Raise your hand if you typically introduce yourself as what you do or your role in your family? Hi! I’m so-and-so, and I do such-and-such. I work in a corporate office. I teach 1st grade. I’m a stay-at-home mom. (And I have to say that I am so grateful that I got to stay at home with my child until she started preschool. There is no amount of money that could have been more rewarding and fulfilling. I’ll also say that if you are/have been a working mom and like it, I have no stones to throw.) But, are you really what you do? Your job or career is an important part of you and certainly adds value and meaning to your life. It is not who you are.
For some reason, we (I) feel that what we have and what we do make us more important (or if you’re embarrassed to tell what you do, less important). If we have the beautiful house, fancy car, nice clothes, the attractive spouse, the perfectly-behaved-and-performing children, the elite job, that somehow that makes us more valuable in the world. When we think this way, we are really thinking backwards. It goes something like this: If I have the aforementioned things/people/job, then I can do ___________ (what my family needs, what my boss wants, etc.) and then I will be __________ (important, valued, generous, caring, kind, happy, determined, etc.).
I struggled with this for years. I knew what kind of person I wanted to be, but kept getting caught in the cycle of have-do-be, essentially hiding who I really was. I have found the opposite works more efficiently and effectively. What positive characteristics do you know are hiding beneath the surface because you keep thinking you must live up to an expectation? Has someone told you that you “always” are a certain way? Do you believe their predictions, telling yourself that you cannot change unless you have money/education/career, cannot do what they said you couldn’t, and then be what they said you would never be? It’s time to name those characteristics that you know are at your core, and be those characteristics. Then you can do the things that need to be done, in order to have the things you need (and maybe some things you want).
This is how I phrase it: “Hi. My name is Vicky. I am the possibility of fun, freedom, and generosity. I work as a counselor.” When I am being those characteristics, it creates an opening for others to feel fun, free, and generous, allowing me to do what needs to be done, and have the things I want out of life (satisfaction of great career, etc.). I’m not claiming to be perfect at this just yet, (See a previous post about perfection.) but when I seriously make the effort, good things happen. It’s a process to make progress, not perfection.