There are many things in life that we define by marking their progress. I’ve had the “pleasure” of listening to countless “mom-versations” that centered on the single topic of progress markers.
“Johnny was fully potty-trained by 25 months,” or “Lily started saying full sentences before she turned three,” and “Peter can already tie his own shoelaces – he’s only four, you know.”
When you’re 16, your nosey aunt wants to know if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend. When you’re 18, the same nosey aunt says she hopes you’re not too serious with your boyfriend or girlfriend because there’s still plenty of time. Then you meet The One and you do get serious.
Please Join Us!
When: July 2, @1 p.m. ET (5 p.m. GMT / 10:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: Leaning Into Who You Are
Within a few months of dating, the family start asking when you’re getting engaged. After a while, they want to know when you’re getting married. It’s after the wedding the nosey aunts go into overdrive.
They want to know when you’re going to start with a family, adding in a whisper that, “you shouldn’t wait too long, you know.” And when the first baby arrives, they want to know when you’re planning to have a second one, “because you shouldn’t wait too long, you know.”
Leaning Into Love and Problems in the Bedroom
In my case, it wasn’t only an aunt. The cousins, the friends, the friends’ aunts and cousins, and the in-laws all closed ranks on me after a year went by and I wasn’t even talking of babies.
Then another year went by without a nappy in sight. Into our third year of marriage, one of the aunts cornered me at a family birthday event and, in a loud whisper, asked me if we had problems in the… (nodding her head toward the bedroom).
Not being one who can tolerate people sticking their noses into my business too much, I confidently said, “Huge problems. Can I tell you about it?” She scooted off to the tea table quicker than you can say, “Mattress.”
Leaning Into Yourself
The origin of their questions was the societal blueprint for the progression of relationships at that time. There were steps: find a boyfriend or girlfriend, get engaged, get married, have a baby, buy a house, have another baby…
While others fixated on it, I didn’t follow the pattern. It confused the people close to me. In my heart I always knew that I didn’t want to have children of my own. On the other hand, I also knew what the societal expectations were – and that there was a clash.
“Listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it knows.”
Native American Proverb
Around our fifth year of marriage, the pressure became intense. If I was less certain of what I knew in my heart to be right for me, I might have given in to the pressure. But I knew that wasn’t the path my heart wanted me to follow.
Following My Heart
At the time, the concept of “leaning into who you are” didn’t exist. It was only quite recently that I realized my decision not to have children was one of my first experiences of leaning into who I am. I never felt the need to defend my decision and I knew I had my own back.
Our minds make so much “noise,” and they’re often cluttered with many things – goals we’re chasing, progress we need to make, doing things that we think the world wants us to do.
But leaning into who you are requires you to develop an awareness of what your heart wants, and to listen to what it says. When you stand for a long time, it’s natural to look for something to lean against because it takes some of the pressure/work off your body. It’s a type of support, something that will keep you standing for longer.
In my opinion, leaning into who you are is becoming aware of yourself and living in such a way that you know you can lean on you. You know where to find your strength (your wall), and bring it to the fore if a situation requires it.
It’s Not Comfortable
It’s also about a special kind of resilience – a resilience that you only have when you combine the following elements: energy/motivation, knowing your values, knowing your strengths, and knowing you can trust yourself.
We don’t like being or feeling uncomfortable. And we’re good at avoiding things that make us uncomfortable, like starting an exercise regimen when you’re unfit. We know the pain that’s going to follow, and we use Monday as a perfect way not to confront the discomfort today.
All we’re doing is postponing the pain until Tuesday and the muscle stiffness until Wednesday. Later on, though, when you start enjoying the benefits of being fit, you thank yourself for having started when you did.
Leaning into who you are requires you to be OK with being uncomfortable at times, like I was with family and friends and their prodding about having a baby. However, I have not regretted my decision. Today I look back and thank myself for being willing to endure the discomfort and to stand up for the voice in my heart. Because if I ignored it, I would have made a huge mistake.
About This Week’s Chat, “Leaning Into Who You Are”
In our #MTtalk Twitter chat on Friday, we’re going to talk about leaning into who you are, why it’s important and what challenges you face.
This week in our Twitter poll, we wanted to know what it means to you to lean into who you are. Almost 40 percent of participants voted that it’s about self-honesty, while only 11 percent said that it’s about practicing self-love. To see all the options and results, please click here.
We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- How do you understand “leaning into who you are?”
- Isn’t leaning in just self-acceptance, or is there more to it?
- How and where did you learn to make excuses/apologize for who you are?
- Leaning into who you are can be uncomfortable. Agree/disagree? Why?
- What are the benefits of leaning into yourself?
- What happens to relationships when you lean into who you are?
“Leaning Into” Resources
In the meantime, here are some resources that explore elements of leaning into who you are. (Some of these may only be available in full to members of the Mind Tools Club and Mind Tools for Business licensees).
Boosting Your Self-Esteem
The MPS Process
How to Take Part in #MTtalk
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on Latest and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.