The Definition Confusion
“You’re defined by what you do for a living.”
No truer a statement. All the words are there, but those words can mean different things to different people.
In Monsterville You means self, our values as a human. For a living means being true to that self, to our pursuit of happiness through living by our values, doing what matters. Defined means being able to look at ourselves in our accountability mirror and say “I lived up to that today”.
The great defining moment for all of us (I imagine) comes right before we die. When we look back over our lives and judge ourselves; “Did I lead a good life? Did I live up to my values? Was I a good human being?”. Those moments we face ourselves in the mirror are steps we can take along the way to ensure we’re active in our pursuit of answering those questions…because why wait til the end?
Being who we want to be is a daily pursuit.
I’ve met many people for whom these words mean different things; You still means you, but in an ego sense rather than a who we truly are one. For a living means what we do for work, a common flipperoo between surviving and thriving. Defined means society based labels, mistakes we’ve made, what other people have told/taught us, diagnosis’s we’ve been given, whether physical or mental. All of which highlights our dissonance from knowing who we truly are.
Where the former perception is centred around knowing self and being true to that self, the latter is largely impacted by the world around us – what others think (or what we think others think).
We define ourselves. We get to choose, every day, who we want to be, what we want to do and how we want to do it. It’s our choices that shape our lives. Yes, we face challenges. Yes, shit is thrown at us by the chimps in the zoo we call the human experience. Yes, we sacrifice and compromise. Yes, we won’t always have the capacity to make the right choice.
Whilst the luxury of choice can evade us, it’s always there.
The moment we forget that is the moment we allow ourselves to be defined by our ego’s fears, insecurities and traumas – the world around us, past and present.
We define ourselves. End of.
Yet we so often do so by what others think, or what we perceive others think, i.e what we were taught to think about ourselves and the world by what was around us growing up. All of which creates inner narratives based on unconscious learned behaviour and perspectives, trauma, its wounds and subsequent fragility it gives our ego; insecurity, self-doubt, self-hate, fear, shame…
So not us.
We can be unaware that this is even happening, let alone that it’s responsible for influencing (maybe even dictating) most aspects of our life.
Even when we do become aware (which we all do), we may see, even join the dots, understanding that we do X because of Y and/or Z…even then, with all that insight, it can still be a challenge to accept and choose differently. Because trauma is strong, survival steps in. Denial, blame/unaccountability…we can forget we are responsible for ourselves, for our inner narrative and the person we show the outside world in how we communicate and operate.
If we’re not careful, we can be showing the world a completely different version of us than we think we are.
Our self-awareness is one thing, our acceptance of that self another, but action based on that self is required before we can make any kind of change in definition, even when we’re aware we want to.
Our action comes in the form of accountability; by accepting the best and worst of us, by accepting that we have the power to make choices, that it is our responsibility alone, that we are the masters of defining who we are and how we live our lives. But choosing other than what’s been driving that life for so many years isn’t child’s play. There is comfort in the survival of what ‘we know (perceive)’, not least about ourselves.
Accepting our imperfections, how they impact us and the world around us, being accountable for that and striving to choose differently is growth, it’s realigning us with our values and who we truly are.
In the end, we realise, that here and now, it’s all on us – to define and be who we want.
And then, showing ourselves to the rest of the world. Fearlessly.
In becoming who we are, we face unpacking all that we’ve been taught by others. We get to choose who that is, we get to keep the best of everything that came before, leave out all the rest and open ourselves up to new.
We don’t forget, we let go of, bit by (at times agonising) bit, that which doesn’t fit with who we are. We take control of our own life – defining ourselves, and trusting in that self, living as that self day in day out, because it feels real, authentic and safe.
Trust in self is paramount, we can lose that when our truth has been questioned, denied, shamed and dragged through the dirt. That trust is what’s stripped from us during the worst we endure in the hands and mouths of others. No matter the extreme, whether a passing judgment or a violation of our minds or bodies.
Rebuilding trust in self requires introspection. Reconnecting to our soul, passing through the shit as we do. How can we accept ourselves if we don’t trust in who we really are? Trauma voices deny us that clarity. Muddying the waters of our conscious self with the harmful shit we’ve picked up throughout our lives.
To gain clarity, to silence the voices that tell us we’re shit, not good enough, unworthy, undeserving, or those that keep us in dark, unaware, we bravely but assuredly venture into the abyss within, reparenting ourselves, healing our wounds, unpacking all the crap that’s been suppressing our true self and holding us back.
We shift our perception and efforts towards an authentic self. Fighting with denial, forgiveness, accountability, acceptance…for those who gave us unhealthy lessons in life, those who didn’t do enough to love and support us, and of course ourselves – for being human, for making mistakes, for not always doing (or being able to do) right by us or those around us, and for defining ourselves by our survival needs rather than our true purpose.
This is where we define ‘me’, realising we already are that person. We’re not inventing a new us, we’re just reconnecting, shedding what was left behind by everything that isn’t us, isn’t what we think, what we value or what we want.
Define yourself – stop letting others do it for you.
The Monsters don’t just mean those around you now or those you’ll meet in future, they mean those in your past; your parents and their relationship which lacked the love and support you needed, friends who turned out to be enemies, people/situations that hurt, traumatised or abused – injecting fear inside you.
Our life experience reveals a lot for us to deal with. Trauma for one can shape us and fuck us up in unimaginable ways if we leave it unattended, warping and defining our perception of the world outside and within. When we avoid healing our traumas, we’re essentially choosing to define us as it, remaining with this ball and chain around our hearts and minds for as long as it takes us to realise this is no way to live, that this isn’t actually who we are after all.
The trouble is, the longer trauma is left unattended, the deeper and more ingrained our self-limiting beliefs become. Thus defining us as someone we are not.
It’s a challenge, a brave quest, but ultimately the greatest choice we’ll ever make for ourselves is to face up to our trauma, saving our true self.
We all have a survival mode of some description, for one reason or another, it’s on us how we navigate it. We can feel justified for our need to survive and for who that makes us, how we think and go about doing so in the world…but unless ‘our way’ is equality-centred in origin, rooted in values and goodwill, considerate of others, of being kind and respectful, we are simply spreading the shit that others gave us and haven’t dealt with, potentially bleeding it out on everything and everyone around us.
Becoming our tormentors, foes, abusers…we essentially reflect them, define ourselves according to their way of doing things. As understandable as this outcome is – our personal experiences do not justify us passing them on – we are accountable for that.
So next time you feel justified, next time you make excuses for what you say and do, for how you treat people, remember – it’s you doing that, it’s you saying those words, it’s you taking that action…