Are You Creatively Maladjusted?

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From earliest childhood, parents and other well-meaning adults instruct us on how to behave, what to do and say, how to avoid problems with others, cultivate good manners and relationships. As we become a little older, these early instructors are joined by fashion and makeup designers, the media and the advertising industry who tell us just how and who to be in order to gain the approval of others. All of this is supposed to help us navigate through life without emotional pain — as author Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith explains in his book, Spiritual Liberation, “to assure your ego’s survival and protection from getting hurt.” In other words, all of these well-meant efforts are geared towards our ego, but what about our Spirit?

Beckwith distinguishes between living from personality (ego) and living from character (Spirit). The word “personality” comes from the Latin word “persona,” a word that denoted the mask worn by actors. When we live from our personality or ego, we move through life based on acceptance by our peers, following the latest trends, looking for happiness that can be extracted from our experiences; when things get emotionally challenging or don’t feel safe, the personality-driven person will panic. And according to Beckwith, living from personality is “an agreement with mediocrity.”

The word “character” on the other hand represents our innate strengths and virtues. It is related to the French word “caractère” and means “imprint on the soul,” Beckwith says. Webster’s New World Dictionary lists the root of the word “character” as Greek, meaning “to engrave.” While our personality is the façade that we tend to display to the world, “character is revealed when the mask is removed.” When we live from character, we move through life even-minded; happiness is an inherent quality of our life, regardless of the situations in which we may find ourselves. Our character is longing to express its innate gifts, skills and desires.

To find out whether you are currently living from character or personality, you have to be willing to take an honest look at yourself. Find out what is running you: is it fashion and trends, being accepted by others, being “cool?” Have you made a conscious decision about what is running you? Are your own core values determining your life? Do you serve the world, or do you expect the world to serve you? Living from character means living in integrity with your true and divine nature.

To borrow Martin Luther King’s terminology, living from character means being a thermostat instead of a thermometer — while the thermometer merely reflects what is, the thermostat sets the status quo. Living from our true character means contributing to the improvement of our civilization, coming from compassion versus judgment; it means “that we draw an energetic circle large enough for everyone to fit into.” While not all people that have made history have been living from character, all positive forces in history (people that we revere for the social improvements they have instigated or fought for) have this in common, Beckwith says. They all dared to be different and put up with scorn and ridicule from people who were going through life based on personality. All these contributors to the betterment of civilization have been (or are) nonconformists and are “creatively maladjusted.”

What exactly does that mean? Living creatively maladjusted means two things. The first is the courage to defy society’s standards and step out of the stale conformist’s role; “living creatively maladjusted is beautiful because it creates space for you to be transformed by the moment-by-moment renewing of your mind, heart, and spirit.” The second thing that being creatively maladjusted means is entertaining “new ways of being in the world” since it is our “complete lack of creativity that keeps our world enmeshed in false fear, useless wars, greed and global warming.” The creatively maladjusted person will look and allow for new creative solutions to old issues, regardless of seeming impossibilities and past failures. In Beckwith’s view, becoming creatively maladjusted opens the way towards a “genuinely civilized global society.”

Are you ready to leave your mask behind and exhibit your true character, to live from Spirit instead of your ego? If so, you will find yourself in good company: Desmond Tutu, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein, together with countless other social innovators whose names have not entered the annals of history. As Beckwith states: “Being creatively maladjusted in a society that values materialism over evolution is the higher part of wisdom.”

Annette Kahmann, MA, CR HTPA combines her training in career counseling, literature and languages with energy healing to assess where people’s passions lie and guide them along their chosen path. 970-407-9973,