We had a great pleasure to have Dr Priya Virmani share her wisdom on how to live an authentic life in a recent DrivenWoman workshop. I wanted to share one of the core concepts discussed that evening – the difference between making an adjustment and fundamentally compromising the essence of who you are.
What is a difference between adjusting and compromising?
We adjust when we change our plans to accommodate those of others. For example, you agree to cook fish for dinner if your guests don’t eat red meat. You dress appropriately to a wedding even if you normally only love wearing jeans. You take your partner’s views into consideration when decorating the house. You take your family to Eurodisney even though you hate amusement parks. You give up some of your demands in a business negotiation situation to reach an agreement.
Adjusting is often temporary. Adjusting is part of good manners. Adjusting is basically necessary if you want to live and work with other people.
Compromising on the other hand is much more severe. If you compromise on your values life may start to shift to a wrong direction. If you keep compromising on who you are you feel stressed and out of place. You can even fall ill if the gap between your essence and the reality of every day created through compromises becomes too large.
Compromising happens when you give into your husbands constant negative critique on how you should dress, for instance. Personal fashion sense is one of the greatest ways of self expression. You compromise when you give up on your career plans because your parents don’t approve them. You are compromising when, in the office, you agree to a working style that is against your beliefs and values.
We compromise when we let other people deny the essence of us and make us feel devalued in our purpose.
Priya described how people close to her have struggled to understand her purpose and at times there’s been great pressure for her to compromise on her essence. She has remained strong and said that for instance, she would never date a guy who couldn’t understand her charitable work in India.
A general belief is that marriage is supposed to be a compromise. We are taught that if we don’t compromise in our relationship we can’t expect to be happy. I strongly disagree. I took that poor advice in my first marriage and felt I was constantly compromising my personality, values and even my talents. I believe one can live happily with a partner only when both parties respect what the other person is about, 100%. Adjusting is necessary but a marriage should never be based on anybody doing a compromise on their personality, values and their core essence.
Do you feel outside pressure to compromise on your purpose?
Try to stay still. Don’t panic. Close your eyes and search for your bright spot, remind yourself of a moment when you felt great, a moment when you expressed your persona and used your talents in a way that felt very natural to you. And you felt really good about it. Recharge yourself with this thought and then ask yourself, are you being expected to do something against your deepest beliefs or against your passion. If the answer is yes, wait. Don’t give in. Try to think adjustment (temporary, not compromising on who you are), not a compromise.
And then wait that the storm will pass. It always does. Stay true to your chosen course.
Have a great, authentic week!