“Who you aren’t isn’t interesting.” Spiritual Teacher, Rob Bell’s words hit me like a blow in the chest, compelling me to decipher what this phrase really meant. Through decoding this phrase, I discovered the statement’s eloquent simplicity which led me to better defining and accepting myself.
“Who am I?” A rather simple question that can lead you through a maze of different doors, all of which need to be opened. The quest in defining myself was focused on understanding who I was and ignoring who I was told to be. Many of us are told who we should be, what we should watch, how we should dress, who we should date, how we should talk, and more. For me, there was always a mental stagecoach directing me and telling me to remember my lines, my role, and to wear my costume. I realized that having a Knowledge of self was the most important piece of information I could obtain as everything was contingent on me: my career, relationships, aspirations, health, and more. Since I am the focal point of every action that takes place in my life, it was essential that I had a full grasp of who I was.
The steps to self-knowledge are not brief nor are they easy. Through writing down and honestly analyzing your personal qualities, you can hone in on your exceptional areas and areas that require improvement. The worst person you can lie to is yourself so this exercise requires unadulterated honesty. By accepting yourself, you can move towards improving your life. Improvement is based on small changes done consistently. Through accepting yourself and improving your life, you will begin to love yourself. By being honest with yourself daily, working towards improving who you are daily, and showing up for yourself daily, the mask that society forced you to adopt will feel ill-fitted. You must be there and show up for yourself every day.
Self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and self-love flow into what is called self-actualization, which means BEING YOU. BEING YOU is the final step in this process of discovering your greatest treasure, which is yourself. A few helpful methods in acting on who you are, are determining, joining, and/or creating spaces that showcase your talents, interests, and skills. You must first determine your attributes, join an organization/club where you can apply and develop your attributes. You also have the ability to generate your own creative space. No matter what, these environments must feed your spirit.
“What is interesting?” Simple answer: You are interesting. Being interesting is not about appealing to the ideas of what others think is interesting. Unfortunately, there were many times when I was around people and their interests and goals were almost identical to other people. Have you ever talked with someone and you asked them about their life or aspirations and it was as if they were reciting a script? The regurgitation of the same bland lines will start to erode your own creative energy if you allow it. Write your own script and let it serve as a blueprint for you to fulfill your life’s vision.
Being interesting is accepting and valuing your own interests. By valuing your own interests, you will begin to create time to explore your interests and create spaces where you can enhance your knowledge in those areas.
“Who you are not” is not intriguing. There are so many things in this life that you are, that there is no time to think about what you are not. It’s not empowering to continuously focus on what you do not have, how you do not look, where you have not gone, how you have not accomplished this goal or that goal, etc. There is so much more to you than what you are not. Be an active agent in your own happiness and success. Why be your own enemy and bully yourself?
Discovering, loving, and being yourself is a lifelong, cyclical process but it’s important to start where you are now. Start now.
Today, give up what you are not to be who you are to become who you want to be (Tip: I wrote this on a small piece of paper and I keep it in my wallet and I look at it anytime I need a reminder — give it a try :).
“How to reboot your life with the Japanese philosophy of Ikigai | Rob Bell”. Big Think. April 14, 2018, YouTube.
Photo Credit: “Common Mistakes: Proposals (Learning to Let Go)”. PrestonBailey.com. January 27, 2011.