Don’t Let Your Self Image Define Your Life

It’s been one week from my last post “Some People Go Through Life; And Other People Grow Through Life”. Since then, I have been laying relatively low and haven’t done anything out of the ordinary except really really struggle with maintaining a positive mindset.

There were one to many times this week that I caught myself thinking “Kristyn, what are you doing? Why are you 11140277_10153941677762276_1257931688572446790_n.jpgthinking that way? Just relax, let it go.” I like to live by the mantra that if something won’t bother me in 50 years than it shouldn’t bother me now. Way to much time and energy is put into thinking in a negative way. I know this, so why am I finding myself stuck queuing behind someone in line and thinking “Oh my god, can you not move any faster?” or find myself in a store thinking “I’m having a pudgy day, maybe I’ll come back and try it on tomorrow instead.” or reflecting on old incidences thinking “Why do I always give people the benefit of doubt, I should just trust people less.” or even while at work having to deal with colleagues I don’t particularly enjoy thinking “shut up. shut up. shut up. I’m going to throw this plate at you”. These are not the type of thoughts I want to be having and each time it happens I feel like I’m failing at being the best me that I can be.

This brings me to this weeks reading of Robert Holden’s Shift Happens – How to Live an Inspired Life… Starting right now. From pages 17-37 he discusses the importance of distinguishing between your experiences and your identity.

“You have felt pain. You have made mistakes. You have experienced failure. You have had illnesses. The experiences are like nightmares. But they are not your identity. They are not who you are or what you are.” 

I find the above section of the novel extremely important. No one has the perfect life. Everyone makes mistake and has done things that have negatively impacted themselves or someone else. You hold onto these things. You carry them with you as if they are a part of you and you think about them often. These mistakes and failures further impact other decisions you make and your thoughts towards other people, but from Dr. Holden’s perspective they don’t have to.

“To experience healing & holiness, you have to be willing to give up your attachment to the self

  • that has made mistakes
  • that has been betrayed
  • that has experienced failures
  • that has suffered illnesses
  • that has messed up
  • that has been abused
  • that was once unpopular
  • that has been victimized
  • that was rejected
  • that was wrongly accused
  • that did not get the love

14721529_10154665897007276_1885124028479198666_nTake time today to honour your experiences. They are not you. Above all, you are not an illness, you are not made of pain, and you are not your mistakes. You are far to beautiful for that.”

I’ve pondered this section of the novel over and over again all week thinking how can I just get over of some of the things that have happened to me and honour them. It wasn’t until this evening (about 5 days after reading this for the first time) that I was able to understand that it isn’t necessarily about getting over it, but more about being able to accept what happen, let it go and move on in my life without letting it interfere.

I can’t lie and say that I have been able to honour all situations that I think of when I read the above list, but it is something that I am working on. Somethings are more difficult to let go of than others. I don’t like knowing that I’ve hurt people. I forgive easily, but I don’t like thinking about how others have hurt me. I know that accepting, letting go, and moving on from all in the list above will come with time and effort.

Another concept he discusses is that “whatever you identify with you attract more of. Thus, when you identify with suffering, you attract more suffering – not because you especially like it, but because it feels familiar”. This is something that I’ve been really trying to focus on and understand. When you actually think about it and look for it, is it relatively obvious and can even be seen by scrolling through social media. There are always those people (and each to their own) that are constantly posting negatively without offering a positive voice of change or action that could be taken to dispose of the negativity that is going on in their lives. Its as if they are so deep in despair that they have lost hope. If you can familiarize yourself with this it is important to remember that “you are not your suffering”and you must distinguish between your experiences and identity.

Dr. Holden suggests you think about what you would say if asked the question “Who are you?”.

My Response: I’m a girl… I guess maybe now a woman would be the more proper term. I’m a traveller. I’m a hard worker. I’m adventurous. etc.

That’s not the answer he was looking for and he too answered it incorrectly when he was first asked the question himself by a prestigious holy man in India.

He goes on to discuss that to properly answer this question you must look past your labels, your self-image and who you think you are to see the truth of who you really are – your Unconditional Self. “Your Unconditional Self is your original potential. This Unconditional Self is the real “you”. It is the essential you that out lives the body. It is the memory of [the universe] that you forget about as you grow up and stuff happens.”

Throughout life you are constantly making decisions for yourself:

  • who you are
  • what you want
  • what you can do
  • what you deserve and what you don’t

13962760_10154490670357276_2257219777870199002_nHow you decide these things creates your self-image and your opinion of your self. The self that you think of when asked Who Are You?. The sad truth is that the way you see yourself can create your reality by causing you to believe only certain things are possible for yourself, while others are not.

If I had have been closed-minded about my potential there is no way that I would be where I am now. High school me thought that the only things important in life were grades, boys, and partying. I thought that at this point in my life (almost 21 years old) I’d be preparing to write the MCAT and OAT to get into medical or optometry school. That I’d be just getting into a seriously committed relationship to live happily every after and have little doctor-lawyer babies. BUT INSTEAD I let go of a scholarship to travel the world. I have been to 8 countries in the last year. I’ve moved across my home country for just under 5 months and have more recently moved across the world on my own to follow my dream of living in Australia. I’ve found new passions. I’ve found new joys. This is why I can’t stress enough how important it is to be open to trying new things. To not be afraid to explore. But more importantly to not let your self-image define your life, define how much happiness is “realistic”, or  define how vast your potential is.  In the wise word of Dr. Holden “be careful then not to make up your mind about yourself (and others) too quickly.”

Until next week,

xx Backpacking Breeze



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