For the first time in world history (as far as we know), the individual can be the sole arbiter of their individual identity.
Even if you don’t subscribe to this philosophically, you might be tempted to live your life like this practically. It’s so enticing to present a carefully curated “version” of yourself that makes you feel strong, connected, or successful.
It’s easier than ever to do this in a world mediated by social media. And the instinct to put on a mask or put on a show doesn’t just stop where our online life ends. It extends into every facet of our relationships with each other (and ourselves). We might morph into someone we think we need to be on the job, in the classroom, in our romantic lives, as parents, as “good people”. We’ll fabricate entire narratives about who we are because we’d rather look good than be seen. We’d rather be right than be real.
Meanwhile, we postpone — if not outright avoid — the real discovery of who we are because who we really are can only be uncovered as our real selves come out to play.
But if we would be courageous enough to risk it — to dare be our unrehearsed, unedited, under-construction selves around other people committed to the same adventure — and if we are open to considering what they experience around us, we can begin to understand who we are in ways that we would never expect.
Because the bottom line is simple: You cannot fully see yourself by yourself.
We cannot possibly know how common our feelings are unless we give other people a chance to tell their story. We cannot possibly know how valuable our gifts are until we see them appreciated in the lives of someone else. We cannot possibly understand how selfish and limiting some of our habits are until we see what they take from someone else. We cannot possibly know how devastating our suffering is (or isn’t) until we invite others to join us in it. We cannot possibly know how big we should dream until we find out how others want to help.
What It Takes to See Ourselves Better
If you really desire to know who you are, it is time to ask an important question: Who can you trust?
This isn’t a simple question to answer. Some people don’t deserve your trust. Some people don’t believe in you. Some people relate to you based on their own fears and foolishness.
But some of the people who deserve your trust the most are people we are tempted to shut out. These people care for and invest in you — but they also question, challenge, and disagree with your opinion of yourself. What a gift to have someone in your life brave enough to be honest with you! Their perspective isn’t necessarily accurate, but it might be — and at least they respect you enough to assume you can handle it.
Once you select someone (and, ideally, a group of someone’s) with whom you can boldly live in the light, don’t hold back. Don’t overly-manage your engagement. If there are details and desires you are used to hiding, this is the place to bring it up. If there are dreams and longings you have been under-nourishing, this is the place to spotlight them.
‘Here’s where self-discovery gets rocket fuel. Begin to practice the sacred, courageous art of feedback. Ask questions like “What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” and “Give me the last 10%…the thing you think about me right now that might hurt a little.”
And then listen. Listen to what they say and take it in as information. Not good or bad. Not right or wrong. Just information.
As you practice this regularly with the same group of people, you will not only develop an appetite for it, but also you will muster up more courage to be shockingly, lovingly honest with each other. This is a sure-fire way to understand more and more of your full identity. And develop the deepest bonds along the way.
Inside these rare and sacred relationships, you will begin to see who you really are.
How to Get Started
- Think of one to three men you believe you can trust.
- Invite them to share what it’s like to be on the other side of you. Not accusations or stories, but 1-3 descriptive words (ex: “I think you’re kind, humorous, and lazy”).**
- Choose to receive it as an act of love.
- Respond to them by saying, “Thank you for caring about me enough to be honest.”
**Next Level: Avoid using any mitigating language like “sometimes” or “a little” or “sort of”. Really be brave and simply state what you mean. “I get the impression that you’re deceitful” not “I get the impression that you’re kind of deceitful”. “I get the impression that you’re getting in your own way” not “You sort of sometimes, I don’t know, maybe get in your own way.”
How Unravel Can Help You Make the Next Step
Once you have a better sense of how those you trust see you, Unravel can help you take that next step. Unravel is for men like you, interested in honest self-examination and improvement. Men in Unravel groups push each other to discover who they were truly meant to be and to take tangible steps toward building better habits, setting worthwhile goals, and learning to become leaders in their families, communities, and workplaces.
To find out more, explore what we have to offer today.