Nov 062017 0 Responses

Part of You Doesn’t Work

Humanity is complex. Our uniqueness is found in the original mixture of strengths/weaknesses, experiences, passions, etc. While we may share these aspects with others, we are different because of how these elements combine to make us who we are. To truly be ourselves, we must offer the totality of who we are to the situations and people we encounter.

But we don’t.

Instead of bringing the fullness of who we are to our relationships, work, and circumstances, we choose to only involve aspects of who we are. Fearing rejection or failure, we create caricatures of our true selves and attempt to interact by only offering partial aspects of who we actually are.

It’s true in marriage. We hide parts of ourselves that we don’t want our spouse to see. Rather than all of me interacting with all of my wife, I only offer part of myself. Believing that I might be rejected, mocked, or pitied, I hide my weaknesses, insecurities, and inabilities.

It’s true at work. Instead of bringing the fullness of who I am to my workplace, I offer a limited version of myself. I don’t give full effort. I hold back aspects of my heart and mind. While my bosses have hired all of me, they only get part of me.

It’s true in friendship. Most friendships are kept at a surface level so that they cannot see the depth of who I am. Assuming that if they saw the true me, they wouldn’t love me, I offer to them the part of me I think they will like and hide the rest.

None of this is done with ill intention. The purpose is clear–I think life will be better if I only offer part of myself to others. Not only will I be less likely to be rejected since I’ll only offer the parts of me that I think others will like, but also if something goes wrong, I won’t be as hurt. Of course, this is a lie. Holding myself back from others is never productive. The very life I desire is the one I miss when I choose to fully give of myself.

We hide in an attempt to limit pain and further relationship. But hiding does neither.

Four Areas Where We Give Less Than All

There are many areas where we hide parts of who we are or give less to others than our full selves. Here are four:

Story. Everyone has aspects of their story which they do not like. Some are embarrassed by past experiences. Others are ashamed of failures. Many feel their story isn’t dramatic enough to matter. Whatever the circumstances, our stories belong to us. We cannot know or be known without including how we got to where we are. When we hide our story, we are hiding ourselves.

Pain. It doesn’t take long for us to learn that revealing pain is dangerous. People exploit the pain of others for their own good. So we quickly learn to not reveal what hurts. Yet when we conceal our pain, we are concealing a vital part of our personhood. Pain gives great insight to who we are, why we do what we do, and why we want what we want. Pain is often a great source of connection with others. When we hide our pain, we are hiding a key point of our humanity.

Effort. We are hesitant to give all of our efforts because if we do, we don’t have any excuses. As long as we give just part of our energy, we can use our partial effort as excuses if things don’t go well. “I really didn’t try.” “I was focused on other things.” “Had I truly studied I could have done better.” We give partial effort in order to protect ourselves, but in so doing, we are robbing others of the fullness of who we are.

Attention. The fear of missing out seduces us into continually keeping an eye out for what is next. We do so at the expense of what is before us. We miss out on meaningful relationships and moving experiences because our attention is only partially given. While we believe we can effectively multi-task, we should know better. Partial attention ensures missed clues, misinterpreted circumstances, and many misunderstandings. (See: Why No One Pays Attention to You)

We are continually tempted to only give part of ourselves, but we must resist the temptation. Others deserve the fullness of who we are and we will benefit by giving ourselves fully. This demands courage. It is so ingrained in us to hide and hold back that we likely don’t even realize we aren’t fully engaging the world around us.

But think about it.

Are there things you want to say to your spouse but you haven’t?

Are there opinions you have about a project at work but you’ve held back?

With whom have you shared your greatest fears?

With whom have you communicated a past struggle in order to encourage or teach them?

Have you used your story (even the shameful or embarrassing parts) in order to help someone else?

Are you living in denial of a struggle or sorrow?

When we hide or hold back aspects of who we are from others, we are limiting our own humanity. It’s only when we fully engage the totality of who we are that we have the opportunity to connect with others, influence situations, and understand who we are.

The Fullness of You

There is one characteristic of those who engage their full selves in relationships and circumstances–they are on a continual pursuit of better understanding who we are. We never fully know ourselves. We are so complex and we have been so influenced by others that to know ourselves we must continually pursue understanding. It’s only when we begin to peel back the onion of our lives that we can better discover who we truly are. As our discovery grows, we can engage who we are in the relationships and situations that surround us.

This process of self-discovery begins with a personal choice, but it cannot happen in isolation. You need others in order to have meaningful discovery about yourself. Ask a friend what they see as your greatest strengths and weaknesses. Talk with a co-worker to understand how others see you. Read a meaningful book which challenges your actions or attitudes. Have your spouse describe one way they think you aren’t fair to yourself. Visit with a counselor. Consider a life coach. (See: How to Better Control Yourself)

As you initiate the process of learning and transforming yourself, you will have more awareness about when you are withholding the fullness of yourself from others.

God created you. Don’t hesitate to bring the fullness of yourself to every situation.

Cover Photo by Talgat Baizrahmanov on Unsplash

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