There’s a word that kept resurfacing in the past few months and I’ve decided to pay attention. The idea of “unbecoming” has been coming to me in internet quotes, books I’ve read, conversations I’ve had. Although, the expression has been adopted in a pejorative way to mean unflattering, it stuck.
Unbecoming is defined as:
: not attractive : not becoming
What if “unbecoming” was the key to our happiness?
What if unbecoming was the gateway to inner peace?
I think it is. Here’s how I got to this conclusion.
The first few years of our lives are spent “learning”. We learn all our lives, on many levels, but the types of learning we do early on is less aware. It’s much less about who we are than it is about how to function. In the process, we inevitably “become” someone. We’re named a birth, into a family, in a place, with a cultural background. We learn what all these references mean. We situate ourselves. We relate to others from our predetermined, subjective, point of reference; the someone we’ve (been) identified as. As we go through life, this someones’ story becomes heavier and heavier with experiences and this someone’s actions, decisions, and reactions become defined by each other. The frame of reference becomes more defined but also more limited in possibilities. The person (soul) who limits themselves to their identity’s frame of reference, whatever format is used here (cars, jobs, family…), stops listening to their guidance. The truth is, the story we tell ourselves about who we are only matters to our “someones”. Who we are – souls – don’t care about stories or typical forms. Our souls don’t care about our family histories, our jobs, our salaries, the houses we live in or the car we drive. Our souls use these as means to an end. Our souls don’t even regard “reasonable possibilities”. We are so much more than the identities we assume and we tend to limit ourselves because that’s what we learn.
Unbecoming is actively shedding parts of our assumed identities that no longer work for us. (Have they ever, really?) It can be compared to someone’s sense of style; for most of us, it’s clearer through choices what suits us. We decide to eliminate, we actively choose to not participate in trends, we refine what feels right and looks good on us. (At least, that’s the hope!) And of course, some styles work for us at certain stages of our lives and not others… we try on personalities and lifestyles and work our way to what ultimately, is “really us”. I see the process of “unbecoming” like me refining my soul’s personal style by taking away the superfluous, the tacky, the ‘age-inappropriate’, the unflattering and the uncomfortable. In so doing, I’m allowing the classic pieces and the few daring ones that act as my secret weapons to nail the “style” that is just right.
Now, hold the phone, I haven’t mastered this skill yet. There are layers of this to be done, at least in my case!
To me, unbecoming means….
That I’ve declined the invitation to conform, to be nice, to keep my head down just for the sake of it.
That I’m bolder about my life choices.
That I’m more honest in my words and actions, and that I’m firmer in my boundaries.
That I say no a lot, but I also say yes to more of what I want or need.
That my heart feels lighter and lighter.
That my head feels clear.
That my body feels strong and healthy.
That my decisions are in line with my values.
That I’m facing my fears about being apologetically who I am.
That I’m facing my fears about being responsible for my life.
That I’m getting closer to my core.
It remains a process that looks a lot like cha-cha, but its by-product is a beautiful dance of mySelf.
Unbecoming might just become a key word for me in my spiritual practice. What can I shed today / this week / this month / this year? Is this choice honouring me, deep down? What does my gut say?
What does unbecoming mean to you? Do you feel like there are habits or beliefs you could shed to be happier and lead a harmonious life?