Congruence (noun): agreement or harmony; compatibility.
“How did I get here?” Ever feel like you don’t recognize yourself anymore? Some clients say to me, “I don’t feel like myself”, or “I keep doing things I know are not me”. They usually offer a more specific presenting problem when they visit me for the first time, eventually ending with a version of the previously mentioned quotes. And so we begin the journey of answering the important follow-up question – “How do I get back to me?” I know what they are saying is that they don’t feel whole and are not living as their most authentic self. They don’t feel congruent. Their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors seem mismatched. We’ve all had this experience before, even if mildly – when what we’re doing is the opposite of what we want to be doing. If we’re fortunate, we’re able to pull ourselves back on track with little effort. We fall behind on paying the bills, and then we refocus and get caught up. We venture away from our goal of getting that college degree, eventually recommitting to the process and finishing school. The variations on this theme are endless.
As they take a closer look clients say that somewhere along the way they lost a grip on their true identity. Some discover they felt pressured to be congruent with other people in their lives, and so surrendered their genuine self to avoid abandonment. For others, the demands of daily living caused them to lose sight of who they wanted to be and how they wanted to get there. The most foreboding stories include descriptions of a childhood where the chance to grow into a healthy person was interrupted by abusive treatment from a particular person(s). Some realize they were distracted from their vision by negative peers or family members who needed them to remain in unhealthy patterns of behavior to keep a system’s status quo. We strive for congruence – or sense of harmony – with others, but we inherently long for congruence with our own genuine identity – the self we would be without the defenses we’ve created to cope with the harshness of life.
Living congruently can be defined as having one’s mind, soul, and spirit aligned in purpose and intent. Ultimately, living a congruous life would bring a person a sense of “wholeness”. On the other hand, the extreme result of living incongruently can leave a person feeling fragmented and ineffective – which can lead to depression, anxiety, and sometimes suicidal thoughts. And there are times when we are so desperate for some sense of congruence, that we will align with even the negative in order to achieve that sensation.
“If I feel like nothing, why not just be nothing”. I pray no one is challenged by this belief about themselves, though it happens.
So how do we reach congruence? We begin with honest answers to questions about our core values, what we believe about ourselves and others, and shifting our behaviors to reflect those values and beliefs.
Values Beliefs Behaviors
If that 3-pronged tier seems too daunting, stay connected for Part II of “I’m Just Not Myself Anymore”, where you’ll learn ways to clarify for yourself who you are and how you want to live your life. Be encouraged. There is a way to wake up everyday knowing you’ve found your true best self once again or maybe for the first time!