Last week we learned about how comparative thinking took root in our minds and developed into thought patterns and behaviors as children and teenagers – now we learn how it has played out in our decisions as young adults.
The story continues: Even though I was now seeing myself through another’s (more loving) eyes, instead of my own, it allowed me to get enough distance from the self-judgment. I started to realize that I really did have a lot more to offer. I started experimenting with my talents and gifts. I found that I had a gift for being a good friend, and listening to others. However, in order to please others and “be better” (judgment was still there), I carried it so far that I ended up sick. I still wasn’t listening to myself. I was seeing myself as others saw me, and I wanted to be what they saw. I wanted to embody what they needed or wanted. Again, I was living my life based on somebody else. This time, I was living my outsides, based on somebody else’s insides.
I think it’s at this point that we start to realize there’s something not quite right. Even though we can’t really pinpoint it – we know something is amiss. It’s also at this point where we start to experiment with who we are. Am I an actress? A businesswoman? A girlfriend? A friend? A daughter? A writer? A lawyer? Who am I? The identity questioning only gets compounded by the comparative thinking – but remember, this time, the roles have reversed. We are behaving more and more the way we think others want us to behave. So – naturally, our insides and outsides don’t sync up, and we slowly lose touch with our internal compass. Although we may no longer seem to have the low self-esteem we experienced in high school, we have a false self-esteem, generated by others’ perception of us, as we become what we think they want.
We spend much of our young adult life in this dance of becoming, reinventing, and becoming once more. Madonna mastered it. Nobody has reinvented herself more. The difference is, she was getting paid to do it – we’re not (well, most of us aren’t). So, where does that leave us? As young adults, on the heels of everything we’ve learned, we now spend our time walking through the revolving door of comparative thinking. Either we’re stuck in our old patterns of looking at others and comparing what we feel to what we see, or we’re stuck looking at others and comparing what they feel to what they see (or what we present). Did you follow that? Read it again. Now — can someone just stop the revolving door, for a minute?!?
Ahh. And that’s when it happens. We pause. We stop long enough to realize that this isn’t who we are, or what we are – it’s all based on forces beyond our control. It’s either based on somebody else, or something else. Sometimes awareness comes in the shape of illness, or tragedy. Other times it comes in the form of blessings and love. Either one is a gift – because both have given us enough time and space to become aware of the our patterns of behavior and beliefs. And once we’re aware, we now have the ability to make changes. We’ll discuss those changes next week. For now:
Body – Have you dressed a certain way, in order to please somebody else? Or kept your hair a certain way, or your body? Is it how YOU want to look? What changes would you make? Would you make any?
Mind – Using the above example, if you’re maintaining an image for someone other than yourself, what is that doing to your mind and your self-esteem? Are you being authentic and honoring who you are, by trying to be somebody you’re not?
Spirit – We can only do our best, every day. There is nothing more, and nothing less. When we are living authentically, we are doing our best – if we can be strong enough to honor that truth within us, we will stop the revolving door, and eventually remove it from our life. Can you imagine what that would be like? Just for a moment?