It’s a tricky balance – staying true to yourself and pathfinding your way through life in a way that feels right and good for you, whilst also staying open to guidance and help from others.
Or in how to reach out for a community of likeminded individuals who will support and encourage you, whilst not succumbing to ‘groupthink’ or narrow mindedness. How to keep your individuality and independence, yet be connected and have a sense of belonging?
Following my small but impactful mindshift, which I described in this post, I’ve been playing around with this ebb and flow between being apart or part, and how I can move it from being an either/or choice to being both. Tony Robbins expresses these as two of the six basic human needs – that of the need for significance, and for connection.
An apparent paradox of being unique, but part of more.
I’m seeing increasingly, how objectively and dispassionately observing myself helps me to reconcile these two outwardly contradictory forces.
I notice how it’s often my desire to belong and be connected that has me ‘joining’ things or signing up, and then my realisation that I’m not the same causing me to drop away (sometimes hurt and disappointed, or feeling rejected).
Let me give an example.
A few years ago now, I was profoundly affected and inspired by a couple of NLP ‘immersion’ events I attended (NOT Tony Robbins I hasten to add, even though I’ve just referenced him, but of that ilk).
I got what felt like really important breakthroughs, insights and learning.
It felt like ‘the answer’, and I was swept along by the powerful shared experience and energy of the community at those events. I had the enthusiasm of the newly converted and couldn’t wait to share my experience with anyone who cared to listen.
And, it must be said, I was able to really help a number of clients through what I learned. But over time I found my enthusiasm waning and some doubts growing in my mind.
A little bit like new shoes that look and feel so amazing in the shop, but after walking around in them for a few miles you soon find where they rub! And let’s be clear, for someone else wearing those shoes they may be a perfect fit; or, you may find after breaking in the shoes become the most comfortable you’ve ever had.
But I realised for me, even after a good few miles, NLP just didn’t fit the shape of my feet!
And part of me was sad, because I liked the look and being part of a ‘crowd’ all proudly wearing the same shoes, but it’s no good pretending to be someone you’re not.
I’d even wanted to sell those shoes, but how could I do that with integrity if I could only show my potential clients blisters?
So I went back to more comfortable footwear.
If I stay with the metaphor, I found that my feet were stronger and in better shape than they were before I’d tried on the NLP shoes, so I hadn’t really lost anything and gained some benefit, but I still knew if I’d stayed trying to force my feet in those shoes much longer I would have done myself more lasting damage.
Of course, there are now those who would reject me or try to prove me wrong because I’m no longer a ‘true believer’. But that’s ok, I can accept and understand that those people have found something meaningful and beautiful that suits them, and really don’t want the doubt of others spoiling the effect.
And it frees me to seek connection with people prepared to embrace difference.
I want a tribe of independent thinkers, who may provoke, influence and sometimes make me uncomfortable, but who are accepting and curious rather than judging. Because that’s how I’d like to be too; just the same, but different!