I perceive this world and universe through the filters of my unique personality. Same goes for you. You perceive this world through the filters of your unique personality. That is the way it is for all of us.
Grand teachers of all ages and races say that our true self is exalted, beyond any limits and definitions. Beyond our unique but limited personalities. Maybe my truth is beyond my limited personality – unlimited, infinite. I do at times get glimmerings of being connected to and being at one with the vast energy force field that permeates our whole universe. However, I do not experience that all the time. Not yet. I am operating in this world through my personality. Sometimes when I am frustrated with myself, I find that personality limiting, exasperating. Feeling hemmed in and frustrated with myself, I wrote once –
शरीर का सीमित आकार
व्यक्तित्व में गिरफ़्तार
भटकती फिरती इधर उधर
कहाँ है कहाँ है मेरा घर
(a limited body, imprisoned by personality, I roam about cluelessly – where is my home?)
“Imprisoned” was just that sad feeling at that time. I wouldn’t say I’m imprisoned by my personality, but rather that it is the unique vehicle I am riding as I navigate this world and life. We all, each one of us, is riding the vehicle of our unique personality as we navigate this world and life.
Our personality is not an inconvenience to be endured through life. Not something to make snide jokes about as veiled self-criticism. Our unique personality is the unique vehicle we ride as we navigate through life and this world. And it serves us well to know, understand, and love the vehicle that we ride. It makes the ride that much more enjoyable and smooth.
Ask any car rally enthusiast or wise practical city-dwelling man, he will tell you – it is important to know the car you drive. Want to earn your father or husband’s approval? Here’s a way to crack it – become a super-knowledgeable-your-hands-dirty-with-grease dude with your car. (Better still, don’t try to win their approval. Live your joy).
So while I navigate this world, with my limited personality-filtered perceptions, it is important for me to know, understand, honor and love my personality, the unique vehicle that I ride, so as to better navigate this world and life and have some fun while doing it.
When we do not know, understand, honor our personality we are just passive passengers “riding” our personality – letting God or the devil do whatever crazy they wish to do at the driver’s seat. When we take the time and effort to know, understand, honor and love our personality, we get to sit in the driver’s seat (sometimes) with God as the navigator. Yay! Himalayan Car Rally here I come!
Knowing, understanding and honoring our personality, the unique vehicle we ride while we are here, enables us to function better.
Two things have helped me tremendously in getting to know my personality better.
2. A “Know Your Strengths” Exercise suggested by Marie Forleo
What??? Vani you love science! You are so logical and analytical. And you turned to the silliness of astrology? I am disappointed in you!
Simmer down. We’ll talk about astrology in another post sometime. Let’s tackle the second first – a very simple Know Your Strengths exercise. Rather, know your Unique Awesomeness.
Know Your Unique Awesomeness
Marie Forleo in New York / New Jersey, the creator of MarieTV, runs B-School – an online course for wannabe entrepreneurs and already-at-it-and-wanna-rocket-to-the-sky entrepreneurs. The most heartening thing about what she offers is how to do business while aligned with your soul, your inner truth. That is at the core of her message – honoring our true self. She, so very kindly, gifted me a fully-paid scholarship to her B-School program a few years back.
The first week of the B-School program is the deepest. It is about acquiring clarity about our own self and about the ideal customer of our business. One of the “classes” in that first week is “Leverage Your Uniqueness” and Marie Forleo recommends that we go out into the world with our UAP “Unique Awesomeness Proposition” (not just plain bland USP, Unique Selling Proposition)
It is all about, to quote Marie, “finding that sweet spot: that purposeful, joyful, clear place where your greatest gifts meet your customer’s needs”. And this is not just about business. It is about living our life.
Conventional (read, hackneyed) wisdom tells us to work on “improving” our self, work on identifying and acknowledging our weakness and then working on improving ourselves in those areas.
As we work and work and work on improving our weakness (mostly just by beating ourselves up in our private admonishments) we wilt and wilt and wilt – while all the time our strengths that are automagically (yes, that is a word) God-given to us are sitting tapping its fingers, waiting to be used, still as fresh as day one, despite all the self-flagellation.
So the wise thing my dear devoted reader (I do hope you are my devoted reader. Subscribe if you want to become one.) is to consciously know and honor your strengths and leverage that!
Ok Vani, how do I know my strength? I am so hopeless…
You are not hopeless. The instant you accept that, you shall become hopeful! Magic!
Here are two simple ways that worked superbly for me. Suggested by Marie Forleo, I now pass them onto you-
#1. Now Discover Your Strengths book
This book includes access to a personality test. People play with all kinds of funky personality tests on their way to office and share on Facebook – but this is different and good. I am different and good am I not? Ergo, it is but logical – what I recommend is different and good. (Btw, you are different and good too. Same pinch!)
I found the personality test in this book to not only be good, but for me, rather accurate. After you answer the questions, it gives you your five topmost strengths, in decreasing order of impact.
My two biggest strengths as per this test are –
Quoting a bit what the book implies by Connectedness: “Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our judgements, possessing free will, but we are part of something larger. Some may label it spirit or life force. Whatever your word of choice, you gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it.”
Quoting a bit what the book implies by Intellection: “You like to think. You like exercising the muscles of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; simply that you like to think. You enjoy your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection…”
Man, for the personality called Vani Murarka, this is bulls-eye accurate! Ever since I fully understood and acknowledged these aspects of my personality, (by observing my thoughts and emotions), I committed myself to sharing this strength with you on a consistent basis (Every Saturday and Tuesday. Have you subscribed yet?) via my blog “vani expressions”. I decided to consciously channelize and leverage my strength. But that became possible only after I explicitly recognized and acknowledged my strength. Not just because this personality test said so – I found, out of self observation that it was indeed so.
The same goes for you my friend. There is something about you that is so absolutely beautiful and comes so automagically naturally to you. Please find out what it is and love it and honor it and live it. Don’t wait for your spouse or parent to acknowledge you. Even if they do, it won’t help much. It will help a bit, but not much – unless you must find out and acknowledge and live your beauty.
There are many ways that beauty manifests itself. There are many basic strengths the book has identified, 34 to be precise. Give it a shot to find out what they think about you. Borrowing a used book might not help because to take the personality test, there is a scratch patch with a number at the end (kind-of like a password) which gives you access to the test online.
They seem to have a direct online (paid) version too – Gallup Strengths Center. I used the book.
Note: I have no referral association for the sale of this book or Marie Forleo.
#2 Ask Your Friends
Another method Marie suggests for knowing your strengths is to ask your friends. Mostly we are so conditioned to focus on what is wrong with us that we have no visibility left to see what is right and good about us. So it is good to ask. It can give us visibility about some aspect of our self which we were not aware of. So the method is simply to ask your friends – “What are my 3 best qualities?” Email them, or whichever other method you want to use, but I suggest you don’t just ask publicly on your Facebook timeline! 🙂
Ask at least 25 people Marie suggests, and I agree with her. You will see a pattern emerge in the responses that people give. There may even be just one clue that you get which is crucial for you at that point in time. When I did this, when I asked people I thought I could ask, I did get some pattern. However one feedback from one friend really stood out. At that point in time I was in a position to consciously acknowledge and leverage that strength. She said I have the “Ability to say ‘NO’”.
Those days, after having left the corporate and academic world, I was at a loss for what to do with myself, my time, my life. I realized that while I did not yet know what to do, I clearly know what I do not want to do. I also recognized what exactly happens inside me which enables me to reach that clarity. If I continue with an activity or engagement that I do not want to be engaged in, I feel a strong sense of being coerced, of my arm being twisted so to speak, by the person or system or whatever imagined ghost I am struggling with – and my being protests against that and I reach the clarity that I must *not* do this. I even feel a strong distaste in doing or continuing with that activity. Ever since I have explicitly recognized this aspect of my being I have learned to honor it and trust it as a guiding force whenever that kind of feeling arises. As I know that feeling clearly now, I can also differentiate it from other tendencies to say no that I may have, either out of fear or because I just want to take it easy, or whatever other reason. Hence I have the faith that this strength of mine will not misguide me.
So dear devoted reader (I know you have subscribed by now) – go on, write to 25 friends and ask what your 3 best qualities are.
Whether you use these methods or not, do honor your personality. Recognize your strengths and honor them. Maybe you’ve heard this thing that is said, “love yourself” and maybe it did not make much sense. Well recognizing, acknowledging, honoring your unique personality is one place it starts. The beginning of seeing the beauty in you. The tender, sweet, absolutely gorgeous, luscious grand beauty in you.
Image credit: BBC TopGear Magazine India Car Gallery – Volvos in Himalayas