To Become Someone New, We Have to Un-become Who We Are Now

To see our hidden beauty, we have to do some house cleaning.

James E. McGinley, PhD


Young asian woman staring into the camera.
Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

Life is funny. We spend a lot of the present living in the future. In many ways, our lives are aspirational. We are constantly thinking about the future and what we can do better. Sometimes our view of the future is dimmed by regret over a past that we cannot change.

We want to change. But often, who we are now is blocking our path to who we can become.

Becoming someone new means we have to un-become who we are now.

Unfortunately, who we are today is usually a patchwork quilt of all the good and bad things we have learned over the course of our lives. Before we can make ourselves shine, we sometimes have to toss out a few things. This means that we have to unlearn a lot of things.

But that is ok. Honestly, a lot of what we have learned we learned from other people who did not know what they were doing either. The result is a carnival of errors. It is the proverbial blind leading the blind.

We end up like a project that was put together by trial and error without following the directions. We are functional but a little clunky; we know we can be better.

We can find beauty in subtraction, not in addition.

Imagine this. You are given a blank canvas and told to create a beautiful picture. You would immediately start drawing, creating beauty by adding beautiful things. Makes perfect sense, right? This is beauty by addition.

Now let’s suppose you were given a picture that was already created and were told to make it beautiful. You would likely start by removing all the ugliness from it. This is beauty by subtraction. Sometimes we have to remove old ugliness to make room for new beauty.

Removing ugliness inherently creates beauty.

We are like that too. Sometimes we have to unlearn and remove a few things to make room for the new person that we want to become.

We always are shining on the inside; we just need to find it.



James E. McGinley, PhD

James McGinley, PhD is a professor, author, certified life coach, and licensed counselor.