What Are You Overcompensating For? (Ikigai Writing Prompt)
(Excerpt from Burn the Ladder)
Secrets hold tremendous power over us. They motivate us to do things we wouldn’t normally do. As we face the world, we overcompensate for our secrets and insecurities. We join lots of clubs and organizations to prove that we have a broad network of important friends. We exhaust ourselves with activities to prove that we are good at something. We assert our independence to demonstrate that we aren’t controlled. We buy name brand items to show how much money we have. We date people that are completely wrong for us just to show we aren’t destined to be alone. And on. And on. We go to great lengths – even create whole personas - to cover our tracks.
There is an expression, “People project that which they fear they have the least of.” So if you want to explore your secret, think about the thing you are projecting out into the world. Because the thing you are assuring everyone you have might just be the thing you’re worried you lack. And the thing you are worried about them knowing might be the most interesting part of you.
If you intend to become self-aware and uncover your reason for being, you must go toe to toe with the insecurities that drive your overcompensation. You must face your continual involvement in activities that go against your authentic self but align with the mask you put on each day to face the world because that is who you think you should be. This process will reveal the childhood scars that haunt us in our nightmares, that still sting, even if hidden deep under the surface. In those secrets and pains lie seeds of your purpose and meaning. Those experiences that shaped your character also carved the tools you are meant to offer back to the world.
If you are in denial about aspects of yourself that are painfully obvious to everyone around you, you can bet these blinders are standing between you and the life you want to live. It is the act of surrender, of voicing the fears, the complexes, and the biases, that frees you from the chains that will otherwise drive your decisions for the rest of your life, whether you recognize it or not. Facing these things is an exercise in self-discovery, and self-discovery leads to self-realization, which is absolutely vital to finding your path.
So let’s get to the unveiling your secrets, because until you’ve identified them, you are going to struggle with the kind of honest self-reflection that is necessary to find your reason for being. Even more importantly, by identifying that secret, you can put it to work on your behalf. That secret is mighty. In it lays a unique way for you to leave a mark on the world.
What are you overcompensating for? What do you hope the world will never learn about you? What would it feel like to stop being driven by this fear?