22 October 2012

changing our perception of ourselves

I have found that the universe is often one step ahead. Sometimes the messages come from likely sources, such as the phone call I received from a dear friend last night, a friend I haven't spoken to in years but talking to her was just what I didn't know I needed. Other times the messages are more subtle, hidden. You have to really be looking to find them, such as the article "Mistaken Identity" by Kate Holcombe, published in the November 2012 issue of Yoga Journal:

Asmita [or false-identification] happens when you identify with the parts of yourself that change -- everything from your mind to your body, appearance, or job title -- instead of with the quiet place within you that does not change. It's when you mistakenly believe, on some level, that how you look or feel or what you do for a living (or even how nice or beat-up of a car you drive) has something to do with who you are and that these things define you, instead of recognizing that your true Self -- who you are at your core -- is unchanging. 

In other words, if we allow ourselves to be defined by those elements of ourselves that are subject to potential change then we are setting ourselves up for eventual dissatisfaction or disappointment. There are no true fixed points in life and we certainly cannot battle the transformations that come from external forces. Our age, height, gender, hair color, job, friendships, relationship status ... these are identifications, yes, but they are not definitions.


Not all change is negative, but positive changes should be treated the same. A promotion at work, say, or losing 100 pounds are circumstances that should be celebrated, but we should not fall victim to believing they somehow define us or make us better or more successful than our previous self.

Self-acceptance, therefore, comes not in loving and accepting what is on the outside but connecting and bonding with what is on the inside. Yoga philosophy, according to Kate Holcombe, calls it the seer, "...that which experiences or 'sees' the world through the lens of the mind... the seer is what you might think of as your inner voice or guide... it's your true essence, and yoga teaches that this essence remains stable no matter what happens around you or to you." 

If we focus our energy on identifying with this unchanging part of ourselves, we are far less likely to be affected by change when it inevitably comes.

I don't know about all of you, but I needed to be reminded of this. Needed to be reminded that these elements in and of my life do not make me who I am. My tattoos do not define me. My red hair does not define me. My profession, hobby, and birthplace do not define me. Nor does my previous weight, my current weight, or the fact that I have now lost 113 pounds.

After such a large weight loss and change in lifestyle, one would perhaps think things came easier but the old insecurities still have a habit of bubbling up every once in awhile. That, of course, is because I have allowed my perception of myself to be set by external forces instead of identifying with my inner self. With three weeks until my 31st birthday (*wink wink*) this sounds like a good time to realign my focus.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

2 comments:

  1. Favorite line, "Self-acceptance, therefore, comes not in loving and accepting what is on the outside but connecting and bonding with what is on the inside." SO SO SO hard to do. You'd think it would be easier. We teach ourselves and those in our lives to love one another. If we preach that, why can't we love and accept ourselves, as we are, where we are in life, right now. I may have loved my body more when I was back in high school, but I did NOT love who I was as a person. Aligning those two together, has been a growing pain, that I wish were easier.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed: it's easy to point out to other people the beauty they hold inside, but nearly impossible to turn that attitude back ourselves.

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