It occurs to me that most of the major things that happen in life are major because they affect our identity. Graduation, a promotion, marriage, parenthood...all of those things have great influence on how we see ourselves. Our perception of who we are.

Conversely, if we are going to truly struggle with something...well, that has to do with identity too. For example, one of the reasons unemployment is so devastating has nothing to do with the financial aspect. It has to do with the rejection. It impacts how we see our worth.

"Empty nest" is major for some, and not for others. Isn't that about identity? For parents whose identity is mostly as a "mom" or as a "dad" the transition to a home without children will be much more frightening than parents who have a strong identity with a different role that they play.

Extramarital affairs are all about identity. The betraying spouse sees themselves as younger, more attractive, more powerful--thus the reason they are drawn to do something so destructive in the first place. The betrayed spouse feels unlovely, unwanted, not good enough...thus the reason affairs take so long to recover from--even post-divorce.

Seemingly little things--like an interaction at the office or incidents from school --often stick with us and replay in our minds because they impact our sense of who we are.

Who we are--at least how we see ourselves--matters.

And all the internal pep talks in the world won't change core beliefs about our identity. We can't "cheer" ourselves to a better self concept because most of our ideas about identity are built from external sources.

Dr. Bill Gillham used to say, that if you sit with a baby and point to your nose and say, "nose" the baby doesn't learn that you have a nose, he learns that he has a nose. Children learn about the world in terms of their place in it.

Perhaps the best gift we can give each other is a sense of identity. Pointing out all the wonderful things in the people around us that make them lovely and unique. In families and organizations, building a common sense of mission and purpose--so that people feel like they truly belong.

Perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves is to see our identity as something that is emerging rather than something that is etched in stone. To focus on our own becoming... To do things that take us closer to the beautiful design of who we were always meant to be.

It occurs to me that the whole concept of redemption is about restoring true identity. And that the most destructive force in the universe works to distort our true reflection.

1 comment

njh said...

Whoa, Cathy. You are an amazing thinker and communicator.

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall