When you live with congruency, life becomes easy and all the different parts of your life shape into a new, greater whole…
Life gets quite complicated when you have to consider all the advice and guidance when trying to balance all the different aspects of your life. And to stay congruent within your decisions and lifestyle choices, it becomes more and more intricate.
So when you have the chance to choose only one life principle that can serve as the backbone, or spine of all your other life principles – and still try to stay congruent to your core values – what would that principle be?
What would the core principle be for you to ensure that your thoughts (inner-self) and action (outer self) function interdependently – and are totally aligned?
Lets define congruency first…
In maths and geometry when referred to congruent triangles for instance, two triangular shapes are congruent if they are the same (shape and size) – meaning, if the lengths of the sides and the angles are the same.
If the triangular is translated, rotated or reflected, you’re left with something congruent to what you’ve started with. This is because a translation or rotation just moves a shape: it doesn’t change the angles or the lengths of the sides. A reflection might change how the shape looks, but it doesn’t change the lengths of any of the sides or the size of the angles.
In psychology and NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming), congruence is defined as having rapport with yourself, or having internal and external consistency, perceived by others as being stable, sincere or certain.
When you’re congruent in your life – it means you act in direct accordance and proportion with your dreams, desires, beliefs, values, mission and goals. You might change the way you look (appearance), you may try out new ventures, you may broaden your horizons in your life-set-up, but inherently you stay the same, always approaching life from the same angle.
It also means, you do not let the thoughts, actions or influences of others affect your approach to your life, nor the deepest understanding of who you really are. It means, your internal and external stories match – no matter what.
A balanced life requires being congruent within three core aspects of the triangle
- Your perceived self (inner-story) – what you think how you are and how you see yourself
- Your ideal self (inner story) – the one you tell others of what you are because you may not like the real you
- Your real self (external story) – what you tell others how you are and how they experience you
You are incongruent when these three aspects – your perceived self, real self and your ideal self are in conflict.
Humanistic psychologist, Carl Rogers believed that when the perceived self, real self and the ideal self are closely related, you will feel competent and capable. But when there is a mismatch, it can result in an increase in anxiety and stress.
The perceived self to the real self
So when you try and live a congruent life you have to define your values and beliefs as they are right now – your real self (I am…) not as you think you are or how you would like to be – the real you. You need to analyze and scrutinize your actual perception of your characteristics, traits, and abilities – and define what you’re really are like, which form the basis of striving for the self actualization tendency. When you’ve identified the gaps you know what to do to become real and authentic so others can build trust in you.
The real self and the ideal self
In Rogers’ triangle, the ideal serves as the base of the triangle which supports the perceived self and the real self. This demonstrates that Rogers thinks that the ideal self is at the core in which all else is built upon. Meaning, you only need to define your ideal self carefully for you to be able to become the ideal self. You’ve already started to build upon it and you may experience frustration (not feeling whole) because the perceived or real self can’t get to the ideal self quick enough.
Rogers believed that people enter counseling in a state of incongruence, or a point at which a discrepancy exists between the individual’s self-perception and their real self. He often asked this question in his counselling sessions: “So, you find it hard to believe that they would love and accept you if they knew who you really were.”
Rogers further believed the real self is what you are intrinsically. It`s the self that feels most true to what and who your really are; the honest self that leaves you most comfortable in your skin. It may not be perfect, but it’s the part of you that feels most real. And it`s the one you need to learn to accept and love the most.
The ideal self on the other hand, is the one you think you want to be, and the one you feel you are expected to be by everyone else’s standards. You want to accommodate those expectations because you believe you will be more liked, loved and accepted if you do.
The problem arises when your ideal self are too far removed from what you really are, and you begin to experience dissonance, discouragement and demoralized – leading to stress and anxiety because the real self never seems good enough and the ideal self seems impossible to attain.
You can’t deny the person that you are, and you can’t deny the person who you see yourself want to be. But if you have a clear, realistic and optimistic view of your real self, then your ideal self could be more attainable.
Life becomes beautiful when you stop pretending – and act as your beautiful imperfect self – and present that humble self in an authentic way to the world.
How to become more congruent
Mainly two parts…
- Understand what you stand for and what you are passionate about to share with the world
- Set your life up so that you can act congruently with these beliefs on a daily basis
Understand what you stand for…
- Know your values and act according to those values – Discover and uncover your values and beliefs, find the answers to “who am I” then living out those values so that others can see who you are reflected through your actions and not necessarily by what you say. Your values are the rules and standards that guide your life and thus this process of self discovery will never end. And the question of what are you best at – and what is most important to you- changes often, which is okay. But knowing your values at any given time, and not acting and living according to them; is being incongruent and can lead to stress and unhappiness.
- Commit with conviction to your identity – An identity that you create for yourself that will inform and direct every aspect of your life. Once you know who you are, what you want and believe in, you show it more and more through your words and actions, which leads to mingling with similar people, which in turn leads to more opportunities arising. Write a mission statement for yourself of yourself and read it often. Use words that ignite your imagination and passion.
Set up your life
- Motivation for your life becomes automatic… Steve Pavlina says on his blog that alignment comes down to working on these four questions until they produce the same answer:
What do you want to do? (desire); What can you do? (ability); What should you do? (purpose); What must you do? (need)
When these four areas are aligned, motivation occurs automatically. Thought and action are automatically balanced because you are living your purpose consciously. Answer these questions truthfully until you get to the one answer and follow that religiously.
- Mind your daily communications – In living your life two things can happen; deceit and denial. Deceit is being aware of your thoughts and feelings but not expressing them, because of fear of rejection or being your authentic self. And denial is when you deny or don’t recognize a feeling, which is a defense mechanism to reduce anxiety. Be true to your mission statement and don’t be afraid to face your feelings and vulnerability. People will like you regardless.
Figure out the main principle of your life
To come back to above question of: What would the core principle be for you to ensure thought (innerself) and action (outer self) are one and on the same path? And instead of seeing each part of your life as independent, you see them as interdependent?
What is that one thing?
Could it be love?
For instance… to love your body means you will follow a proper diet and exercise regime. To love your mind you will develop it with learning. To love others is servicing the community and those who need help. To love your work is to do it passionately and enthusiastically, and perform much better. To love your feelings, means to respect and honor the messages they send you as it helps you grow.
Could it be health?
With health as a main principle means, by exercising your body you increase your overall health and wellbeing: your romantic relationship improve as you feel more confident in the bedroom feeling energized and sexy. Your career flourishes as by being healthy, you can be more productive and perform better, and take less days off from work. And in spirituality you become closer to the divine as you feel your body is pure and clean.
Discover your principle…
When you start injecting this one principle into every area of your life, alignment will gradually occur, as all the various parts of your life slowly come together as one congruent whole. You won’t feel as if these different parts of your life compete for your time and attention. Instead you’ll feel a sense of internal cooperation. And you simply cannot violate it without suffering the consequences in all areas.