Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
This weeks’ FLASHBACK! is perfectly timed for the Are vs. Should Problem. In Episode 55 I introduced an idea that our uniqueness is related to our DNA and how DNA is really the underlying creator of our ARE. I’m now playing with an idea I’m calling the ‘Uniqueness Imperative’ that suggests that expressing our DNA in our passions and purpose is critical to solving our current human problems.
So this Episode is very timely and supportive of this emergent idea. I’m trying to express my belief that it is NECESSARY, and even IMPARATIVE, that we try as hard as we can to develop our AREs and suppress our SHOULD in order to move forward as a species. We need to lift up the millions of people who are starving, dying from preventable diseases, and experience unequal opportunity. We need to BE WHO WE ARE to unchain the creativity and new thinking that will allow everyone to explore their personal Are vs. Should.
In doing so, we will shift the balance from selfishness to connectedness.
The more the world can become the ARE, the more easily we can solve real problems.
As we release ourselves from the SHOULD, we reconnect with what is truly important.
Becoming more ARE will facilitate growth, for each of us as individuals and for the collective human species.
In this FLASHBACK, you will see the seeds of the DNA argument and understand why I believe we are each meant to express our unique selves into the world and share our individuality with each other. Increasingly, we are doing the opposite. And the suppression of our uniqueness, coupled with the worship of sameness, is destructive.
Last week I introduced a few examples of the Are vs. Should problem. One of the most obvious examples comes up when we think about our careers. When we’re young people ask us what we want to be when we grow up. As adults, many of us wonder what became of those childhood dreams when we find ourselves doing jobs we don’t like. And I’ll argue it’s because we listen more to our Shoulds than to our Ares.
And this isn’t to say that Shoulds are all bad, because I think their intent is honorable. Our shoulds are single-minded in trying to keep us safe. As with our choice of career, the Should wants us to make enough money to take care of ourselves and to ‘be happy’. Unfortunately, the Should is a mosaic of all of the ‘responsible’ voices in our lives telling us what to do, how to think. and how to act in life in an effort to ‘be happy’.
The problem is, the Should isn’t YOU, and it doesn’t really understand what YOU want. The Should wants what ‘the world’ wants. What your teachers, parents, family, friends, and other close relationships want. The Should is modified by the tv we watch and the articles we read on the internet. The Should is deigned to keep the Are at bay, and to push this common agenda at all costs. I’ll talk more about the Are in Part 2 of this miniseries, but for now let’s just say your Are represents the ‘real you’ or your ‘true self’. Or something like that – whereas the Should is partly you, but is comprised of all the voices you hear everyday.
Historically, I think humans connected more with the ‘real you’, or ‘true self’. In other words, we used to listen to the Are more. The emerging problem is, we see a lot of Should in the world today. I’d say more and more people are spending more and more time in their Should than in years past, and humans are losing their Ares in the process.
I think a result of this increasing Should phenomenon is that the Should has become a bully. Rather than being just one of your many parts, the Bully has become the loudest, most feared, and threatening ally in our head. Due to the peaceful nature of our Are, the Should now represents the antithesis to the ‘real you’. The Should berates us, exaggerates reality, and will do anything to keep you from listening to your other parts. But it’s not only that the Should’s voice is becoming louder, it is becoming more and more stifling and homogenous.
The onset of social media, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), and the idea that everyone else is more perfect than you further strengthens our Shoulds. Now our Should aims even higher. To perfection, even, making it impossible to get even close to achieving what the Should would tell us to achieve. To the point where many therapists and counselors suggest we don’t use Should statements at all because this line of thinking sets us up for failure, depression, anxiety, and frustration.
So somehow this Should part of our ‘self’ has gotten way out of hand. The should is taking over who we imagine ourselves to be and creating anxiety, depression, and frustration. It is time to regain control of the voices in our heads by realizing there is a dictator in charge that needs to be checked. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to reconnect with, and listen to, your Are.
Next week I’ll talk about the Are and why it is critical to rediscover yours.
To hear more about the Should side of your self, listen or watch the full Episodes below.
Dana Humphrey (www.danahumphrey.com) can help you transform from being codependent to being independent. Already a successful entrepreneur, Dana has shifted to coaching others to live their best lives by realizing their self worth and focusing on loving ourselves more. She’s an amazing woman and shares with us a simple approach to living a better life.
One of Danas’ central tenets is loving ourselves and focusing on self care. She shares her wisdom of her struggles and how she has realized, and come to embody, a routine of love and awareness. We can all do better at not beating ourselves up and there is a lot to learn in this interview.
Full audio and video episodes this Friday right here at K+E=W.
I am currently working on a larger project that will connect my background in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with personal growth, psychology, and finding more joy and fulfillment in our lives. In Episode 43 I introduce some evolutionary evidence that every individual human is born to discover their uniqueness (despite how ‘woo woo’ that sounds), and how NOT doing so goes against evolutionary theory.
I didn’t coin the term Unnatural Selection. People have used it, generally, to describe forces that affect evolution but are not necessarily a part of ‘regular life’. These forces become selection pressures when they influence the ability for a species to persist. For example, invasive species can be physically moved to new areas where they did not evolve and wreak havoc on the species living in that area. These selection pressures are some feature of the invasive organism that gives it an advantage and with which local species did not co-evolve. These forces often include predation, habitat use, aggression, or other forces that negatively impair local species.
The point of the term unnatural selection is that this novel selection force did not co evolve with the species it is affecting. Most of the time this disconnect is about time or space. In the invasive species example, the organisms didn’t occur in the same physical space (like a continent, island, or area) and so the issue is simply about relocation. Other times the unnatural condition is about time, and the obvious example is climate change. Many argue that human activities are a natural part of our evolution, but the key difference is the amount of time it has taken for these changes to occur. Sure, if human induced global changes occurred over millennia, the earth and its inhabitants may, indeed, have plenty of time to coevolve. But the sudden nature of temperature and CO2 changes over the past 100 years did not allow for such a response. Hence, the selection forces are unnatural.
That’s a long way to go to explain the basis for my argument, but well worth it I hope.
So the main argument I am making in this episode is that humans have imposed a few other unnatural selection forces upon ourselves. If you watched Episode 43, you will know that the main force I consider unnatural is that of conformity. Despite the evidence (which I find compelling, obviously, though you may not) that our DNA, by its very nature, demands that every human fully realize our uniqueness, yet human societies impose the opposite.
Societal norms, religions, laws, politics, and even the popular arts impose forces that encourage conformity. Because it is our nature to NOT conform, but to be UNIQUE, these forces are unnatural. Sure, norms and laws are important. Driving on one side of the road, wearing clothes, not punching people in the face. These are good things. Here I’m talking about mechanisms that discourage people from being different or to behave ‘like everyone else’. On the obvious end, ‘white people are better’ is an unnatural selection force. On the more obscure end, publishers requiring all books to be written according to a set of approved literary rules may result in really, really great books never being published.
The essence of unnatural selection is the intention to make everyone the same, and to make life difficult for those who insist on expressing their individuality. You probably won’t have to think very long to find examples of this in your own life. I have experience mdany examples in my life, and maybe that’s why it’s such a big deal to me.
Therefore, the ultimate travesty of unnatural selection is that the ideas, thoughts, and creativity humans need to survive the future may never come to light because they will be discouraged and effectively ‘weeded out’ of society. As the world becomes more crowded and less hospitable to humans, it becomes increasingly necessary to find unique ideas and approaches that will alter that path. Solving human problems, or any problem, REQUIRES unique viewpoints. As many as possible.
I hope you enjoy the episode. Your comments and thoughts are welcome and encouraged as I develop this idea further.
In hindsight the title of this Episode might not have been the best idea, but my intentions are good. Here I share with you some of my imperfections and struggles in hopes that you can relate. We are so good at beating ourselves up, but here I try to view my flaws with compassion and to be held accountable for my self improvement.
Most of us are on some sort of journey toward becoming better people, and KEW is my attempt to document my own journey for you to relate to. As I argue in Episode 43: Diversity and Uniqueness, our unique journeys are critical to human evolution and it is our duty to discover who we are.
As y’all may know, I have always felt a little different. Like an outsider. People in the 80s may have called me a ‘nonconformist’. But as an adult I have learned that many people feel this way, at least some of the time. And, like I say in Episode 20: We all feel different (But we’re all the same), we all suffer from the imposter syndrome or feeling like we’re out of place. It’s universal.
Part of this, I think, is because we are ‘supposed’ to be different. The entire purpose of our DNA is to enable each individual human differentially equipped to respond to our changing environmental conditions. This, in short, provides the machinery for our species to persist through time. Things change, so we are equipped to change. Then, of course, the environmental conditions will select which traits (the unique stuff) work in the future, and unfortunately which ones do not.
The problem, then, isn’t that we are all unique. IN FACT, it’s the solution. The solution to our problems. So I’m wondering (and continuing to explore as part of a larger project) whether we are creating problems by not embracing our uniqueness. See, the pressures we feel that lead us to believe we are different are UNNATURAL. The world, society, our peers, our jobs, they are all imposing Unnatural selective forces that attempt to make us the same. Conformity rules in society.
Maybe that’s going a bit too far for this introductory episode, but hopefully you see the bigger picture.
I believe we need to stop trying so hard to conform, and instead take a long hard look at who we really are. If we can develop the aspects of our personalities that make us unique, think of what we can accomplish.
I am currently working on a larger project and want to share a bit about it. A critical theme of this project is that diversity and uniqueness are critical to the success of the human race and our planet Earth.
Yeah, that’s a bold claim.
And this claim lines up with something I’ve seen a lot of lately, and that’s people telling you to find your passion. Now, this is a theme I can get behind, but it bothers me that much of this propaganda is trying to sell you something (see Episode 5:Marketing and Solicitation), which I kind of despise.
But the idea of following your passion, of finding your truth, and of doing what makes you happy is something I wrestle with daily. Are we meant to realize what we’re good at and do it as a contribution to the world? Are we ‘supposed’ to figure this out? ‘Should’ we follow our dreams? I like to believe so, but in the context of all this aggressive marketing I sometimes wonder if it’s just a pipe dream of my naive youth. So I’m searching for evidence beyond the snake oil or get-rich-quick schemes I’ve been seeing.
Now that’s a long way to go to get to the purpose of this episode, which results from my research into whether or not our individual unique passions and dreams are important. And I am finding a lot of evidence to support this by melding my background in Ecology, my knowledge of psychology learned on my own personal growth journey, and my personal experience over the past few decades.
Here’s a preview of what’s to come. I think I’m on to something.
I didn’t grow up with any religion. That may seem weird to you, or it may be completely normal. In the grand suite of people in the U.S.A., I think it’s less common NOT to grow up religious. I don’t know about other non-religious kids, but I always had a keen interest in the spiritual world. My natural curiosity led me to learn about everything from ghosts to Buddha. I tend toward ancient cultural belief systems mostly because I think they’re cool. I guess I just like the idea of biological magic and ancestral spirit guides.
Somehow I think NOT being told what to believe facilitates an openness for our curiosity to explore freely. By not growing up with a specific belief system I was able to consider any of them that sparked my interest. What I saw, as many people will say, was the similarities and trends common to different ways of thinking. It isn’t really about the details, I don’t think. What’s important to recognize is that humans long for an explanation, and whatever explanation makes the most sense to us individually serves a purpose.
Whatever your beliefs, I hope my thoughts about the umbrella idea of religion stimulate your own curiosity. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about multiple religions and belief systems, and think I offer a broad and unique viewpoint on the big questions in life. Whether we think we have it all figured out or not, there’s always room to ponder the greatest unknowns.
Our unique identities are important – we are all unique and add to the worlds’ diversity. But we also must participate in various communities. We follow norms and laws so that we can peacefully and safely interact with the people around us.
But how far should we go in either direction? Is no man (person) an island? Should we outlaw hermits? Do we need to consider everyone’s feelings or rights when going about our business?
My thoughts on our responsibilities to ourselves and others.