The endless raging debate ends, the constant uphill struggle ends, the inner hostility of a lifetime ends only when I achieve a true and enduring congruence within myself. Congruence is a simple enough idea – just not such a simple gig.
Congruence is when the me I take into my daily life is a harmonious union of the me I most naturally am and the me I most want to be.
I am who I am partly by nature. This is how I was “originally made”, the factory settings, you might say. I don’t have anything to do with it. And apart from the obvious genetic input from my parents, nobody else really has anything to do with it either. Certain attributes just come built in. This is the me I am handed on arrival, the me who I have no real choice but to be. I call this the “innate me”.
But I am who I am partly by nurture, meaning the huge range of influences and forces that shape me over the years. Early in my life these are mainly external forces well beyond my control. But as I grow in strength, understanding and worldly skills, I come exert far greater personal influence. I start forming aspirations about what I want to do and, more profoundly, who I want to be. And in pursuit of these aspirations, something new – or, more correctly, someone new – begins to emerge. I call this emerging someone the “cultivated me”.
Congruence is harmony between the innate me and the cultivated me.
This can be a tricky harmony to achieve. The two are sometimes playing very different tunes. They are sometimes virtual strangers to one another. So it can take considerable resolve, patience and sensitivity to get up close and personal to each of them, to develop a respect and love for each of them and to bring them together in a balanced and enriching union.
In practical terms, it’s impossible to prescribe a one-size-fits-all method for doing this. But at the heart of it, it requires two things of me: a willing embrace of the indelibly natural me that I am and a decisive commitment to my vision of the me I aspire to be. This is not a contest. The goal is harmony, not victory. Here I open myself to the subtle and profound mystery of being both seed and sower, art and artist, clay and potter. I’m both surrendered and engaged, receptive and assertive, self-accepting and self-defining.
Throughout my adulthood, the lack of personal congruence has been at the heart of much of my unhappiness and discontent. Along the way I’ve been blessed with opportunities to craft and practice a greater inner harmony. Of course, it continues to be a work in progress. Still, I’m grateful for the modest harvest of peace, courage, joy and freedom it has yielded so far. It has made such a big difference to me. I’d warmly encourage you to explore this possibility for yourself too.