Does the image drive the expectation or expectation drive the image? In the long run, associating with the self image can cause psychological damage
We are dominated by everything with which our self becomes identified. We can dominate and control everything from which we disidentify ourselves — Roberto Assagioli
Very often we identify ourselves with certain ideas, notions, images, objects, roles and responsibilities. And, soon after become enslaved by them. For instance, the notion of being the perfect mother drives me to do various things. And even when I can see things are not working out, I refuse to change my ways or alter my approach. Why? Because I am married to certain ideas of what a good mother ought to be. And this is when the idea starts dominating me and the intent of the mother is lost.
As a transformational coach, I see this identification play out on a daily basis. A classic example is one where we marry our jobs and believe we are the standard bearer of the job. The association with the job and what responsibilities come with the job are so strong that we cannot identify ourselves outside the job. The job becomes I, I become the job, and that is when the job starts controlling me. The job has the first consideration of my thoughts and priorities. “Married to the job” ring a bell?
As a psychologist, when I first discovered this phenomenon I was living in, I could not believe what I had let happen to myself. When did I grow into an embodiment of consensual enslavement without my knowledge? It was as if someone had made me sign off my will, with my consent, but without my knowledge!!
I have since made an active effort to distinguish myself from my job, from my image in the mirror, from being the transformational coach, from my ideas of being a perfect parent, a good wife and a top performing employee. This is not to say I became detached from my job and responsibilities or stopped investing in my skills or growth or I stopped caring about how I look, but, I made a conscious effort to remind myself that I could be a good or not so good coach, job could be going good or bad, high or low, busy or light but in any case it is not a reflection of me as a person. I could lose my job tomorrow and it doesn’t make me a bad person. And even as I formulated this thought in my head, it brought me a paramount sense of freedom from the expectation of always doing great at job. Again, I don’t mean to be an ordinary coach, but circumstances and situations are a part of life that we need to accommodate, swing along with and that should not define my sense of self-worth or existence.
With this new found wisdom, I was eager and curious to see if I could apply the same principles on parenting too. I decided to view myself as a ‘well meaning parent’ rather than a ‘good parent’ or ‘successful parent’. When my intentions took the center stage, I liberated myself from the idea and identity of doing things a certain way or the way that is known. I gave in, I listened better, I made an effort to understand my child better and guess what happened as a result? I converted to my child’s camp of thinking, feeling and sensing. I rediscovered the joy of being a mommy at a whole new level because I connected with my son like never before. Emotional bonding took a new colour and new meaning for me. I cannot comment (and for the most part I do not want to evaluate) if I think I am a ‘good parent’, but what I am, is a happy mother.
Disidentification requires deliberate attention to self and action. Attention to how we chose our thoughts and chasing the trail of actions and their impact long after the moment is gone. Living a simple life requires not intelligence but intuition and accessing our inner wisdom.
Stories of inner wisdom always move me. There is something very ethereal about them. Share with me your stories at email@example.com