"Presence is more than just being there."
Recently, I have been feeling unfocused in my life. I keep trying to predict and plan what I *think* various people want me to be and act like. I keep trying to prioritize and plan (and prioritize and plan, and prioritize and plan, etc.) all my ongoing projects. So much thinking leads me to feel like a tangled mess. I'm left looking at my ass from below.
So, last week I took my seat to meditate and a short time later the phrase, "presence over personality", floated effortlessly into my mind's eye. (It continually amazes me that only a few minutes of meditation can bring infinite wisdom while hours of thought often yields little clarity.) What I realized in that moment is that we all want the same thing. We all want undivided attention, listening, and presence from the people in our lives, including our own selves. We want to be heard and seen for who we are without being judged.
This manifests in many ways: less talking/more listening, less planning about how we're going to respond when someone is done talking and more non-verbal acknowledgement of what they are saying. In other words, thinking less of how others will perceive us and more about how we can be an open vessel to receive their message. This turns the focus away from ourselves (I/me) and towards others (you/them). This benefits both parties.
First it takes pressure off ourselves to be or act a certain way. We simply arrive and open to the present moment and person. Secondly, being present for others lets them feel heard and loved. Our presence connects us to them and them to us.
When we identify with our 'personality', we limit our view of life and possibilities. This is especially true of our own relationship to ourselves. Maybe you want to try a new sport but think, "oh, I was never athletic" or maybe you want to try meditation but don't because you believe you're not a patient person. There are so many stories we tell ourselves as if they're immutable fact. Luckily, they are just stories.
Next time you find yourself overwhelmed with life or lost in thought while someone is talking to you, try to slow down. Focus on your breath, talk less, plan less, do less. Open your ears and your heart. Let your personality fade in the background and simply be present.