Right! Let’s begin by addressing the meaning of incongruence.
Coined by a famous psychologist, incongruence is created when we have a discrepancy in our self–belief and compare ourselves to how we wish we could be – something known as the ‘ideal self’. So, we look at who we are and compare ourselves to who we want to be – an apparently better version of ourselves. Sound familiar? It should, because every one of us has, at one point in our lives, ‘wished’ that we could be like someone else or, be better at something – even ourselves. Usually, we have fleeting moments of incongruence, and technically, the older we get, and the more experience we get, we should outgrow this. Yes? Um, no…and how do we know this? Well, because incongruence can manifest in many ways – from stress to anxiety, and even unhealthy, destructive competitive behaviour.
One truth that we should accept is that to overcome incongruence we must validate ourselves before we seek validation from others. No matter how much flattery and gratitude are thrown your way by others, if you can’t accept yourself as you, you will always be incongruent. And actually…who cares if others validate us – a different topic for a different day.
Incongruence does a lot of damage if it isn’t addressed. It causes you to live a life behind a mask. You hide who you are from you (weird…I know…), and from others. Some examples where these manifests are:
- Not being true to yourself in a relationship e.g., accepting the status quo or not feeling that you can reveal your true feelings
- Following the conventional route at work to not let others see your true potential because it may cause politics at work…
And oh dear…these examples happen often…Sad? Yes. True? Yes.
So, let’s take a moment and live in a world where we realise that we have the identity that we ‘wished’ we had. What do you think would happen? Well, here’s the guarantee – you would become one of the best in your field. Why? Because you will practice the art of having a crafting mindset. What does it mean? Created by Cal Newport, a ‘crafting mindset’ means to become even better at your niche. There is a lot of detail and science behind this so, if we extrapolate it to being congruent, once you acknowledge your authentic identity, and not the perceived one, you will end up building on the already fantastic you. On top of that, opportunities suddenly appear – ones that you didn’t ever dream about. Why? Because you create a world that is natural to you. All this for being your true self!
Is it even possible to get better at being great? Sure! Let’s look at every sportsperson that we know and apply their formula(e). Watch a tennis player or Formula 1 driver literally train. They don’t just get on a tennis court or in a car and practice. They go beyond the call of their chosen sport. Some of the ‘extra’ things that they do include:
- training every muscle in their body through weights, yoga, and Pilates
- improving their reflex capability
- keeping their reflexes alert
- eating the right food
- associating with a mentor and a coach
- sleeping to heal their body
Now, again, apply your imagination. If we know who we are, don’t lie to ourselves about it, and practice being a fabulous creation, we can only build on ourselves by expanding our expertise in whatever we have identified with.
Firstly, this isn’t an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of hard work and courage to acknowledge that you have betrayed yourself by not being ‘you’. Secondly, when you do uncover your ideal self, keeping this ‘upgrade’ means stepping into a whole new arena of maintenance. You don’t end up maintaining yourself through menial tick-box courses or exercises; instead – you ramp up quicker and harder – so you aim for the moon and land on the moon – you don’t rest on a star. Your trajectory becomes greater. Does this sound complex? Well, it isn’t. In practical terms, it means that what you only imagined will become a reality or, what hasn’t been imagined, will become a natural idea-generating process that will lead you down a path that wasn’t ever on your radar.
Live your truth. No one else will do it for you. Life is too short to waste ‘you’.