Enlightened Living

Meaning and mindfulness in everyday life

Authenticity and Self-perception

Don't let anyone rent space in your head.

To some degree, we are a reflection of that which is around us. We tend to develop belief systems about ourselves based upon instructions we are given and expectations that we encounter. When we buy into these belief systems, we are allowing someone else to rent space in our head.

One of the Big Questions that we should ask ourselves is "Who am I?" We can get all metaphysical and say we are a karmic manifestation of the Universal Mind, or we can be more concrete and define ourselves by our roles in society or what we do for a living or any number of other legitimate constructs. What is most important in this is establishing a sense of our own perspective, because that perspective is what gives us an authentic sense of ourselves.

When we fall into the trap of looking out, instead of looking in, we become a product of our environment, rather than an independent, self-created being. In responding to our physical and social surroundings -- rather than integrating a concrete sense of our self into those surroundings -- we can easily get lost.

If we live off the perceptions and expectation of others and let those others script our lives we become disconnected from who we really are and connected only to whom we believe we should be based on the script from which we are reading. So, then, if we take this model and apply it to our own lives, we can ask ourselves the question, "Whose life am I living?"

When I was 18 years old, I was sitting at a stop light with my Dad. He turned to me and he said, "So, what's it going to be...college or conservatory?" I knew what the right answer was...and I also knew what the correct answer was. I gave him the correct answer - "College". And for the next 10 years I struggled and juggled my music with my studies. The consequences of this struggle have ranged from nominal to disastrous - but there were consequences...consistently.

I was living his life -- or the life he had scripted for me - rather than the one I wanted to live because that life would have been unacceptable or made me unacceptable to him. What that choice got me was a lot of aggravation, conflict, and frustration, despite my academic successes. And, when my father died, in a grand gesture of unconscious defiance and passive aggression, I used a fair portion of the money I had inherited - money better spent on schooling, books and rent - on a piano! We are nothing, if not consistent.

So, take a look at your own life and see how much of it you have scripted and how much of it you have allowed to be scripted for you. Mind you, letting go of the scripts of others is not a license to be or become selfish, but it is an opportunity to become more self-aware, and authentic in the process.

© 2008 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

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Michael J. Formica, M.S., M.A., Ed.M., is a psychotherapist, teacher and writer. He is an Initiate in the Shankya Yoga lineage of H.H. Sri Swami Rama and the Himalayan Masters.

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