The concept of “being silicone” came up during my podcast interview with Jessica Sun of Guru Please, and it reminded me of the origin and the importance of being “silicone.” I knew Barry socially; he was a customer service representative who took the brunt of some seriously angry and ill-behaved customers. He would get torched by outraged and rude people who took frustrations out on him like he was a human punching bag. But Barry never flinched, never got upset, and never took anything personally. Instead of viewing him as a mythical stoic, I initially viewed his disengagement as a sign that he lacked integrity or strength. He would get chewed to bits and never bark or bite back. As a result, I derisively referred to him as being silicone: impervious to heat, impact, punctures, and cuts, and always retaining his form. I even imagined him as a silicone version of Patrick the starfish from Sponge Bob Squarepants.
But, the joke was on me. It wasn’t until my life crumbled into pieces that I could see the value in being silicone. I spent years in a crucible with escalating heat and pressure, and while I always viewed myself as hard as steel, I couldn’t endure it and retain my form, let alone be non-reactive. I melted and then broke down further. I emitted toxic fumes which polluted all my relationships and all the systems I fit into. I was much weaker than silicone.
My constant struggle for worth and love by achieving endless goals and objectives took its toll on me. If I was steel, then the wear and tear of abuse was immediately visible and my resiliency deteriorated. Once I was worn down enough, it didn’t take much to break. That’s where being silicone is a huge advantage.
After I swept up the pieces of my life, I thought I would need to forge myself into a new alloy, something stronger than steel (adamantium or vibranium maybe? (clearly a reference for Marvel fans)). That was a misconception though, because becoming unbreakable did not require that I be stronger. Barry was proof.
Barry wasn’t “tough” and he certainly didn’t seem enlightened or even aware that he was unbreakable. I didn’t know his secret and I was too ashamed to ask. I didn’t know if I needed to enroll in a monastery to master the art of detachment or unaffected disengagement; I don’t think Barry did. I had no clue on how to become my version of silicone.
I reflected on my old mindset that believed I was unbreakable by being hard as steel. I had no legitimate reason to believe it, no schooling, indoctrination, or test of will other than foolishly believing it. Yet, I believed it and confidently demonstrated it. Just by telling myself that I was as tough as nails, I would remain steadfast under intense pressures. Without a clear answer, I tried the same approach with silicone, just simply believing that I was silicone. Instead of seeing myself as cold hard steel, I imagined myself as a solid body of dense silicone.
When I clung to the mindset of being as hard as steel, I naturally resisted against any stress or force. That resistance alone created pain in trying to remain unmovable and unaffected. By simply reimagining myself as silicone, there was no need for resistance. As silicone, I could absorb the stress. I could take a pounding. I could get burnt, cut, and twisted and retain my shape. I could go with the flow of the force, knowing I didn’t need to fight it. Regardless of how intense the stress or force was, by being silicone, I was unbreakable. I let go of the need to prove how strong I was, and I accepted the idea that I was better than strong, I was unbreakable. I was flexible, pliable, durable, and elastic. And when the stress or pressure or force subsided, I would spring back into shape.
The mindset of simply believing that I was silicone was enough. I didn’t need to earn it through years of meditation or have it divined on me through visions or a feat of endurance. My ridicule of Barry became one of the most valuable lessons of my life.
Now, when I feel pressure or stress, and I catch myself fighting it, resisting it to demonstrate my strength and willpower, I remind myself that I can relax in the truth that I’m unbreakable – I’m silicone. I was made for this.