Defining Yourself in Relation to Others

Our sense of self is a complex thing. Clearly, it lasts for as long as we live but it can evolve slowly (or sometimes quite rapidly) depending on the situations and circumstances we find ourselves in. When it comes down to it we’re in charge of our own behavior and our own happiness. Sure, things happen that we have little or no control over but this isn’t really a feature of most people’s lives. We make our own choices. It’s these choices that ultimately lead us towards fulfilling careers, nurturing relationships, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Very often the things that hold us back are the beliefs that reside in our head. It’s that inner dialog that chatters away in the background and tells us we’re not really supposed to be doing this or that, or we aren’t competent or capable, or we’ll look foolish and embarrass ourselves in the process. This lack of confidence and self-regard is something we don’t have to live with. It’s not in our DNA, it’s the product of learning. Learning is a skill, therefore there is no reason why we can’t ‘unlearn’ the things that make us feel inadequate, or hold us back, or hurt us if we make a mistake. Re-skilling can take time but it can be done.

We are not born with a set of capabilities from which there is no escape. But, somewhere along the way, we do have to acknowledge that if change is to happen, we as individuals have to make those changes. It’s down to us, but let’s not expect too much too quickly. Setting your goals to be more than you currently feel is a good thing but nobody in life sees their developmental path glide upwards in a steady trajectory. The way we cope with the turbulence that hits us is very important.

Emotional turbulence

. . .can be very damaging. We don’t tend to think of it as turbulence because we use words like anxiety, fear, regret, worry, depression and so forth. These are energy sapping words but they buffet and throw us around in the way turbulence does. Like turbulence we’re actually safer than it feels. Like turbulence it will pass. It’s important to place ourselves within some kind of context. Remember why we made the decisions we made, the person we were back then, and why we’re on the journey. Looking back when we’re on such a journey can put things into perspective.

Testing out the new you can feel strange but it’s a kind of nice-strange. Your identity has probably been shaped by the opinions and expectations of others but you can shift the focus quite easily. The next time she says you look better in blue, you say ‘I’ll go with the red’. When he says ‘shall I order for us both’, you say ‘pass me the menu’. These little tricks are the way you begin to define yourself. A smidge of assertion along with a smile and you’re changing!

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