Inertia - Nº117
Getting into alignment
Alignment begins with a constituency of one. These are the individuals whose substance is real, pure and nonnegotiable. They share their vulnerabilities and fears in complement to their strengths. They are comfortable weaving all parts of their lives together in an integrated way. Our level of effectiveness, contribution and integrity of work and life are in direct correlation with our level of integration, self-actualization and total alignment fo body, mind and spirit.
— Kirstin S. Kaufman
How hard is it to change? I’ve always considered myself an adaptable person. Able to bend my thoughts, feelings, and actions around external situations rather than the other way around. But this momentary change is not actual change. You can’t wake up and decide to be someone new, spend a few days simulating that ideal, and say it’s a job well done. It requires alignment. Today, tomorrow, and forever.
I’ve spent the past few years learning to align myself better. Life is hard enough, why add friction? That’s what I tell myself. We all change our minds, whether at the peak of messing everything up or out of sheer curiosity to see what we can do better.
Forgiveness is as important and powerful as alignment—both work together seamlessly. And that’s what life is about. The challenge of being alive is different in reality to what we think it is. It’s not about being perfect or clean, fault-free or better than anyone—or else you’re an idiot, doomed to fail and be miserable—the real challenge is to be the person you can love and live the life you don’t want to run away from.
Alignment is about keeping to your curated and sculpted DNA. Soft skin, strong core. It is hard to learn this; life and its education are so focused on teaching obedience and perfection and competitive supremacy that we’ll spend our lives blaming ourselves for things that don’t make sense.
Whether you do it consciously or not, you are putting amazing things into the world that others notice and respond to. Your work—sharing a conversation and a joke with a stranger in a store queue, small talk at parties or conversations at work, or what you broadcast on social media—attracts (or repels) others. It shapes you and your footprint. And though it’s too easy to accidentally attract the wrong community because you learned to share an image of yourself you think others will like. If that image isn’t who you are, you’ll probably feel alone and misunderstood. Like I have done in the past. It’s like summer unto winter. Peak euphoria until you realise reality is not that kind.
Getting into alignment means paying attention to how you feel through individual experiences and your life. It’s that simple. People fail to get in tune because they expect things to be more complicated and then do more than they have to.
The archetypal childhood experience often includes expressing authenticity and heartfelt and genuine curiosity—but being laughed at for it, which might teach us to avoid the pain of ridicule from trying to be different. “You simulate what you think other people will like and then act like that”. You then overthink what reality is and thoughts tangle together. It no longer feels like a collection of beautiful memories as we age, but a bundle of single-toned efforts to avoid the pain of the past.
It was the opposite for me: trying to be different worked out better. It showed me that it was a sadder experience trying to be like everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re good at reading the room and emulating others’ preferences, you can add a layer to yourself that will help you fit in—which is a prized social skill. Some might say it’s necessary to develop a high level of proficiency, especially if you move across different circles of people with different norms. The differences between my friends at home, work, university and online taught me that.
You just need to be careful. It becomes dangerous the moment it’s unconscious—when your performance becomes your reality. Your mind isn’t very good at telling the difference, and you can lose your sense of self.
There are arguments against faking it until you make it for this reason. Because is it better to conceal our imposter syndrome, puff ourselves up and inhale artificial confidence, or wear our self-doubts on our sleeve?
I will explore many of these ideas over the coming weeks. But for now, understand that alignment comes from taking our anxiety as a cue to form (or re-form) a fuller and more honest view of ourselves—and let that be the guide. Define what you know, and explore and figure out what you want to know with a high level of clarity and proficiency. If you’re stuck, check in with yourself. Write about it. Avoid being caught up in unconstructive thought loops and find a way to articulate yourself in a way you know best. But respect that even when you know what’s true or best for you, your emotions will not automatically catch up to that knowledge.
Align yourself through action. That is how you show it to yourself over and over again until it truly sinks in.