Posts tagged Identity

Ideally, we'd agree.

Ideally, everything would go the way we planned it.

Ideally, everyone would want the same things we want.

Ideally, we’d have all the info.

Ideally, nothing would go wrong.

Ideally, everyone would always act rationally. 

But then, of course, we'd all be the same, and I think the world would be a much more drab and colorless place. 

The world doesn't work this way. We don't always agree. Surprises happen. Things do go wrong. What an opportunity we have, on each occasion, to decide for ourselves how we want to show up in the world. 

It's tempting for us to give our power here over to the circumstances, or others who acted wrongly, or our fear. The truth is - our decisions are ours to own; what a gift.

So, yes, things are hardly ideal. Now, how do we choose to show up?

Anchors and sails

The stories we tell ourselves are powerful forces.

Like an anchor they can hold us from moving, and like sails they can propel us forward.

When we feel weighed down or stuck in place, it might be worth getting curious about the stories we’re telling. And how a different one might free us out to sea.

The great discoveries of our world, after all, were never made in a harbor.

High self opinions

There’s two broad flavors of high opinions of self — one fraudulent and one legitimate.

The fraudulent one, arrogance, isn’t actually a high opinion of self. It’s (over)exerted that way, but really, the roots are all in fear and insecurity.

On the other hand, there’s confidence. Confidence, at its source, is freedom from the outcomes. In this case, our identity, value, and worth are solid regardless of how others treat us. The roots of confidence are in love — both for ourselves and others. Our legitimate love for ourself frees us to more wholly love others. It’s a generous cycle.

Sadly arrogance has shed a bad light on having a high opinion of self, when really, it’s an incredibly generous act. So what can we do?

See arrogance for what it is — fear.

Recognize that we’re afraid too — choose empathy, without judgment.

Celebrate confidence — the real, generous kind.

The more it’s celebrated, the more it will spread.

Healthy doesn’t happen on accident

I’ve recently come to the awareness that I have terrible sitting posture. I often slouch slightly, hunch my shoulders, and contort my upper body. I do all of this in the name of being comfortable of course.

As I’ve become more intentional about adopting healthy practices throughout my life, recently stretching, I’m noticing multiple ways that my poor posture is catching up to me. Not only is my flexibility limited (putting it kindly), as I try to practice stretching and healthy posture, I’m noticing parts of my body become quite sore from the endeavor.

The lesson — we are what we repeatedly do.

Whatever we practice daily, will be the fruits of what we produce in our life; for better or worse. Choose with intent.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash
“It’s just who I am”

More appropriately — It’s who you choose to be.

Leave out the ‘just’, because it’s not trivial.

And leave out the fixed mindset, because that’s a choice we make not something we’re resigned to.

In fact, believing that we are who we are and that’s that is merely one way to see ourselves.

We’re also free to grow if we choose.

Photo by Jasper van der Meij on Unsplash

It’s tempting to take one look at a pile of driftwood on a beach, and assume its productive days are behind it. There’s nothing for them in the future.

We’d be wrong however. Driftwood, at worst, will decompose over time into nutrients that become reintroduced to the growth of the planet. Not a bad worst case scenario. They can also be the foundation for sand dunes, and some even take on a whole new life of beauty.

What’s the point?

It can be convenient for us to look at something/someone that appears useless now, and totally discard them. Like a pile of driftwood. The point is that just because it’s the present state of the thing doesn’t mean it’s the permanent state of the thing.

We too can take on a whole new life of beauty. And for us, the choice is ours.

Photo by Eva Waardenburg on Unsplash
A framework for growth

Yesterday I wrote about split-second decisions and the challenge they sometimes present.

It’s always going to be somewhat challenging to decipher the decision we’ll be most proud of making in these instances, however there is a framework that we can follow to help increase our odds. If we work through it ahead of time, we’ll have some readymade reference points to guide us towards a decision we’ll be proud of. Here it is:

It starts with getting intentionally clear with ourselves about who we want to be in this world. Write it down, and be specific.

Over time then, the work is to fill in the gap between who we are today and who we want to be tomorrow. We learn to look for the values, postures, and beliefs that lead us toward the person we want to be. These can serve as our filters and shortcuts to getting to the heart of a matter.

And then we practice applying them — these are the split-second decisions. We practice over and over. And slowly, drip by drip by drip as we try on our new reference points, we find the ones that light the way towards the decisions that make us proud.

The things that aren't said

As humans in the 21st Century, we have become masters at hiding in plain sight. The existence of the internet, more social media platforms than we can count, and endless amounts of data about each one of us, we have — as a survival instinct — learned the art of personal branding. And so we carefully craft public personas for ourselves that often reveal everything that we’re really proud of, and nothing that we’re not.

Much smarter people than I have written about the harm we unwittingly do to ourselves when we live this way.

Just as important though — the harm those we care about may unwittingly be doing to themselves. If the temptation exists for us to hide from the world, our world, the things we’re not proud of, then it probably exists for others. And probably much closer to home than we want to accept.

So what can we do?

Look for the hiding. We’ve been trained to mask our fears behind veiled hints and cryptic phrases, so as to look stoic and strong to a random passer-by. These things matter to us though, we actually want to get them out of us, we’re merely afraid. We could use some help. Repeated thoughts or words, personality tics, passionate opinions/reactions, they can all be signs of something bigger going on inside of us that wants us.

We can look for this in those we care for. Take the time to see them, listen, and press in with curiosity to the places that seem like they matter. They probably do. If we can create a safe place for others to be vulnerable, we can then begin to find a new place to stand with them as a different way forward.

Go first. We can make a difference for others by choosing to do the courageous work of modeling what healthy looks like. Rather than stuffing our guilt, shame, and fears deeps inside of us, share them with those we care about and trust. Reframe for them the belief that doing so is weak; it’s actually strong. In doing so, we take a step towards creating a safe environment for us to do it again, and for them to do the same.

It’s hard, it’s risky, and often, it’s terrifying. It’s also an incredibly generous gift to give both ourselves and others.

We might find that the things that aren’t often said are the exact things that make all the difference.

Energy reserves

Here’s two reserve tanks we can rely on anytime we’re feeling tired:

1 Training
2 Clarity of purpose

Whether its the practice of repetition or the building of discipline, training sharpens our skills so that they’re still reliable tools for us even as our energy dulls.

At almost any time in life, there are activities which we participate in that are luxuries to us and our core purpose. These are nice, and even beneficial. But as the pressure rises and our energy wains, our ability to focus on what should — even must — be done is an invaluable asset.

Both are decisions we make far before the time where we’re most in need of them. The trick is to anticipate this moment coming far in advance and choose with intent what we’re going train, and why.

The choice is ours

The “self-theories” we develop in our head go a long way toward determining the reality of our future.

Of all our self-theories, the most important is the one we build about ourselves — our identity.

What do we believe about ourselves?

Who are we showing up as?

Who do we want to be?

What does the future hold for us?

Our answers to all of these are rooted in the self-theories living insides of our head. We’ve built them, decision by decision. And we can change them the same way. If only we dare to own them.

We’re stuck with them either way; we might as well make them ours.