“Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”. ~ Brene Brown.
Are we the sum of past deeds? Are our lives defined by what we did yesterday or are our lives simply an expression of a journey to discovering ourselves?
Life is a series of choices. Some of the choices we make lead us to discovering parts of ourselves that we never knew existed. This discovery of self is made possible only by the virtue of the courage we need to look beyond the story of what we’ve created and into the true essence of ourselves. What is it that drives our choices and our behaviours?
I personally have stood before myself in despair and confusion of the choices I’ve made and what was created from those choices to discover a depth to myself that I may otherwise never have known existed. It’s that place of total vulnerability and in total surrender to the judgment of myself and judgment from others that has allowed me to see more of the human heart than I ever saw before.
Simply put, I wouldn’t be who I am today without having made the choices that propelled me into a journey to the darkest and most feared places within myself. Sure, I could have done it differently, but theorising and experiencing are very different. What I actually discovered was ME, and the challenge ever since then has been to continue to be ME in a world where, let’s face it, you’re really not ‘allowed’ to be you.
This world, this reality is not what it was meant to be. We spend lifetimes running from ourselves. We manipulate our environment and the people in it to provide support for ourselves so that we don’t need to look within, frightened of what we’ll find if we do. And when we can no longer manipulate our environment to support the veil of illusion that we’ve used to define our lives, we hit a crisis point.
The tragedy itself is not the crisis point. No. The crisis point is the call for change. The real tragedy is in the judgment that created it in the first place and the judgment that follows.
According to historian Michael Foucault, our internal understandings of life and identity can be traced back to the mid 17th Century in Western Culture when we began “normalizing judgment” as a mechanism of social control that incites people to measure their own and each other’s actions and thoughts against norms about life and development. We started making ourselves and each other wrong and as a result we function from shame, blame and guilt. It’s a recipe for disaster.
We seek connection. Yet, we do so from a lack of connection to ourselves. Vulnerability is the path to oneness, and yet it’s the one thing that eludes us because instead we use judgment, defence and justification to create separation, from ourselves and from others.
I am not the sum of my past deeds. You can’t determine my tomorrow based on choices that I made yesterday because in those choices, I had the courage to choose a journey within, to choose something different. I don’t hide who I am or what I’ve chosen in the past. I have no interest in placing blame or feeling shame and occasionally I hear the whispers in the wind saying “can she be trusted?”. In response, I offer the possibility that when someone is willing to discover who they are and where they function from, they inherently have a willingness to have a level of self awareness that takes courage and that creates change.
You can’t ‘undo’ awareness. When you know who you are, you just know.