The world constantly wants us to fit in. Striving for the success defined by others, we face the challenge of being the persons we truly are. 4 ways to return to our true essence
A monkey or a lion?
At the school of my children, sometimes they put a proverb or a saying at the entrance. One day I read this: “A lion that imitates a lion is a monkey’. I remember asking myself: “What if you were a monkey? Should you imitate a lion, or should you stay as a monkey?”
Have you ever compared yourself to others? Doubted of you doing wrong to be different from other folks? Thought that you need to be fixed, not worthy enough?
The world constantly wants us to fit in. Being human living in society, we face all the challenges of being the persons we truly are. And this challenge is even more paramount when we are faced with failures, or difficulties, either in work or in a relationship.
The real question is: Dare you to be a monkey in the world of lions? Dare you to be yourself in a place where people appreciate the qualities of a lion, not a monkey, like you? Where your uniqueness in the world is not necessarily recognized for its fair values?
Way to success – are we missing out on the important thing?
Everybody wants success. And sometimes, we get so lost in the midst of this journey to achieve what people approve, that we miss out on the important things. We can even be tempted to let go of our true essence to become someone we are not.
Success does not need to be what people tell you it is. I went a long way to be able to adopt this idea. Do you too? Because society puts so much pressure on money and power. Throughout human history, most of the worst things happened because of these two.
I have never gone up high on the corporate ladder. Being a manager is my maxi. For a long time, I was doubting myself. Today sitting to write these lines, I recognize that I never got so high, simply because I am a person who does not like power over other people, nor money. I never really “tried” it so hard to have these. How many times did I doubt myself: Am I not good enough? Am I not ambitious enough? Am I lacking this motivation that makes the success of others?
This Saturday, we went to a Luna New Year’s party. I met again a friend, my old boss, the time I worked for the United Nations almost 15 years ago. The person is always in his same career. I remember changing my jobs very often, did many different things. For sure, I had so much pleasure of it, experiencing new things. But the price was, I never got so high in any of these careers, because I didn’t stay long enough.
This morning, preparing breakfast for my daughter, I couldn’t help asking myself: Why can’t I be like others? Is there something wrong with me? And at this moment in time, I know the answer. It is very simple. “Accept myself”. Because there are values in my own beingness.
Why trying to be someone else does not do you good?
Every now and then, we face this identity crisis: Am I worthy? Why am I different? Why do people doubt of me, and I of myself? And sometimes, in order to achieve what others expected of us, we try to be someone else. But here are the reasons why it does not bring you true success.
- You lose a lot of energy: Yes, trying to be someone else will simply take from you so much effort. Don’t like networking, while everybody is telling you that you’re not going anywhere in a career without networking? I remember the pressure on my heart hearing this. We don’t feel good, do we? When we think we should be something that somebody is expecting of us. Many of us got burnout because we tried too hard. We did not work on something that came naturally as an enjoyment.
- You can’t excel: I remember experiencing the corporate world. Many people had eventually some success, by pushing on others, trying to be more “visible”, trying to “communicate”. But think about some most influential people in the world that you know. They are not corporate fun characters who pushed on others to come up. Their inspiration is bigger than the corporate ladder or “success”. Without being our true selves, we can’t simply have fun in what we do and enjoy doing. Naturally, we can’t inspire others and excel in it.
- You don’t feel joy: You can achieve success and approval from others, but an inner joy might be missing when you’re already there at the top of what you want. You don’t feel that ease, being true and honest with yourself. Simply, your worthiness comes from others’ evaluations.
Success in life and career: 4 ways to love yourself
How will you answer the question of “lion versus monkey”? I believe that the monkey must love himself and his own qualities to be able to dare to be himself in the world of lions. Yes, your uniqueness is recognized firstly by yourself before others can recognize it. Dare to be a monkey, and show the world how a monkey can bring values by many of its capacities that a lion can’t.
But how to love ourselves enough, to dare the essence of what we are? There are 4 things you can start today.
Recognize that your uniqueness brings values
Don’t you think that the world is good only made of lions? The same for becoming someone you are not. It’s a great injustice for the society. “The world needs more you”, said Aisosa Lebarty. “The world already has too many fakes. It is counting on you to embrace your uniqueness and dare to make a difference. You owe it to yourself to stand out from the crowd, reject what doesn’t reflect your personality and uphold what is right and fair”.
Recognizing this fact is the first step to embrace yourself.
Connect with like-minded people
Likes attract likes. If you dare to be true, you will find out many people think and are the same as you. It was amazing, how I discovered this. For a long time, I did not dare to show my interests in meditation, because people around me thought it was a kind of sectarian or religious activity. But when I did dare to do it, I discovered millions of like-minded people.
So if there is one thing I can share, here it is. The fact that you are surrounded by people who do not appreciate your values does not mean you are not worthy. Surround yourself by the people who believe in what you believe, and connect with like-minded people, you will bring yourself confidence.
When asked by an adolescent, “How do I love myself”, zen master Thich Nhat Hanh said: “Firstly, you breathe in mindfully. And you are aware that you have a body […] You rediscover that your body is a wonder. It’s the masterpiece of the cosmos. In every cell of your body, you can recognize the presence of your ancestors. Not only human ancestors but animal, plant and mineral ancestors. And all your ancestors are still alive in your body, with their weaknesses, and their strengths […] You are made of sunshine, fresh air, and freshwater… ”
So yes, with the breath, we discover the worthiness of ourselves, which is as broad as the cosmos. Breathe mindfully, and take yourself back to a mind of calmness, to the true essence of our life, away from the agitating world. Discover how it’s a wonder to be yourself simply.
Do what makes you feel good
How to know if you are yourself? You feel good. Yes, without the effort to be somebody else than yourself, you have ease in what you do. Give yourself a moment today to do what you love to do. What makes you feel good. Even it means that you’re not doing what you usually do, or with people you are usually with. “If someone or something does not make you feel good, cut it loose because life is too short” (Fani Stipkovic). Well, it depends on the circumstance, but what I am trying to say is, give ourselves a chance. Will you think about it?
The world constantly wants us to fit in. Striving for the success defined and approved by others, we face all the challenges of being the persons we truly are. Start today 4 ways to love ourselves, and return to our true essence. Recognize first that our uniqueness brings values to the world. Surround yourself by people who believe in you. Practice mindful breathing to re-discover the connection of yourself with the whole cosmos. And follow your heart, do what make you feel good. You join me today?