Thriving from true identity

Aug 2018 - Mariaan van Zyl

We were meant to live from a place of internal understanding, not external defining!

In short we can see this allows us to:

1. live from an understanding of who we are made to be,

2. to understand why each one is here and

3. how to subdue your part in life.

From here we are supposed to live out to the world around us; in relationships, community and work. It flows from the inside out and not outside in. Thus our relationships, community or work does not define who we are. But who we know we are define how we will impact our relations, community and work! ​​

Where did it go wrong?

Mostly because we got hurt or challenged around the forming of our understanding of who we are (our image), cause us to seek affirmation and definition in our relationships (love), community (status/belonging) and work (value/ability). This is the root of our issues/problems, because these external things were never meant to give our internal image its definition. Our internal understanding of who we are, is suppose to give definition to the external things in our life…

To understand our identity we can look at it in 2 parts:

1. We need to rediscover and confirm (learn) who we were made to be

2. We need to heal where it went wrong (unlearn) that caused us to seek affirmation and definition in external things This will flow to the purpose we have and where we can add value in life.

Subduing the earth and ownership…

Victor Frankl said that man’s search is meaning, and his purpose is fulfilling it: “everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it. Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

What does it mean to be responsible for your life?

Dr Henry Cloud says knowing what I am responsible for or not, comes from knowing what I control or not, and that in turns comes from knowing who has ownership of something or not. For example like a yard: if I own it, I know who controls what happens inside and with the yard, and I know who is responsible for what happens in and with that yard! I.e. I know how to subdue life! Inside this metaphoric yard is my feelings, my thinking, my beliefs, my behaviour, my dreams etc. All these are mine to own and no-one else owns or is responsible for these… This means I cannot blame situations or people for how I feel or think or behaved, but it starts with empathically owning it myself, understanding something in the situation or other’s reactions created a response in me that I need to understand so I can own it and choose to align my response with who I know I am…. (not responding from who they are…)

Unpacking Part 1: rediscover and confirm (learn) who we were made to be (accept and appreciate the truth of who we are ) We need to discover, accept and appreciate the truth of who we are (learning the true affirmations from loved ones, from community and from understanding and discovering who we are made to be. For example: like an engineer making a machine to fulfil a purpose. Once he sees the machine is functioning how and why it is made, it is fulfilling and satisfying. Thus, if we who are made in a specific way for a specific reason understand ourselves and own it and live from that state, it would fulfil our purpose. Thus, from our affirmation and definition we act / work / relate. We don’t act / work / relate in order to get affirmation and definition! We need to know who we are and then live it out at work, relationships and community; and not find our identity / security in these aspects. This needs constant awareness because the wounds in our past that distorted our image, blinds our awareness of seeing where we seek affirmation and definition in work and relations.

Part 2: Healing the distorted image and redeeming the true image (unlearn) We restore our image by healing the wound that distorted it and establishing the true image that we are made to be.

How does the wound come about and how do we heal?

We grew up in a broken world. Our young mind and brain roughly before 10 years old does not have a fully developed frame of reference (the place from where we make sense of ourselves, the world and others). This means in this time we absorb most things as the truth, and sadly also the hurtful things people say and ways people act, as the truth about who we are and how the world works. We do not have the ability then to debate what the action means, we just conclude that whatever they do or say is correct about or towards us. This is how trauma takes place and affects every single one of us, no matter how good our parents or circumstances were. Because of the broken state of even the most mature parents or even good circumstance, we all end up having more or less of a distorted image due to the wounds picked up in this time. From there our belief structures of who we are gets formed and is like the foundation of our image. Off course not all is bad, but unfortunately the bad has the devastating effect on us of distorting the truth of who we are. Example (there is so many different examples): If dad (or any other caregiver) was too busy to give time of day for some activity, affirmation or conversation, the mind structures it as ‘I am not important enough to take note of’, or ‘I am not good enough for his attention and need to try or work harder for his affirmation,’ or ‘I am not as important as the people at work or as precious as my sick sister that get more attention.’ The belief about self is formed as not good enough, important enough, special enough etc. Yet this is a lie! Otherwise known as irrational beliefs.

Why is this a lie or irrational?

Because a person cannot define another person… A person’s behaviour (what they do and say) does not define who I am, it only defines who he/she is… We all behave from our own frame of reference, not someone else’s, so when this dad in the example behave in neglecting (not being there) ways, it defines his frame of reference (how he sees himself, the world and others) and does not define the child in the example! The problem is the child’s mind does not yet have the ability to understand this, and thus takes it as a definition of himself and not just a definition of dad or lack in dad’s behaviour. This is where the wound distort the child’s mind’s image of who he is! It is like a crack in the windshield of a car. Every time a stone hit the windshield, the crack becomes bigger…

How do we battle with the lie and bring our image into the truth?

It's important for us to come to grips with the fact that our life won't change until our thinking does. Each one of us need to: 1. own our story and know our wound to know the distorted lie of who we are, 2. in order for us to remind ourselves daily that this is not the truth (i.e. unlearn that habit / way of thinking and relating from that) and 3. then daily affirm the truth of who we are (learning the true affirmations from loved ones, from community and from understanding and discovering who we are made to be. This is a continued discipline as well as a battlefield in the mind. Because the clearer we can see ourselves, the clearer we can see and hear others and situations. The opposite is also true: the more distorted we see and know ourselves, the more distorted we will see and hear others and situations!

Conclusion: Live from the inside out!

Steps to remember:

1. OWN: Our life won't change until our thinking does a. Empathically own our story – the good and the bad – know it and let go of it

2. LEARN: Manage (the daily battlefield) your story from learning the true image of yourself: a. Affirmations and revelation from loved ones and, b. Affirmations and revelation from your own discovering, accepting and appreciating of yourself

3. UNLEARN: Manage your story from unlearning the lie (irrational beliefs) of your image of yourself and talk to yourself about the affirmations that fills this wound

4. LIVE IT: Walk in it a. Living (acting and relating) from the place of knowing who you are and why you are here (owning) b. Doing (acting, working) from knowing why you are here (purpose)

Life of thriving, not just surviving…