I'm just gonna say it. Most of us are not whole. We're walking around as hastily crafted, Scotch-taped versions of ourselves. We're working in organizations and displaying the face we think people want to see of us that's the complete antithesis of who we are or what we believe. We're entering into relationships with people who are just as broken foolishly expecting some miraculous outcome. We're raising children who view their parents as annoying aunts and uncles who true messiahs are the Kardashians and the Housewives or the gaming masters on Twitch. Is this the fault of the world in aggregate? Nope. It all filters back to the most important person in your life. YOU.
I coach and counsel people from all walks of life and the #1 issue I'm addressing these days is a complete lack of self awareness. We've become so obsessed with social media and projecting an image of "everything's great" and "witness my perfect life" that we're literally ignoring the fact that it's complete bullshit. Sure, that picture of your new Mercedes is impressive and garnered enough likes to give you a pretty healthy dose of dopamine. The reality, however, is it's leased. And at a rate that actually puts you in enough of a precarious financial situation for the next year that you can't even afford an airline ticket home to visit your aging parents without going further into the red. Facebook-1. You-0.
Living beyond our means is one indicator of not being whole. Obsessing over other people's perceptions and opinions of us is another. I believe we all have a responsibility to ourselves, specifically, to show up as authentic representations of who we are. Unabashedly. Not seeking acceptance, only respect. Not striving for assimilation, only an opportunity to show up, be ourselves, do our best work and keep it moving. What's happening, however, is people are showing up as someone they're not. They're masking insecurity with bravado. They're dressing in clothes that send a message not of their own choosing. They're talking too much and listening too little. They're loud or a little too friendly to hide the fact that they're scared as hell and in way over their heads.
Authenticity isn't accessory. It's too important to who we are and to being whole as individuals. We need to obsess over it, not conveniently pack it away in order to feed our obsession with likes and heart emojis. That's not living. At least not in reality. And our ability to navigate reality determine our success avoiding all of the typical pitfalls like pain, failure and disappointment.
So how does one "get whole?"
Start from scratch. Take the time to do a painfully honest audit of your life. Try this:
Audit your relationship with social media. Is it honest and truthful? Am I truly the person I'm projecting to the world? Is my need to constantly take and post selfies simply hiding the fact that I'm lonely and under socialized? Do I actually like people's posts because I agree with what they're saying or to stay relevant in their eyes? Do I embellish the truth or do I keep it 100?
Audit your personal relationships. Are these people truly my friends? How many have actually rescued me in some way when I've sent out the call? Is the person I'm with truly onboard with my dreams or is this a convenience or vanity play? Do the people in my inner circle make me better or keep me wallowing in a sea of sameness?
Audit your personal beliefs. Are my opinions my own or am I still coveting the opinions my parents drilled into me for years at the dinner table? Have I given up the ability to think for myself and have a dissenting opinion for fear of confrontation or having to defend my point of view? Have I considered the counterpoint to something I hold dear for longer than a few minutes and actually sought out a different opinion to mine in an effort to validate how I feel? Do I actually feel this way or have I willfully booked a ticket on the same boat everyone else is on because that's just what you do?
Ask yourself the hard questions. Am I happy? Have I built a life that I'm proud of or is there more work to do? Am I my true self when I meet someone new or am I giving them the idealized version? Do I actually hate what my life has become? If I could start over tomorrow and wipe the slate clean would that be better than suffering with the life I'm currently living? Do I even want to be in this town or in this relationship or at this company? Am I a fraud and if so how can I fix it?
Get help from a professional. Sometimes it just helps to hear a voice that isn't your own. That can take many forms. But I highly recommend getting help. That could be a coach or a psychologist or just a wise aunt or uncle who loves you, but will tell it like it is. I was anti "shrink" until I got one. And he single-handedly stopped the bleeding and years of bumping my head against the wall. Now I coach others using many of the methods my coach taught me and hours of training and certifications to help others calm all of the noise and battles going on inside their heads and get back to the basics. Often, that's all we need.
Find some nature and make it "a thing"...consistenly. I honestly believe that 99% of our problems can be solved simply by turning off the tv, getting in the car, and taking a hike up a mountain and back. Being in nature gives us the opportunity to observe, not fix or add to conversations. It's a truly individual experience that puts us in tune with the fact that we're still just animals who did a little too much with our big ass brains. Nature is the great equalizer and the best coach or shrink you could ever have. And it's free! Stopping to pluck a wildflower and admire its color and shape. Hearing the birds communicate and wondering what their lives must be like day to day. Watching the clouds slowly move across the sky, sometimes shading the sun just enough to create the perfect symbiosis of warmth, the breeze, and light. Making a nature walk part of your routine allows a different part of your brain to take over. It allows you to process through things that may have been bothering you for a short time, but eventually render them unimportant it the grand scheme. It helps bring everything into perspective and help you determine what's important and what simply isn't. And when you return to your life you're able to make decisions and changes that align with the simplicity and authenticity that nature provides us.
Getting whole takes a tremendous amount of introspection. It also takes a tremendous amount of honesty with ourselves and with other people. It takes courage to tell the truth and often requires that we hurt some feelings or move on from people who no longer serve our best interests. But it's important work that yields insane results once we start building the muscles through consistency and courage. When we are whole there is nothing or no one who can stop us. We have no secrets. We have no obsessions, especially with things that don't serve us or aren't authentic. And we can march through life confidently knowing that we're completely self-aware and always representing ourselves truthfully and authentically.
Social media is the devil. It has changed society for the worst and has negatively affected millions of people in the worst way possible. Getting us to doubt who we are and present to the world the most idealized, embellished version of ourselves on a daily basis. It's not truth. It's not authentic. And it will eventually consume you and make you actually believe your own lies.
Get whole. Get honest. Get help. And get back to nature. Do it for YOU. Nobody else. And get back to being the most truthful, authentic person you know yourself to be. And present that to the world. Post those pictures. You'll be shocked at how little anxiety you'll feel and the tremendous amount of respect you get from everyone you come into contact with. Especially the ones who are authentic and completely self-aware just like you.