By Elizabeth O’Brien
One of our main objectives as human beings is to reach a state of well-being—a state in which we are deeply comfortable in our own skin. To do this, we must become more fully congruent. What does this mean?
Being congruent means embracing our true self and projecting it into the world. When what we are feeling on the inside—emotionally, psychologically, spiritually—does not match what we are projecting on the outside, we are in an incongruent state. When we are incongruent, there is a “disconnect” in our sense of self. We are operating from a false self, a persona that does not truly represent who we are.
This is not a natural, healthy way of being. When we adapt too much to those around us, taking on their belief systems and behaviors—trying to be the person others expect us to be—we betray ourselves. Inevitably, we become conflicted and confused, and this ultimately leads to depression and anxiety. Depression and anxiety, in turn, can lead to a dysfunctional cycle of anger, frustration, procrastination, addiction, toxic relationships, unhappy careers, and disappointing, unfulfilled lives.
Surrounding ourselves with people we like and admire, who are reciprocal in relationships and who are striving to “self-actualize,” is key. Choosing work and play that suit our talents, strengths and natural inclinations is another way to become more congruent. Finally, working to transcend our demons—our self-defeating thoughts and behaviors—is another.
Admittedly, all of us must at times conform to certain norms and rules of professional and social etiquette, depending upon the situation. We have a professional persona and a social persona. We also have a more intimate persona. And then we have our deepest, vulnerable self, whom no one, except perhaps our families or closest loved ones, sees. The goal should be working toward an integration of self that incorporates our true self into those other required “adaptations” of self—adaptations that are genuine but scaled-back, less exposed versions of ourselves.