Who are we and how do we know?

So, today I gave a talk to some good people in Vancouver Washington to kick off the Employment as a Recovery Tool conference they’re having. There are lots of displays and workshops.  I was the keynote speaker and was told to “do the thing I do about roles” and “be motivating”.  Since I live nearby the good people at Clark County have heard many of my speeches and workshops and knew exactly what they wanted.

As I put my slides together, I got to thinking.  What about me.  Am I really who I think I am and how do I know?  So much of who I am is in my head and I don’t know how much of it actually comes out.  Conversely, does the stuff that comes out reflect who I am in my head?

We all have interior and exterior ways that we see ourselves and define ourselves.  It’s like we’re in a bubble under water and there is a pressure outside that defines us and a pressure inside that defines us and the trick is to keep both pressures equal.  Sometimes, when I get a glimpse of how I look or how people see me from the outside, it’s really startling.  People often define me far differently that I define myself.

Maybe that’s why some people hate to have their picture taken or why we think one photo of our self is better than another.  The “bad” picture may not represent who we are in our heads.

So, what creates that inside identity?  Where do we get those inside messages?  Ironically, they come from the outside, initially.  Family, doctors, environment, experiences all work hard as interior decorators.  Then we add our own distortions or perspectives that come with age, heartbreak, triumph, betrayal and/or love and we wind up with the finely tuned “secret identify” we carry around with us.

I recently decided to out my secret identity.  I got really sick with a high fever and had an insight to the fact that I really did have a secret identity that it was driving all my decisions and defining my choices.  I realized my secret identity was a lie!  Once the fever broke, the lie was still a lie and I began to heal on several levels.   I started to tell people the truth about my internal beliefs.  As soon as I called it a lie, I felt better.  I started to tell people about the lie and they agreed that it was a lie.  So, slowly my life is getting bigger.  I am getting stronger and more confident.

Choosing to define myself rather than let other people define me is scary, but really liberating.  I’m not afraid of making mistakes so much now that other people’s opinions are fairly irrelevant.   Here’s the kicker.  I created my own secret identity and I now choose to change it.  Now THAT’s self – determination.