I am most fully alive when I am most fully me. I cannot think of a more important psychological principle than this. The more I am living in harmony with my unique feelings, needs, perceptions, and creativity, the more alive I feel. As Henry Thoreau put it, “Most people live lives of quiet desperation and take their song with them to the grave.”
Are you living a life of quiet desperation? Do you feel that you haven’t discovered your unique song; your unique message, your unique offering? There is no greater psychological need than to become yourself.
Sarah has been a religious Jew for 15 years, married with two children. For the last three years she wakes up dreading being religious but she feels so entrenched in her lifestyle that there’s no alternative but to push on even though she knows she’s faking it and doesn’t really believe in it anymore. Sarah is living a life she does not own and she’s dying as a result. Her husband, on the other hand, is a happy camper, loving the religious life and has become even more religious over the past three years. What is Sarah to do? Does she choose a path of more personal authenticity or suck it up and suffer for the sake of her family? This is a gut-wrenching decision. What indeed is the right thing for her to do? I have no question that the right thing for Sarah to do is to face the truth and begin a frightening yet courageous journey to explore who she really is, what she truly wants in life, and what Judaism really means to her at this point in her life. One thing for sure is that as long as she continues to fake it and not take ownership of her life, she will suffer and feel dead.
In our daily prayers, we say, “the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, the G-d of Jacob.” Jewish tradition informs us that the reason for the repetition of G-d with each of the patriarchs is to teach us that each one created their own unique relationship with G-d and their own unique spiritual path. Imagine growing up in Abraham’s home and being his son. Do you think there might just be a tiny bit of pressure to become like dad? Yet, Isaac forged his own unique path to becoming his unique self. This could not have been easy for him. Yet to become a copy of his father would have been psychological death and there would be no place for him in Jewish history. The world already had an Abraham. What the world needed was an Isaac.
The same applies to each of us. The world doesn’t need another person like your friend, neighbor, or mentor. The world desperately needs you to be you! Are you on the path to true differentiation and becoming your unique self or are you trying to copy someone else? If you are a wannabe, you are for sure not feeling fully alive. If I am choosing life, then I am choosing to be me in all my uniqueness.