I want to talk to you today about an interesting idea which I call "revealing the sculpture." The big idea is this: it's that so often when we start to embark on a path of self-improvement, self-development, things like that, this awful, awful thing happens where we get obsessed with adding on to ourselves. We get obsessed with adding onto our character traits that are positive, and trying and trying to figure out ways and tactics and techniques to remove the ones that are negative. We focus on adding so much that we end up kind of forgetting the things about ourselves that are effortlessly powerful.
What I want to talk about today is really this idea of revealing the sculpture which is the idea that the path of self-improvement, the path of developing yourself in any area, becoming a better man, becoming a better husband or whatever it is, becoming a better employee, is not so much doing more, and figuring out how to add on to yourself. It's figuring out how to cut things off of yourself, and away from yourself, and like a sculpture is revealed out of a block of marble, it's not a process of adding, it's a process of just removing everything that isn't beautiful, and that isn't what you want.
I was thinking about this because on my drive home from work today, I was realizing that I had been more sincere with other people in relationships recently, and been letting down a lot of the persona that I carry around. I don't know if you're like me, but maybe if you are, you also kind of feel from time to time that you put on behaviors. Maybe you're a habitual people pleaser, or you smile when you don't actually find things funny, or you're putting on a tough guy attitude. You're putting on a persona to try and get the approval of other people. I was just realizing that I felt very alive today on the way home from work, because that energy that I had been spending trying to put on the right face, and to put on the socially acceptable behavior, had fallen away. The energy had been maximized, and increased, because I no longer was focusing on pleasing other people, but just focused internally, focused on what was going on with my own emotions, focused on how I felt and how I would like to present myself in the world, rather than how I would like to present myself for other people.
That thing, that energy lost, because you try and keep up appearances for other people, is called persona-fatigue. It's this idea that you start to get tired. When you're habitually putting on a mask, you get tired. It takes energy. It's just like a liar has to think a lot to keep all their lies straight. A lot of us are lying in the way that we present ourselves to other people. So what I'd encourage you to do, if there's any value, or if there's any action item from this little talk, is start to look at yourself, start to live internally, start to reflect on yourself, and almost meditate on yourself, all day, every day, almost as an outside observer.
Watch what's going on, watch the spontaneous emotions that flicker across your mind and that you feel in your body. Watch those emotions and see if those emotions are lining up with the way you're presenting yourself, of if you're consciously resisting them. I don't know how better to explain it, but there's a felling that you get when your emotions are out of alignment with the way you present yourself to other people. The reason why you do that is because you want to impress them.
Then there's a totally different feeling, a totally different quality to your relationships, your communication, and your life, when that's not the case. When your emotions and your interaction with other people are totally in alignment, and you don't resist your own intrinsic desires, but go with them, and let the chips fall where they may,