So many of us take one isolated event — a mistake, a painful situation — or the critical comments of our inner critic and let it color who we are. Completely. It’s as though we become this one thing. This one negative thing.
Maybe your inner critic regularly spews remarks about your weight and how you look disgusting and horrible in everything. So you become the person who looks disgusting and horrible all the time.*
Maybe you made a big mistake or a bad decision, which you regret. So you become the person defined by that decision, that one mistake.
Maybe you’ve been struggling with a lot of sadness lately, so you think that’s all you are. A really sad person.
But remember that you’re made up of many, many, many things. Yesterday, in this post, I shared a few tips from the book FLAWD: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others, and the Things that Make You Who You Are, written by Emily-Anne Rigal and Jeanne Demers.
In it, there’s also a great excerpt, which reminds us that we are complex, mysterious, ever-evolving human beings:
You have stories, but you are not your stories.
You have a body, but you are not your body.
You have a name, but you are not your name.
You have labels, but you are not your labels.
You have experiences, but you are not your experiences.
You have an age, but you are not your age.
You have a social status, but you are not your social status.
You have a personality, but you are not your personality.
I know … this seems so negative.
You’re probably thinking, “I must be something.”
And I’m here to tell you, “Yes, you are, you are a lot…”
a lot lot lot.
In fact, you can make a list of everything you are. Of all the many, many, many things you are. Write that you love to read, write, joke around and play the piano. Write that you’re shy, especially when there’s a big crowd. Write that you’re scared of the dark and you prefer watching comedies.
Write that your dreams include painting a field of flowers in Italy and finally learning to use your fancy camera. Write that you’ve yet to meet a brownie you haven’t savored and didn’t have you licking your fingers clean. Write that you get excited over musicals, and you belt out Broadway tunes in the shower. Regularly.
Write about your favorite store and your favorite way to spend a Saturday. Write about how you’re an introvert, or extrovert or a combo of the two. Write that you’re super talkative, and you can’t help but ask everyone questions all the time. Write about how you love sipping hot chocolate even in the summertime.
The longer your list, the better. Maybe you even include 200 things. Return to your list regularly. Keep adding to it. Or scratch a few things out, which no longer are true for you.
Just remember that you are not one thing. Not even one big thing. You are lots and lots and lots of things. And there’s a lot of beauty in that.
* Here are some creative and playful ways to cope with your inner critic when the words become too much.