It is easier to try
to be better
than you are
than to be
who you are.
How does this land with you?
When you think of all the trying, struggling, maneuvering, hustling you do to be “better” than you are, how does it feel?
Just writing about trying feels exhausting.
If trying feels exhausting, why is Woodman saying that trying to be better than who you are is easier than being who you are?
- Trying to be better is easier than being because it’s supported by the message we receive in almost every area of our life — “You must be more, have more, do more!”
- Trying to be better is easier than being because being is hard to understand with the mind, perhaps suspect or selfish, and certainly not on the list of what makes a person “successful.”
- Trying to be better is easier than being because it’s what we know.
When I am trying to be better than I am, the unspoken message I’m delivering to myself is that — in my present state — I don’t measure up.
Other words for not measuring up are unworthy, less valuable, not good enough.
Are these the messages you want to send to yourself?
Here are some of the reasons we engage in trying to be better than who we are:
- To get the approval of another person or a community.
- To be liked by . . . . everyone.
- To be loved.
- To be admired.
- To be thought of as attractive, or successful, or “nice.”
- To improve our own opinion of ourselves, because we feel so defective.
One of the hidden consequences of this common way of moving through life is that we spend so much time trying to be better than who we are that we have no idea who we are!
Imagine what it would feel like to be who you are in every moment. For most of us that would be like visiting another planet, or at least a very exotic foreign country.
One of the ways to be who you are in every moment is to begin paying close attention to what you are sensing, thinking, feeling, and what is happening around you.
One morning earlier this week I woke up at 4 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I was feeling anxious, and my mind was doing what the mind does — catastrophizing, awfulizing, and future-tripping.
When I had had enough of my own mind games, I started paying attention to what my inner voice was telling me.
I followed the prompts of this inner knowing, doing the next thing I got an intuitive hunch to do. I followed each prompt until the experience or the activity felt complete for me, and then I moved on to the next inner prompt.
It was such an interesting experience of flow, and release.
When it was complete, I had a sense that I had done a big piece of inner work, with very little effort.
This is just one example of what it can mean to be who you are.
Imagine how it might have unfolded very differently if I woke up at 4 am and thought, “It’s too early, you shouldn’t be up right now. You should go back to bed [even though I wasn’t tired at all]. You need to go back to sleep or you’re going to be a wreck today!”
Can you feel the “trying to be better” in this hypothetical argument with reality/being?
Do you have a sense of what it means to be who you are? If you do, grab it and hold on tight.
The experience of simply being you requires dropping the small “S” self — with all her ideas of good and bad, right and wrong, better than and less than — and instead, going inside to discover your inner compass and guide.
The shift from trying to be better to being who you are doesn’t mean you don’t want to improve your life or your experience— after all, shifting from trying to being in itself is a desire to be different.
But what distinguishes learning how to be who you are from trying to be different than who you are, are the painful inescapable feelings of grasping, striving, and clinging that go with efforting and trying.
You are invited: Be Who You Are.
Invitations for reflection, exploration, and action:
- How am I trying to be better than who I am in all aspects of my life — as a partner, sister, mother, friend, business owner?
- How would my experience be different if I shifted into being myself in these areas?
- Is there something that stops me from abandoning trying to be better than I am? If so, what is it?
© Vicki Tidwell Palmer (2021)
Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul (©1998)
By Marion Woodman and Jill Mellick
(Reprinted with permission)
*This post is from the Coming Home to You Series. Visit this page for the backstory of the CHTY Series.