“We’re all just acting a part, so which script will serve you and the others around you the most?”
That’s how one of the chapters of Aaron Anastasi’s book end, and I wanted to start this post with that question since I think it can be a great follow up to these ‘reinventing ourselves’ series.
Recently I’ve been giving this question (and the whole chapter) a lot of thought.
On the one hand some part of me refuses this idea since if it’s true that we are all acting a role, that would mean nobody is authentic. On the other hand, reflecting on the way I’ve been acting from childhood up until now and some of my behaviors, represent a part of me that is influenced by limiting beliefs. Somehow, when I was a kid I put up a rhetorical mask that makes me act a part congruent with the story my limiting voices worked so hard to make me believe.
The worst thing is that this mask, role, mindset or identity seems so natural to us that we believe this is who we are and how we are. Let several years pass by acting that story and you won’t even recognize it as a role. We merge into that. We seem to be one with that mindset. We don’t even see it, the same way a fish it’s not aware of the water it’s living in.
What do I like so much about Aaron’s question above? It gives us hope. It suggests that we can choose which identity we want to act, one that will serve us and our loved ones better. That thought made me instantly think about the influence my behaviors and my ways of being have had on my life and specially on my loved ones.
So, if we are all acting anyway, why not choose a role based on a more resourceful story?
That thought appears to be in conflict with the idea of just being ourselves, meaning, we don’t need to become anything else, we already ARE. But for some of us we might need to rediscover who and how we really are underneath our current mask. Therefore, it might help trying different approaches, different roles until we find one that fits us, where we feel really comfortable.
Take my dad as an example. After spending the majority of his life acting the introverted role and repressing his thoughts in some situations, now being 70 he realized that he actually feels more himself by being more confronting and extroverted. That cost him some ‘apparent’ friendships, but he’s even glad that those relationships turned away.
Why wait until we are 70? We can choose right now and start enjoying all these next years of rediscovered authenticity!
I call it “The Lost & Found Game of Life”. As my dad says, at some point, when we were kids someone or something stole our ID-card and put a different ID-card on our back pocket without us noticing it. We had to adapt to that new identity (what they teach us, preach us, condition us or even force us to do) in order to get accepted in society, follow the established rules or not to disappoint anyone. But then, when we are adults, we are supposed to go find our stolen identity if we want to live a fulfilling life, being the best version of ourselves.
Somehow we need to unlearn many of the beliefs, myths, habits and attitudes that have been blocking our self-discovery.
We need to find or uncover those dormant forces and talents that Patañjali refers to on his popular quote:
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
Once we have found the identity that suits us better, we could even use our past personal story and share it with others in order to help other people with similar problems or situations.
At the end of the day, we are supposed to enjoy being who we are, right? So if for whatever reason you are not enjoying it, you have my permission to choose another mask, another identity 😉
In some sense it’s like the catchphrase “Fake it ’til you make it” (aka “act as if”) whose purpose is to avoid getting caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy related to one’s fear of not being confident.
The concerns I had when I’ve wanted to give this a try are the following:
- for how long can we fake it?
- will it create a conflict or tension inside of me?
- will I be able to make it without “being caught” as the role I was acting before?
Concerning the first question I think it’s a matter of practice. At the beginning we sometimes forget during the day that we decided to act in a specific way. But as any muscle that we regularly train, we will slowly get in use to that new role. Friends and family will probably wonder what happened to you, but you can explain it to them if you want, something like this:
“I was tired of being/acting like that and I decided to be/act this other way which I think it’s going to serve me and my loved ones much better.” If they are not comfortable with you changing for better, that’s their problem. Note to self: Practice, practice, practice.
Concerning the second question, the change will probably cause some kind of tension inside of us, at least until we are in use and feel comfortable with the new identity. Just remember that we probably got into this change because of an inner conflict, right? So, if we are feeling some tension anyway, it better be to try to find out the best version of ourselves.
The third question is the most scary one for me. Just thinking about getting to know new people or getting a new job while acting my new identity and then not being able to maintain that identity 24/7 makes me feel very vulnerable. What if they realize that I’m actually acting a part? What if they get to know the “real” me? This has probably something to do with a fear to disappoint people.
But again, what if we honestly tell them our story and why we are doing this? They might end up respecting us even more than before for having the guts to change what we don’t like about ourselves, recognizing that nobody is perfect, that we all have set backs. The “real” me is not even the one we are experiencing right now, full of limiting beliefs and other kind of masks.
Actually, the “real me” is that essence silently observing everything from above our thoughts and feelings, compassionately laughing at the unnecessary chaos that we create for ourselves.
All we need is to find the way of BEING that better serves us, making us feel better, instead of keeping those limiting and self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors.
We have to keep in mind, as this quote by Alexis Carrel declares, that
“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.”
I’d like to leave you with this inspiring talk by Tom Bilyeu, Co-Founder/CEO of Impact Theory & Co-Founder of Quest Nutrition, discussing why identity and values drive behavior, and how you can create a life you love:
In one episode of Bilyeu’s podcasts I heard him say that on average he has to remind himself about 25 times a day the identity he wants for himself. And he is a person on the top of the game! If he is doing it, why not us?
I acknowledge and thank Tom Bilyeu and Aaron Anastasi for their vulnerability and for opening my mind to a new possibility, the possibility to choose the identity we really want for ourselves.
“You are the architect of your own destiny; you are the master of your own fate; you are behind the steering wheel of your life. There are no limitations to what you can do, have, or be. Except the limitations you place on yourself by your own thinking.” Brian Tracy
Have you ever tried to ‘act as if’ to embrace a new identity that fits you better? Did it work for you? Are you going to give this a try? Let me know in the comments.