer’s job to come up with a solution (if they’re already providing a relatively pleasant – or, at least, inoffensive – work environment). I don’t believe that your life has to be so integrated into work that companies rebuild themselves around you; however, it seems right that aspects of your personality can shine through. Remember, you have to decide your role in life, play it, and play it well. Nobody else is supposed to do that for you.
How do people try to balance out the discomfort of feeling a bit soul-less? In my experience, some try pretense – pretending to be an expert, pretending to be resilient, pretending to enjoy managing people, pretending to enjoy the industry they work in…In effect, they re-market themselves as if I, the observer, am the most important person in the equation. Fake it until everyone else thinks the person matches the circumstance hand-in-glove. Which simply sounds, to me, like the very worst understanding of the whole Positivity movement: the head-in-sand approach.
Alternatively, I meet people who try to cram so much into their life that, in the end, none of it has any substance and they learn little about soul from the exercise, as everything has its timetable, its slot, and there’s no room for exploration or adventure – there’s no real depth of time, energy or interest allocated. Ticking boxes, copying others’ activities, grabbing at perceived entitlements, making sure not to fall behind the Program of Life Activities that has been set somewhere, somehow, by someone else. That’s all surface-level, sticky-plaster solutioning, and of little long-term use.
Be confident that, if your closest friends and colleagues met and compared notes, they’d very much feel like they were talking about the same person. We adapt to different circumstances, sure – most job descriptions demand awareness and flexibility. But when you’re continuously playing a whole different person, that’s not right.
Some people share themselves more easily; others will state quite plainly that, no, their ‘closest friends’ possibly don’t know them very well. In the latter case, some are worried about that and some don’t mind at all. People are different, with different perspectives, and that’s just the way it is and always will be.
The other angle on that opening question: How much of you do you know? Self-knowledge is the key to it all. If you haven’t stopped to think about what has meaning for you, how can you ever plan a life that includes more of it?
Try to describe the following: Who are you?
Try to quantify the following: How alive does your soul feel?
Are you demonstrably living your values? You should be!
List the three things that make you happiest in the world. To what extent do they feature in your day-to-day life?
Ask other people what they think makes you ‘light up’. You may be surprised at what they see.
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