We all wear different hats.
Most of us have jobs and careers, keeping us busy from 9 to 5—or for some people, even longer. Then we’re members of a family, parents, pet owners, volunteers in our community, coaches in our youth sports programs, gardeners, beekeepers, photographers and more.
Sometimes, we can feel like we’re a different person, depending on which hat we’re wearing at the time.
It doesn’t mean we have multiple-personality disorder.
It just means we’re humans.
Wherever you go, there you are
Jon Kabat-Zinn, widely known as the founder of mindfulness as a stress-management strategy, teaches that we must commit to being present in each moment.
Kabat-Zinn, who the book titled Wherever You Go, There You Are, believes mindfulness and self-awareness teach us to manage all the hats we wear.
With the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness and equanimity right here and right now.
We have aspects of ourselves that seem different.
All it means is that we’re leaning into our strengths. You might feel like a different person at work and a different person coaching your kid’s soccer team. As long as you take your core values with you, you take you.
That’s what it means when I say “the personal is the professional.”
It’s important to do different things and behave different ways to broaden our perspective, welcoming new knowledge and new skills into our worlds. We can be five different people — all under the same hat. (Whether people like us depends on whether we’re a committee of assholes or a well-oiled board of directors.)
As long as we act with integrity, we hold true to our core values and every hat feels natural and comfortable.
Mind you, a slightly uncomfortable fit can be good for us, as long the material stretches and grows with us.
The wrong fit
Our core values guide our behaviour and decisions. They define who we are, not how others see us.
Get out that writing pad and write down your top three values. If you haven’t defined them yet, think about the words that are intrinsic to you as an individual. Adventure?
Now write a definition for each one and create one or two examples of how you accomplish each one.
If you do have your values defined already, maybe now is a good time to revisit them and update your examples.
- What does this word mean to me?
- Does this word make me feel fulfilled?
- How do I incorporate it into my life?
If you bring those values into every facet of your life, no matter what hat you’re wearing, you are aligned.
If you’re in misalignment — if you don’t experience honesty at work, if you don’t experience compassion while coaching kids soccer — you’re in the wrong role.
And now you’re stepping into the territory of Imposter Syndrome.
When our hats don’t fit well, we start to say yes when we really want to say no.
We push ourselves to the extreme every step of the way.
We stop taking care of ourselves.
It’s time to get clear with ourselves and build our plans to realign, nourish your core values and break away from the BS (burnout and stress). Here’s how you do that:
- Reacquaint yourself with your core values
- Have a clear vision of who you are and what you want to achieve
- Stop comparing ourselves to others
- Surround yourself with people who lift you up
- Say no if the ask doesn’t feel right for you
When we take care of ourselves, the fractures in our lives disappear.
Pulling it all together
A local pageant competitor comes to me for help with her public-speaking abilities.
She says she wants to sound like a natural speaker, like me. She feels awkward on stage, like she’s steps behind everyone else because they’re so much better at it than her. She’s busy comparing herself to others because she doesn’t feel comfortable.
She’s also a competitive dancer. She feels at ease on stage in front of an audience, as long as she’s dancing.
Recently, I asked her how might she perceive someone like me who doesn’t know how to dance but just started dancing.
She replied: “An oddball, a misfit.”
But, I asked, what if I practise, put in my 10,000 hours and then dance for you?
“I’d probably think you were a natural.”
She had her little lightbulb moment and realized that becoming a good public speaker takes time and practice. Yes, it comes to some people more naturally than other, but it can be learned.
Our next step was to have her just tell me a story about something, anything that interests her. She found a topic she was comfortable with and her story was engaging and entertaining.
The words flowed freely, because she was showing up as herself instead of trying to be like anyone else, including me.
The moral of the story is no can be you except you.
For heaven’s sake, why would you want to be anyone else? If we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place!
Our pageant competitor was trying to make a new hat fit. She was stretching out of her comfort zone (a good thing!) but jamming herself into a space where the hat didn’t quite sit right.
When we wear our different hats, we put different expectations on ourselves.
The fractured feeling comes from when we don’t check in with our core values and ask “is this the right choice for me” and “how can I feel comfortable doing this.”
When we’re clear on who we are, it becomes easy to say “yes” or “no” to anything that’s asked of us.
It makes each hat an easy choice.
Then our behaviours are in line with our beliefs and we live truly authentic lives, feeling confident, strong and healthy.
And wherever we go, there we are.
I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in stress management, health and wellness, personal growth and life balance. Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!