The tagline for Cured Life is “Aspire to Be Your Best Self.” It is a lofty, idealistic sentiment, and my idea of living my best life will look far different than yours. But the topic today applies to everyone: Aspirations ≠ Capabilities.
We all have aspirations and capabilities. These two things can exist on wildly different planets, requiring us to restructure our lives to get them working in harmony. Sometimes we are unaware that such a harmony can exist.
In the past, I spent a lot of time and energy attempting to be someone I wasn’t, all the while ignoring my innate capabilities. I stayed in relationships where my inner self was suppressed. I stayed in jobs where my aspirations could not be realized. I engaged in activities and conversations that later led to regret and devastating feelings of inauthenticity. The labels I had adopted did not represent the fundamentals of who I was at my core.
The truth is always the last thing standing, and that applies to who you are as well.
You cannot change your personal truths and capabilities. Yes, you can cultivate skills and push the boundaries of your comfort zones, but the facets of your character that are ingrained will remain steadfast. And that is a gift.
This may mean the relationship you’re in will ultimately fail because the charade you’ve been keeping up is not sustainable due to your capabilities. Despite how much you may aspire for a particular partnership to be successful, there is no magical method for amassing the capacity to be someone you are not. If you are in a partnership where you’re suppressing your extroverted personality to placate the desires of an introvert, or vice versa, you are in trouble. That statement neatly sums up a very complex idea, but you get the picture.
I have been reading The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, which expands upon this idea in an utterly inspiring way. There is a lot of talk about identifying, trusting, and honoring our “inner nature.” That is merely a fancy way to label who we are and what we are capable of, and seeing those things as empowerments, rather than hindrances.
Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got.”
“When you know and respect your own inner nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don’t belong.”
“You’d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.”
“We don’t need to shift our responsibilities onto the shoulders of some deified Spiritual Superman, or sit around and wait for Fate to come knocking at the door. We simply need to believe in the power that’s within us, and use it. When we do that, and stop imitating others and competing against them, things begin to work for us.”
“There are things about ourselves that we need to get rid of; there are things we need to change. But at the same time, we do not need to be too desperate, too ruthless, too combative. Along the way to usefulness and happiness, many of those things will change themselves, and the others can be worked on as we go. The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it.”
As I’ve spoken about several times now, I formerly used absolute words like “never, forever, and always” with abandon. They were ways I tried to trick my mind into believing I could do certain things, or be a certain type of person by drawing hard lines in the sand. The only constant was my failure to adhere to those self-imposed rules, because they didn’t honor who I was.
Everyone aspires for greatness on some level, but you have to realize what your greatness is.
Here are some ideas about figuring that out, if you feel a bit lost:
Relentlessly Explore a Myriad of New Experiences
The best way to figure out what you like and dislike? Try things. ALL OF THE THINGS.
Even if that means failing miserably, feeling vulnerable, uncomfortable, or challenged – those are the areas where true growth and awakenings happen. Sometimes the best way to identify your capabilities and inner nature is to test out every possibility and see how you take to it.
I would not be as “awakened” to myself as I feel I am in this moment if I had not engaged in all the relationships, jobs, and experiences that I have pursued. Most of them didn’t end up jiving, but they led me to understand myself in a fully enlightening way.
Ask Someone You Trust to Speak on Your Character
Sometimes demanding an honest, outside portrayal of you is a necessary evil. You may not like what you hear, but when someone is around you often, they can pick up on your energy and tendencies. When confronted with those truths from an outside perspective, it can be quite educational.
Do you seem upset, angry, or sad a lot? Are you unpleasant to be around? Those are all red flags that you are not executing your life in a way that aligns your aspirations with your capabilities. You may be trying to mold yourself into something that you’re not, which manifests negativity in your life.
Instead of channeling anger towards those that point these things out, consider them gifts of insight into areas you can alter, in order to get aspirations and abilities working together.
For examples of some in-your-face honesty that led to amazing breakthroughs, watch Tony Robbin’s new documentary on Netflix. Incredibly powerful stuff.
Identify Embodiments of Authenticity
I am a relentless seeker of inspiration, and am particularly drawn to stories of success where people seem to be thriving in a harmonious blend of authenticity, talent, and the pursuit of their passion. In simple terms, it is the difference between a pop star who is molded into an image and sound by a label, versus an artist who creates unique, distinctive masterpieces that are original and free of outside influence. One looks comfortable and natural being who they are, the other is clearly manufactured.
Who can you identify as inspiration that will further your pursuit of matching capabilities with aspirations?
Scan Through Your Arsenal of Appearances
Do you have a closet full of things you never wear? Items that were purchased with the intention of presenting a certain look, only to later realize they didn’t actually match what you were comfortable with?
I went through a phase where I had a closet full of cute dresses that I never wore. I had all the best intentions, thinking: “I could be the kind of girl who wears dresses all the time and looks feminine, and put together, and chic.” That was ultimately a lie.
What I really wanted was to look effortless, and to cultivate an appearance that just seemed to “work.” My choices were influenced by women who pulled off those looks successfully, but I will be a pants, t-shirt, and jacket kind of gal till the day I die. I now try to restructure my arsenal of appearances to match my feelings of authenticity.
By taking a good hard look at how you present yourself, and how you feel inside of those clothes or behind that hair, or under that makeup – there are a lot of hidden truths about what you may be hiding, and where your aspirations are not meeting your capabilities.
Sometimes our positive capabilities get overshadowed by the negative predispositions we were born with, or adopted along the way towards growing up. You cannot change your past, but you can cherry pick the moments you choose to hold on to, and morph them something positive.
Feeling that we are destined for failure, not talented enough, unworthy of love, or that the whole world is against us… all boil down to perspective.
Some of my favorite excerpts:
It is the nature of the untrained mind to want what it perceives as advantageous and to fear or hate what seems painful.
You may feel overwhelmed by the circumstances of your present life or bound by past traumatic events. Again, this is a failure in perception. They are just mind-states which can be known. They can be seen as impermanent and not belonging to you and, therefore, they do not ultimately define your true nature. A spiritual practice can provide you with the knowledge and discipline to investigate and work with these conditions.
Food for thought: Can you identify your unique greatness,
and utilize those innate capabilities to achieve greatness in your life?
One final inspiration, going back to The Tao of Pooh:
To know the Way,
We go the Way;
We do the Way
The way we do
The things we do.
It’s all there in front of you,
But if you try too hard to see it,
You’ll only become Confused.
I am me,
And you are you,
As you can see;
But when you do
The things that you can do,
You will find the Way,
And the Way will follow you.
- Benjamin Hoff