When You Know Who You Are, You Know What To Do

Today I was chatting with my agent about some pitch material for my new book, and I was trying to distill its essence down into a single line.

And ultimately, after maybe 20 minutes of back and forth about this, it came to me:

When you know who you are, you know what to do.

We live in a social structure that, by default, trims away at our originality, energy and creativity in order to make an orderly environment in which everyone can coexist.

Society itself not malevolent. There’s no grand conspiracy to turn you into a cog in the wheel.

But over time, we are shaped, in myriad small ways, to fit into a more or less consistent mold. It makes everybody easy to live with, but it also means that none of us are quite living up to who we could be.

It happens when a teacher scolds you for being too energetic in class.

It happens when a grandparent tells you that your affection is inappropriate.

It happens when a boss criticises you for trying something different to ‘how it’s always been done’.

Eventually we start trimming ourselves in anticipation of what’s expected of us.

Gradually, the things that make us unique are reduced, slowly and without our noticing, until we become strangers to ourselves.

It’s how you wake up one day and realise you are completely stuck, and for the life of you can’t figure out why. It’s how you forget the truth of who you are.

But the body and the subconscious mind don’t forget.

They notice and remember everything. Your body is the guardian that carries you through every experience you ever have, recording and absorbing everything that happens in your life.

You might not consciously notice that a particular conversation upset you, or that a new relationship reflects a pattern of past relationships, or that you’ve started sacrificing your own needs to meet someone else’s expectations.

But your body knows, and will make that information available to you as soon as you start looking for it. Your subconscious will serve up memories of all the moments your original self was trimmed.

That’s why it’s so powerful to cultivate a private writing practice: it’s your key to unlocking what has been removed and hidden away.

It’s all this buried treasure that allows you to identify what you need in order to continue your growth, and to become the person you are supposed to be.

This isn’t just about living your best life, though.

Yes, it really matters that you get to live a life that fulfils you. But we are living in a time that is asking a lot from each of us, and to answer the call, we need clarity about what matters to us, what we will stand up and act on.

When you know who you are, you know what to do.

When you know who you are, you know how people should treat you. You know what you should be working on. You know how you should be showing up in your relationships. You know where you need to be an activist, an agitator, an advocate.

It frees you from being reactive and fearful, and releases you into being intentional and focused.

It reminds you of what gives you joy, what energises you. It fills your life with meaning, and by this rejection of the status quo, of this rebellion against any further trimming, you become who you were always meant to be.

Have a play with this. When was the last time you were trimmed? How can you get that original part of yourself back? What hidden details does the writing reveal?