Do you find yourself held back by society's standards and rules? Do you wish to break free from the norm and do things your way, at your own pace?
Most people are not given a chance to be themselves, but you can break free from the rigid systems and standards the world deems necessary to live your best life.
In this article, Jay Shetty sits down with Lilly Singh, an actress, producer, writer, entertainer, and creator, to talk about breaking free from the shackles of the world's expectations to become the person you want to be.
Singh is a massive social media star with over 38 million followers. She currently stars in Dollface, a Hulu comedy where she plays Liv. She is also part of the cast for DreamWorks Animation action-comedy Bad Guys and recently released her second book, Be A Triangle. She shares how she learned to heal from negative thought patterns, self-sabotage, and identity issues by adopting guidelines to create peace in her life.
Be a Triangle
The pandemic brought forth different things for different people. Singh realized she didn't have a solid foundation to build for the rest of her life.
“I had no events, and I'm a workaholic,” Singh tells Jay Shetty. “I was bored, but it went deeper than that. It was that feeling of not having any value. I couldn’t measure myself in any way because I didn't have events or work. I was just kind of floating in space, unsure of what to do or how to think of myself and life.”
Singh explains the only thing she associated value with was work. She had not thought about what kind of person she wanted to be.
“I got to thinking that the root of it is I never had a solid foundation,” Singh explains to Jay Shetty. “I didn't have a handle on what my belief system was or what I wanted my values to be, not just professionally, but spiritually, and mentally. I questioned what I really cared about and what's important, and that's all about building a foundation.”
One of the strongest structural shapes is the triangle. It has a solid foundation to hold everything that piles on top of it. Singh knew she wanted to build a strong foundation like a triangle so that moving forward in life, all of her experiences would be put on top of a strong foundation.
When Singh decided to name her book Be A Triangle, she had to fight for the title.
“I sent an email to my team and explained that I know this title is not immediately understandable, but no other title will suffice,” Singh tells Jay Shetty. “The response I got was that it is kind of confusing, but I stuck to my guns and I'm so happy I did because it is what the book is about.”
Lilly Singh is South Asian, and her community values having a degree. For Lilly Singh’s parents, it is the be-all, end-all. If you don't have a degree, you are not educated. You establish a family and have children to keep the family name going. Their belief is that is how you contribute back to the world.
Singh tells Jay Shetty she never took the time to understand why her parents thought this way until she started writing her book.
”It has a lot to do with generational trauma,” Singh explains. “My parents were born in Punjab, India. They didn't have the luxuries of today. They were in a country with a billion people. There were limited resources and a problem to be solved every day. The things that mattered were family, sticking together, survival, education, getting a good job, money, and food on the table.”
Today we can focus on our mental health and contribute to the world with a YouTube video that motivates people.
“I talk in the book about school,” Singh tells Jay Shetty. “When you look back, you're measured by grades. At work, you're measured by promotions and salaries, and that's how you measure growth and success. But as a kid, it was never like, ‘Hey, Lily, today, you were really patient. and that marks growth.’ That stuff didn't matter. It didn't matter If you grew mentally or spiritually, it was always measured by something else.”
Jay Shetty agrees mental and spiritual growth are things you can measure.
“What a beautiful switch of mindset,” Jay Shetty says. “You can measure every day if you feel more patient, more kind, or if you feel more supportive or supported.”
That mindset switch doesn't mean you have to have one without the other. You can have promotions, awards, and spiritual and mental growth, but you need to evaluate if the reward is what you value or is it a consequence of having great values.
Establish the values you want to base your life on, and lay that foundation to build the rest of your life.
Dismantling Your Value System
Are the things taking priority in your life the things you truly value? If the answer is no, how do you get the courage to look inside and dismantle your value system?
“It can be really, really scary,” Lilly Singh explains to Jay Shetty. “That's why people hesitate to do it. Because it's so strange, be honest with yourself. You're allowed to value whatever you want. It's just doing the work to understand what those things mean, and if also those things should be the driving forces behind your happiness.”
Are you going to feel your purpose gone if you aren't working? Will your world crash if you don't win the awards? Look at those things as a consequence of what you value instead of what you value. If they happen, great. If they don’t, it doesn't affect you.
“I think it was scary for me to figure out my values, just really difficult because there is no map to do that,” Singh explains to Jay Shetty. “I remember sitting down to write Be A Triangle, and for two days, I would just stare at a blank screen thinking if this were a math problem I would be able to Google. We have never been taught as kids how to do any of this work, so that's what I'm attempting to go through in this book.”
The world is evolving, and we as people need to embrace change. Not only change in the world around us but within ourselves.
“We don't need to assign these labels so easily to things,” Lilly Singh tells Jay Shetty. “I know we like to categorize things in our brains as right or wrong, lack or white, easy or hard. But really, it's allowing yourself and giving yourself permission to think differently and evolve.”
The most challenging change for Singh to embrace is how she defines success. For much of her life, success was defined by a paycheck, the house, the car, the accolades, and the awards in her career.
“It's not that I think I was wrong for thinking that, but my definition of success has changed,” Singh explains to Jay Shetty. “All those things are great. But if I have all of those things, and I’m not happy, and I'm not having fun, then I'm not successful. I'm in a different place in my life. I have different values and different priorities, and that's okay.”
The stigma that you are lazy if you didn't have the career, the house, the car, and the accolades kept Singh from embracing change for so long. But it is not about those things.
“You are a human that is evolving, and you're in different circumstances,” Singh says to Jay Shetty. “You cannot grow and expect to stay the same. I think the internet has convinced us of that a lot. That there's either this or that, not fully appreciating that we're complex human beings that fall on various spots on various spectrums. And we are all in our own circumstances.”
Coming Out to Family
One of the most significant changes in Lilly Singh's life happened at the age of 30, when she came out to her parents that she is bisexual. She admits it was the hardest thing she ever had to do. Anxiety and fear overwhelmed her, leaving her without words, so she wrote a letter to her family, gave it to them, and retreated to her room while they read it.
“I vividly remember feeling a pang of guilt when my mom jokingly responded to the letter by saying, ‘Are you getting married?’”
For years, Singh felt there was something off in her relationships.
“I don't think I was honest for many years about what that situation was in my mind,” Singh tells Jay Shetty. “At the age of 29, I came out to myself, and I said ‘before my 30th birthday, I'm going to come out to all the people that matter in my life,’ and my parents were last.”
There were two versions of how the conversation would go in Singh's mind. It was all or nothing.
“It's going to go horribly. They're not going to understand. I thought about the things I needed to pack in my bag so I could leave the house,” Singh tells Jay Shetty. “Then the opposite was that ‘They are going to throw me a party because they're going to be so proud.’ The truth is, they came into my room and the first thing that my mom did was give me a big hug and said, ‘Why are you crying? You're my daughter, and I love you regardless.’”
Even though her parents took the news in stride, Singh admits that she didn’t give them the credit they deserved.
“They've never been introduced to this idea before, so we had the conversation,” Singh explains to Jay Shetty. “They did and said things of support. They did not disown me. They did not kick me out of the house. They did none of those things. But I left that conversation, needing an enemy. To be honest, I needed to distance myself from people, even though they were supportive. I was so insecure. I had just done this big thing in my life, and I couldn't be close to people that I felt like I was disappointing, even though they were not disappointed. That was a hard pill for me to swallow.”
The all-or-nothing concept is something Singh has struggled with, even when it comes to meditation.
“I've tried in the past to have a rigid routine where I wake up at a certain time, I meditate in a certain place, and it looks a certain way, but I failed,” Lilly Singh tells Jay Shetty. “I go to sleep at different times and my schedules vary. When I have a really rigid routine, sometimes I get bored. I need a little change. So for me while meditation is not every day, it is three to four days per week.”
Music creates the journey for Singh during meditation. It takes her through the highs and lows of the song. It allows her to visualize the four things that matter to her: the relationship to yourself, relationship to the universe, understanding distraction, and implementing a design.
Want to start meditating but not sure how to begin? Try meditating with Jay Shetty daily for seven minutes in The Daily Jay, Jay Shetty’s new mindfulness series on Calm. Save 40% off your subscription when you join now at https://calm.com/Jay.
The connection to the universe is finding a higher power to connect to, something that is greater than yourself. The link to self includes exploring how you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally. For Singh, understanding distraction is not the typical understanding of the definition, but rather a distraction takes you away from where you want to be spiritually.
“Stop telling yourself all the reasons you can't have those things, and just design your life in a way where it can happen,” Singh explains to Jay Shetty.
Society has rules and ideas no one challenges because it has always been how things are done. This mentality categorizes people into boxes, but you can unsubscribe from those ideas and do your own thing.
“It's scary, risky, and it feels like you're walking a path alone,” Singh explains to Jay Shetty. “But those are ideas. They're not facts. There is no rulebook saying you have to do this and can't do that. I have decided I'm going to live my life and let go of the ideas of the world and make my life the way I want it to be.”
Personal growth takes time and understanding of what you want your life to be. What do you value? Do you need to dismantle your current values to implement better ones? Embrace the changes along the way. Be a triangle. Build a solid base that will handle everything you stack on top of it. You can't grow if you stay in the same place.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on Lilly Singh ON “Giving Yourself Permission to Grow and How To Identify Limiting Beliefs that Keep You Stuck” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.