Fitting In and Being Ourselves

So much of what we've been talking about here relates to balance, whether it's a matter of measuring out the time spent on different aspects of our lives or trying to reconcile tensions between our thoughts or desires.

Life is a constant balance of adapting to the world and maintaining integrity. It's important to be able to play well with others, yet we don't want to compromise so much that we lose our identity or feel like doormats.

One of the most tricky places to figure out this tightrope walk is in the area of religion, family attitudes, or spiritual outlook. Do we feel the way we feel because we were brought up a certain way, or because it's truly what we believe in? Are we who we are because of the inputs we've received up to this point, or in spite of them? So many people rebel against their upbringing or spend years trying to find a guru or teacher who will help them "find themselves."

Generally, we don't even ask these questions unless we're in at least some suburb of Suckville; when things are going ok we tend not to question much. Whether our current distress is an existential crisis or a relational trauma caused by someone finally pissing us off enough stake our own flag on another planet, one thing is true. As humans, we have a need to identify with something. Whether we're devoutly religious, or just studying medicine, we seem to need some way to answer the question "Who are you?"

The flip side of this, is that much of the time we want an answer; just not from ourselves. A wise teacher will lead us gently to the discovery of what we knew all along instead of handing us answers or giving us one-size-fits all advice. So how do we find these teachers? What if we're surrounded by these teachers but we don't know how to listen?

This is one of the ways in which life coaching can be useful, because it helps us sort through the voices inside and around us so that we can quiet down and pick out what's important. It's like tuning a radio to the right frequency (if we pretend we still do that instead of hitting one of presets 1-6) to find the song that pierces our heart. People can teach us things, give us information, try desperately to reach us, but nothing becomes truth until that moment that we realize that we knew it all along.

So, in the end, it doesn't really matter who's teaching us, unless they're so far off that they have no value to us whatsoever. It doesn't matter if we've been listening to them all our lives and either wish they would just shut up or let us make our own decisions. Conversely, listening to someone or making your way in a culture or family that has different values does not mean you are giving up your autonomy. As long as your antennae are raised above your own baggage, you'll do fine.