The other day I attended an event. It was an event similar to others I attended in the past. In those past occasions I tended to have an alright time. I spoke with a couple of people here and there, but for the most part I felt different from the group; as though I didn’t quite belong.
This event was different though. I seemed to engage in conversation with a wide-variety of people; some familiar, others I had met for the first time.
The event itself was a pared down version from previous years, yet I was pleased to discover that I had a much more enjoyable time. Why was this year’s experience so much better?
In short, the difference was in how I related to the event.
We are what we believe.
In previous years, I felt unsure of myself. While always welcoming, it felt in the past as though people weren’t all that interested in any depth of conversation. They smiled, but didn’t really want to get to know me all that well.
I would regularly leave such events feeling like an outcast. As though I existed on the fringe of the group, rather than as a full-fledged member. This year, however, I had made the conscious decision that I belonged. And everything changed as a result. It’s as though a whole new world opened up to me!
Creating a new reality.
What created this mammoth shift?
The identity-relating connection.
By exploring my experiences, perceptions, and beliefs, I was able to see how the way I identified with my self (as someone not good enough to belong and that others were better than I was) led to counter-productive behaviors.
I realized that these things directly influenced the way in which I related to this group. I behaved in ways consistent with someone who felt inferior; low self-esteem, limited eye contact, tentative hand shake, slumped body language, weak voice, and so on. All without even realizing it! But others did. At least at an unconscious level.
And so I went about making some small tweaks in my self-perception (I am just as good as anyone else in the group, I do belong, and I have every right to attend this event).
I made the conscious decision to believe these things and discard my previous perceptions as no longer applicable or relevant to who I am today. And I had an entirely different (and much better) experience as a result.
We mirror our world, and our world mirrors us.
The interesting thing about how we relate to our world, is that our outer world tends to be a mirror to what we think about ourselves on the inside. The feeling of inadequacies, or judgment made upon others often point to inadequacies or judgments we have of ourselves.
When we are in the midst of change, we become especially susceptible to our inner fears and sensitivities, because by nature, change creates uncertainty in our outer world as well as in our inner world since we are in the midst of learning something new.
Newness often results in trial and error as we navigate the waters of this new environment. And when we are uncertain about ourselves, we have a greater tendency to reflect uncertainty in our outer world.
And so just as our outer world reflects insecurities we might have about ourselves, so does the way we identify with ourselves show up in the way we relate to others.
When we construct walls to minimize relating.
Sometimes we choose to limit the way in which we relate by creating hidden walls or barriers. This is often done as a means of self-protection. We don’t want to get hurt by feeling as though we don’t belong, so we put up invisible “don’t mess with me” or “I don’t care” walls to prevent this from happening.
This sort of defense mechanism can also be a mirror, reflecting inner fears and insecurities. The big questions here are:
This then opens the door to revising these areas to more closely align with our intended change.
Stay tuned for a closer look on how to do this.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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