Authenticity, Health, and Flow
It's a challenge when we wear a lot of hats in our daily life, especially ones that aren't on the same rack, and we have trouble figuring out which one to wear the most frequently. Even if we do figure out the ones we like to wear best, we then have the challenge of being authentic while wearing them. The stress of this can take a toll on our health as it causes us to question our sense of purpose and the stress of not having purpose tends to bring illness or discomfort in one form or another.
Imagine somebody who is passionate about baking, skydiving, painting, and works as a financial analyst, but studies French in his "spare time." Edward J Ratey and John J. Hallowell explain this as a means of finding stimulation for people diagnosed with ADD in their book "Driven to Distraction." They argue that these people lack the proper stimulation that supports the brain activity necessary for ideal focus, so they seek it out in their lifestyle.
This is often a sign of aberrations within the root chakra as it's likely the individual might not have a strong sense of grounding. From a psycho-energetic standpoint, one might say it leaves us in health limbo as we might be feeling a little better because we're fulfilling purpose or multiple purposes, but we're not sure which one takes priority or aligns with our place in the world. A lack of grounding makes it difficult to maintain focus, which in turn brings stress.
I found myself acknowledging this challenge head on when I began learning energy healing and craniosacral, because although I had found my purpose, I couldn't shake my passions. I was an English teacher, a musician, on the road to becoming a bodyworker/healer, and I had a handful of hobbies. The problem was, I was passionate about my work, my music, and the career I was working towards, but I had trouble connecting them. There were days where I would get up in the morning and go teach five or six hours of class, give bodywork to a practice client, and then meet with a band (that I might be managing and playing with) for a rehearsal or a gig. I felt like I was several different people in one day and it was exhausting. While I felt blessed to have the people in the circles that each one of those vocations brings, I was definitely the odd man out socially in each situation. And then I was always feeling the stress of not being a complete success in each one of them all the time.
The logical thing to do was cut something out so that I didn't lose my mind and I could be more proficient in what was most important to me and my survival. Since I wasn't paying my rent as a musician, I dropped that. Big mistake! I just found myself depressed and resentful and I realized that would have to be remedied. Despite it being my main source of income, I quit teaching (the least important aspect of my life) and found mindless work that paid the bills while I built up my practice and played in multiple bands. While this seemed a step up, I still wasn't connecting with myself the way one might hope to. The bands were a lot of fun and I made a little money on the side, but I also felt like my creativity took a backseat to the projects. And my bodywork practice was making a little bit of money as well, but it would take some time until it could fulfill my needs economically.
One of my jobs at this time was as a teaching assistant for a craniosacral class as I wanted to deepen my skills. A colleague/mentor explained to me "The most important thing I've learned as a healer is that you have to be yourself." Eureka! So true and simple, and yet so easy to forget in the whirlwind of such a seemingly complicated world.
I made a decision; I was only going to play music that fulfilled me creatively and that it would take a backseat to bodywork. This later evolved to me writing music that served me therapeutically as I decided to be authentic about my art, rather than just playing in bands that allowed me to gig more often. And in my bodywork practice, I would now be my authentic compassionate self and practice how I could best serve my clients as the real me, not what I perceived to be the ideal persona of a healer. As a result, my clients were having better results and referring more people to me and I began playing more interesting shows and creating music I was more satisfied with. Most importantly, I had the capacity to see more clients, play more music, and take better care of myself. In other words, I found flow.
If you're struggling with your health and your life, a good question to ask is "Do I have a sense of purpose?" If the answer is "yes," the next question to ask is "Can I be myself in all aspects of my life?" If the answer is still "yes," then it sounds like you're a walking inspiration to your peers. If you can't find a way to fit your authentic self into the other aspects of your life, I believe that's a good time to ask "why?" Is it your own process and blocks or is it that you dislike what you do for a living?
I'm not a career counselor so it would be beyond my skillset to recommend what to do with a seemingly undesirable career. What I can offer is to at least take a moment for some introspection about your place in the world and whether or not it allows you to be you. You can then more clearly understand when you are being you, and when you're being who you think you are expected to be. That should make your intention and purpose a little more clear.
It goes without saying that some people are better at this than others. And some people can afford to be completely authentic without having to face dire economic consequences for their behavior. For those of us whose living depends on our reputation, it's for sure a challenge. Yet, it's still possible and it's amazing what we might learn about ourselves and how we might make greater contributions to the world around us when we works towards this. If for no other reason we owe it to ourselves to work towards this for better health, and our community just might benefit as well!