The best and most supportive advice I’ve ever received has also been the hardest for me to achieve. Why? Because it was so simple and paradoxically complex.
Just be yourself.
What does that even mean?!?
Well, for me, it meant being open to the process. A process that is ongoing and has taken several years to get “jump-started.” Much like so many in show business that are classified as “overnight successes” – all the years of hard work and dedication that led up to that point don’t show once the spotlight (finally and luminously) hits them. So it is with authenticity, or being yourself.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. (Unless it’s a gestalt shift, which is possible, but a blog for another day.) Rather, it’s a process of slow, deliberate, and conscious awareness-raising and decision-making.
Recently, though, a dear friend said that awesomely supportive phrase to me again, and I heard it anew. I was asking him what he needed from me in terms of support. (This is common amongst mental health professionals – we’re somehow trained to ask about needs and clarify, clarify, clarify. It’s good for relationships, though sometimes can come across as clinical and/or sterile – or, gasp!, even annoying. But I digress.)
Anyhow, this friend was facing a challenge, and I asked, “What do you need from me? How can I best support you?”
“Just be yourself.”
At first, I balked, recoiled and tried to rephrase my question to get an answer I wanted. Repeatedly. And then it dawned on me:
Being myself is all I’m ever capable of, and all I’ll ever need to be.
And that’s more than enough, whatever “myself” is.
And I think that, right there, is my spotlight of “overnight success.” It was like finding that last puzzle piece that had fallen under the table. You knew it was there, and the puzzle was basically finished, but the nagging feeling from that missing piece doesn’t leave until it’s put in place.
Years of searching for the absent piece (processing, learning, remembering, unlearning, reading, listening, talking, sharing, growing, crying, changing, fearing, laughing, sorting, and every other “ing” you can think of) have resulted in my finally being able to receive the best advice I’ve ever been given…and embody it! Woo-hoo!
So, my friends, it really is that simple, and it really was that deliciously complicated. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The best paths are the ones we’ve worked for, the ones we carve ourselves – for they are the most lasting, treasured walkways. (Plus, we know them so well it’s easier to find our way back if when we get lost again.)