Polly Campbell is author of the new book, Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People. Polly is a writer and speaker specializing in personal development and spirituality topics. Her work appears regularly in national publications and she is a blogger with Psychology Today, and a teacher for Daily Om. For more than two decades, Polly has studied and applied the techniques she writes and speaks about to her own life. Polly and her family live in Beaverton, OR.
Dear Paulo, I’m having a relationship dilemma. I’m a confident woman who knows how she feels and what she wants most of the time, I’m also very flexible (despite what looks like pushiness) and want to be able to negotiate/make decisions etc. with a man – in the process of dating adventures and whatnot – I often mollify this part of my nature – to be more “feminine” and let the man lead…I can’t find the balance, do I just need a strong man, so I can fully be myself?
–Konfused in Kihei
Konfused, it sounds like you are confused about who you are supposed to be, confusing personality with identity (aka soul). I would take a look at what your “core beliefs” might be – operating assumptions about people that were formed when you were very young, which may have subconsciously stuck to this day, making you feel and act in certain ways.
We get so attached to having a consistent personality, but the personality is just an act (the “persona” was a mask that actors wore in ancient Greece). The really good actors know how to adapt and play different roles, depending upon the scene and other actors on stage. If you are having conflicts with dates, you are probably clinging to the act that you know best. Perhaps this is the one that makes you feel safe … or in control. Whatever the case, a stronger man to contend with is not going to solve the problem of contending, make you feel better, or make it easier to be fully yourself. That’s an inside job, which has more to do with releasing core beliefs and the shame that often comes from them.
Meanwhile, in your social interactions, be more open. Express yourself in different ways. Improvise a little bit. Try some different roles. Take some risks. Embarrass yourself once in a while (you can’t embarrass your true self :-). You’ll be surprised at the results. You will learn so much more about what other people like, feel more free, have more fun, and definitely prove that you are not your personality!