Dr. Rose Moten, Featured Collaborator
It’s the New Year. And, like millions of other people around the globe, you’ve likely made (or at least thought of) goals you’d want to achieve in 2017. Each and every year, we make resolutions to lose weight, save money, open ourselves up to love, etc. Like perfume, these resolutions go on strong and fade just as quickly. By spring, if not before, most people have ditched their resolutions by the wayside, waiting until the next New Year to repeat this cycle again.
Why is it that most people are unsuccessful in achieving the goals they set out for themselves?
As a clinical psychologist and life coach with over 18 years of experience, one thing remains consistent: the overwhelming majority of my patients are people just like you and me. These everyday Americans are going to work every day; coming home to families every evening; and, doing everything they were told as little boys and girls to ensure a good life. The problem for the many is “life doesn’t feel so good”. There’s a nagging sense of unfulfillment and discontent that’s just as strong as the scent of coffee that greets them in the morning. These feelings are a direct result of our disconnect with self. Most people are living life with no true understanding or appreciation of themselves. Before I expound on this, let me share a quick story.
When I was born, the doctors informed my parents they had given birth to a bouncing baby boy. As the story goes, my mom passed out just prior to pushing me out; and, she was informed she’d had a boy in the recovery room. Around that same time, my father called the hospital and given the same information. With two girls already at home, my parents were hoping for a boy. It wasn’t until the nurse brought me to my parents (hours later) that the truth was revealed. I can just imagine the celebratory cigar my dad had perched so proudly in his mouth, drooping in disappointment.
Due to human error, I had a compromised identity for the first several hours of my life. Fortunately, the majority of us don’t experience this type of mix-up at birth. However, unfortunately, it doesn’t take long before society – our parents, culture, educators, religion, or even our own insecurities – to manipulate the truth of who we are.
We were promised the “American Dream”. We were given steps that, if followed, would pretty much guarantee a satisfying life (e.g., “go to school, get a job, have a home, start a family, etc.). And, in spite of the majority of us doing some or most of what we were told, there continues to exist an unshakable sense of un-fulfillment in our collective psyche.
So, in my first session with any new patient or coaching client, after all the paperwork and the initial introduction are complete, I ask the question that early on in my practice unexpectedly led me to discover the source of our discontent. We have been asked these three simple words hundreds, if not thousands, of times in our lives. And, though it’s a question everyone assumes they will always get right, in my nearly 20 years of practice, I’ve yet to have one person, answer this question correctly:
“WHO ARE YOU?”
Most respond with their name, with or without a role or title (“I’m a mother”, “I’m a husband”). Others respond with a career position (“I’m a teacher”, “I’m an engineer”). In reality, these very sterile and rote responses tell very little about you.
Let’s think about what you were told you should be while growing up. For example, we were told to be: more poised; less brash; more sociable; less introverted; more nurturing; or, less blunt. The authenticity of ourselves was constantly being chastised if it did not resonate with the desires and expectations and norms of those around us. Before even the opportunity to discover and embrace our vitality, uniqueness, splendor and magnificence, we are being told by others the definition of ourselves.
As a result, we were conditioned to stifle our natural persona (our true self) and replace it with an imposter. Thus, creating a lifelong existence where we are human doings as opposed to human beings. Some may ask, “why would our parents, society, or our culture want to suppress the essence of our being?”
The answer is quite simple: our parents did it to us because their parents did it to them. Tradition and uniformity were perceived as easier, not to mention safer (“adhere to the norm and try to not rock the boat”). The risk to behave or think outside the “cookie cutter” was not worth the consequences. However, the standards and expectations lived by parents don’t necessarily hold true for you. As the world evolves, so must our awareness of self.
From getting into relationships that are not healthy or compatible to finding yourself in careers that are in opposition to your gifts, this disconnection from self has lifelong repercussions. Living life contrary to your true nature is telling you to spend the rest of your life walking backward. While it’s possible, the amount of sheer mental effort will lead to complete exhaustion. The much easier and rewarding path is to just turn around and walk forward.
We are engaged in a daily routine of being who we were told to be, and wonder why we are so unfulfilled. The start of a new year holds so much appeal for us because it represents a new opportunity to get it right. However, people continue to target the symptoms of the problem, and not the problem itself. Obesity, relationship woes, and lack of career success are all symptoms of a disconnected persona. People must first get to the truth of who they are; then, they can truly start to plug into the magic that authentic living provides them.
In my book, BLOOM: 7 Steps to Personal Transformation, the first chapter is entitled, “REDISCOVERING YOU”. It was important for me to start the book with this chapter for true success is impossible without first going within and finding the truth of ourselves.
Research has consistently found that the number one predictor of a successful life has nothing to do with one’s academic success or intellectual ability. It is the combination of emotional intelligence; awareness of self; and, ability to apply this awareness to function successfully interpersonally, socially and occupationally.
This past August, after going through a difficult period in my own personal life, I introduced a concept called, “The Month of ME”. For 30 days, coaching clients, strangers in cyberspace, and people all over the world joined me virtually to rediscover the truth of ourselves. We engaged in activities that authentically and unapologetically celebrated this journey of discovery. The participation and feedback I received were beyond amazing. One woman emailed me to share she used the month to examine and rid herself of all the faulty programming which prevented her from being her best self. Her feedback reminded me of something I recently read regarding the process of metamorphosis.
Did you know to become a butterfly a caterpillar must first digest itself? To achieve metamorphosis and transform itself into what nature intended, it had to first eliminate all that is contrary to the spreading of its wings. This is a great metaphor for personal growth.
Before setting another goal or profess another resolution, I challenge you to commit to spending the next 30 days going within, like the caterpillar. Enlist a good therapist. Meditate. Download the first chapter of my book for free available on my website, www.DrRoseMoten.com. Dedicate this time to examining and rediscovering your own truth. I guarantee that when you emerge with your wings spread wide and an unadulterated sense of self, you’ll be amazed at how effortlessly success and happiness flow into your life.
Dr. Rose Moten is a Clinical Psychologist, Author, Speaker, and Life Transformation Coach. With 18 years of experience, she works with individuals and organizations all over the world. Her book, BLOOM: 7 Steps To Personal Transformation, provides practical, proven steps to help others uncover what holds them back, and guides them in the implementation of practices which helps them bloom into success. Check out her website here. And, be sure to follow her on Twitter (@DrRoseMoten), Instagram (drrosemoten), and Facebook (Dr. Rose Moten)