We all have different roles that we take on each day: maybe you’re a student, a husband, a mother, an employee, a compassionate friend. Within these roles there are different requirements on how we are to act and react. If you are in a role long enough, then people may feel that they get a better understanding about you. People may begin to know you and define you within the context of the current role(s) that you fulfill.
Is this an accurate way of getting to understand someone? No! We are all individuals and more than the sum of our parts. It is granted that if we have people that know us long enough and see us in operation in differing roles, then those people will have a better understanding of who we are. Yet they still will fail to know us as intimately as we know ourselves. We may feign to be happy, yet within ourselves we are sad. Someone may say “I know what you are thinking”, but this is just an assumption. Unless that individual possesses telepathic ability, there is no real way that someone knows exactly what you are thinking.
The point I want to make is that there is no real way that anyone can define who you are with 100% accuracy. The only person who knows you is yourself. Sometimes, some people do not even know who they are because they are too busy conforming to the dictates of those around them. If you feel that you really do not know who you are, then it is time to stop being defined by others and start defining yourself.
How can does one start on the journey of self-discovery/self-definition? Here are some steps that will lead you on the beginnings of the wonderful journey of introspection:
- Find out what it is that you like/dislike.
- Are you a conformist? Do you agree with those around you just because you want to fit in? Do you feel that your opinions and ideas are not as important as other people’s? Why do you feel the need to conform?
- Do you consider yourself to be more than just what people see you as? That is, are you more than the role(s) that you fulfill? If the answer is: “No”, then I suggest that you get a pad and paper and, for the next month, keep a daily record of your thoughts and feelings. You may be surprised to see that you are more than just what people define you as. You will see that you are a complex, interesting human being who is unique.
- How often do you take time to stop and look within yourself. Are you in touch or aware of your intuition? Learn how to recognise that “inner you”.
- Are you conscious of your feelings and emotions? Do you acknowledge these or do you ignore them?
These are just a few ways that you can begin to discover yourself. Too often we are all busy looking outside ourselves, busy with life, busy with the demands that people and life thrust upon us. We think that these external circumstances define who we truly are. Once you begin the journey of introspection, when you start to look within yourself and explore who you truly are. Then you will find that you are not who people think you are. You are a unique, complex, interesting individual who is beyond being stuck with a label and definition.
The other day someone looked at me in a way that made me feel good. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. However, it got me to thinking about how people can become reliant on situations like that in order for them to feel good about themselves.
Every now and then we do need praise and recognition. It’s just a part of human nature to have our efforts and abilities acknowledged by peers and those in positions of authority. How do you feel when someone tells you what a great job you did at putting together that sales report? How do you feel when you have just scored that elusive goal? How do you feel when someone compliments you on how you look? You feel good right? You even find that your confidence has been given a boost!
The problem lies in an individual’s need to be seeking constant praise in order to feel good and secure about themselves. These people suffer from low self-esteem, lack of confidence and a poor self-image. The view that they have of themselves is always reliant on the praise and reassurance they receive from those around them. If they do not get this, then they may think that they are lacking something and then a flood of negative thoughts enter. These people are insecure within themselves.
At the other end of the scale are those people who are narcissistic. The world revolves around them (so they think!). They believe that they are better than anyone else. They also need constant praise to feed their false self-view of how fantastic they are. Watch out if you tell these people that they are no better than anyone else! You will be on the receiving end of a tirade of abuse about how useless YOU are! (This just proves that, in order to be above everyone else, the narcissistic personality has to pull everyone else down to a level below them!). These people are also insecure because they have built up a false world-view where they are the centre of everything and everything is about them! They need everyone to validate their importance.
What has all this got to do with “ego massage”? Simply this: People at both ends of the self-esteem spectrum need to seek constant strokes of their ego in order to define themselves. They rely on externals to define them. This only leads to a false “self-identity” because these individual’s are defined by those around them. They have no internal idea as to who they truly are.
If you are someone who is always seeking praise, then it is time to stop. Praise yourself for being a unique individual. Make a list of the good qualities you possess (as recognised solely by you and not by what other’s say). If someone criticises you, then ask yourself if the criticism is valid or not. If it isn’t then just chuck it aside and move on. If it is, then take the criticism on board and see it as a chance to grow. Also, do things that make you feel good. As you start to make small adjustments in your self belief, then you will be amazed at how much confidence you will gain and also your self-esteem will grow!
There is nothing wrong with an “ego massage” every now and then. It makes you feel good. It is only when people need these all the time in order to feel good about themselves. Then there is a problem.
It is time to stop on relying others to define you. Define yourself by the process of honest self-examination.