Tanya Younce, M.Ed., LPCC


The 4 Key Components That Keep You REAL!

“To be nobody but
yourself in a world
which is doing its best day and night to make you like
everybody else means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”
I’m not exactly sure what year e.e. Cummings wrote this quote, but I do know that he died in 1962, so it was some years before then.  And back then, they didn’t have nearly the amount of media, advertising and social barrage that we experience today, pressuring us to be somebody else. Today, it’s become even more important to hang onto that which grounds us and reminds us that we are okay just the way we were designed.  Do you remember back when you’d get so drunk in college that the room would spin when you tried to lie down? (yeah….you do.)  The trick was to keep one foot on the floor so it sent a message to your body that you weren’t really spinning.So what’s your “flooring,” in the midst of your spinning world?  I break it down into four key components:

  1. The people who keep us honest and true to ourselves.
  2. The places where we feel comfortable and emotionally safe.
  3. The things that remind us to hold steady and stay grounded.
  4. The actions or activities that bring forth our most authentic selves.

When I was in college, I was in a very self-exploratory mode, and for some reason I thought it would be cool to change the spelling of my name from Tanya to Tania.  I was studying French at the time, so maybe I thought it looked more European.  At any rate, I’d written a letter to a friend from high school (yep, we still did that back then), using this new spelling, and he wrote back “What the hell is this T A N I A shit? Pretentious much?”  He totally, totally busted me!  LOL!  So he was a friend who kept me REAL.  He didn’t let me get away with being anything but myself, and that’s what I call a true friend.  So who in your life calls you out whenever you’re doing something stupid or against what they know you’re really all about?  Make a list of these people — past or present — and periodically ask yourself “What would ________ think of me doing this?”

Does coming home to your parents’ house remind you of your roots and real self?  Does your best friend’s front porch allow you to be who you truly are?  What about a specific spot in a park or the woods?  Or a certain vacation spot?  One of my clients told me she created a little space in her walk-in closet where she goes to get grounded and feel safe.  It can be ANY space that has the ability to hold YOU and your real feelings, or brings forth the values you honor the most (even a church or maybe your yoga studio).  Write these places down as well — so that if you start feeling like you’re lost or losing some part of yourself, you have a place to go to get re-rooted.

Do you know why tickle blankets are so important to children?  Because they’re the constant in a world that seems scary and ever-changing.  Over the years, our tickle blanket turns into other things, like a stone we found, old pictures, or a special bracelet or necklace given to us, a meaningful tattoo, certain comfort foods — even our morning cup of coffee can be what grounds us!  Whatever you have to hold onto or wrap yourself in, it should be the thing that reminds you not to veer into the bright lights and sell your soul to get other, more superficial, needs met.

When I was going through my divorce in 2008, I did yoga EVERY…SINGLE…DAY.  The ritual and flow of it kept me focused on what was true and where I had control. Yoga kept me calm, humble, and honest, because my body always showed me what it could and couldn’t do.  There was no faking anything there.  So think of activities that resonate with you, that remind you of where your physical power is and — maybe more importantly — where it is not. Activities that bring us peace or release, so we can let go of that which no longer fits for us.

Once you have these components identified, I’d suggest carrying them with you in the form of a list — either written on a small card you can put in your purse or wallet, or you can use your ‘Reminder’ app on your phone to keep track of them.  However you want to do it, the list serves as your “flooring” when your life starts spinning out of control.  If you weren’t able to come up with some of these components, then make it a point to create and cultivate them.  Recovering addicts go to meetings and have sponsors, religious people go to their place of worship or read their scripture, nature lovers get outside and commune with the living world.  You can find your people, places, things, and activities that bring you back to your Self virtually anywhere.

Just realize that, more than ever, we need our personal army and ammunition in place if we’re going to keep fighting what e.e. Cummings claims is the hardest battle which any human being can fight. And boyyyyy do we have a lot to protect ourselves from!

Be well!

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