Friday, June 11, 2010
What we think of ourselves.
It seems like life is scored or judged by others’ perception of us. We no longer evaluate ourselves by a look in the mirror, but someone else’s view. The judge gets the anonymity and latitude to voice any opinion, while we are left to pick through the pieces and select what has purpose and meaning. Many of the pieces don’t have purpose and need to be discarded. I think we start down the wrong path by giving value to an opinion that comes from someone that is not qualified to offer it on that specific situation. I believe in getting input from others on important decisions, but their perspective, goals, and values should be similar to our own or we should not be surprised when their opinion doesn’t feel right to us. What it really boils down to is, taking responsibility and ownership of our own portrait. A self-portrait, the only one that carries weight in this scenario, is, by definition, done by ourselves. It is not to trust or hire someone to do a better job. It simply can’t be done. When we set out to paint the portrait, the palette must be selected by the artist. I might choose “Honesty” as the most important “color”, while someone else may choose “Kindness”. Neither is wrong, but each chooses for themselves. When we begin to paint, we must recognize that this self-portrait starts when we are children and we will continue to evaluate and improve or degrade this portrait by the standards we value and the choices we make throughout our lives. It is truly a work in progress. After we are gone, this portrait is what we leave behind for others to interpret and discuss. Something this important has to be done for ourselves, by ourselves. As with any artist, many influences and methods lend texture, but the image is our own. The reason that I use this metaphor, and believe me, I am no artist, is that I want to explain the importance of enjoying the delight of building a beautiful life and to be the person that, through personal revelation, you know you can be. Others will offer opinions and thoughts about important milestones as you travel through your life. Some will even care. But the consequences of these decisions and the responsibility for your actions will always be yours to bear. You can point the finger for choices gone awry, but you will still clean up your own messes. The more you understand this very simple rule, the better decisions you will make for you and your family. Especially as you travel through your teenage years and into adulthood, pressures will be great to make decisions based on what others want you to do. They will likely not have any more information than you do, but want company in decisions that they make for themselves. This is a trap. All the time. Not that you won’t make the decision with them. It may very well be a very good choice. But, the decision that you make must always come from you, by your own reflection, by your own personal revelation. It then becomes an addition to your self-portrait, not detraction. The choice may not end up being the best one, but make the best one you can at the time, with the information that you have at the time, and with the intent to build yourself up, not break yourself down. As you make right decisions, even if they are not always correct, people will gravitate towards you for the right reasons. Those that would “judge” you will seek your counsel. It is not always about the “correct” decision, but it is always about the “right” decision. What others think will get you what they want, or maybe what you want, at that moment, but may not even consider what you want out of your life. Don’t sacrifice what you want most, for what you want now. The feeling that you get in your heart for a truly unconditional and altruistic gesture is not available through any drug, machine, or possession. It is a small taste of God’s love for us. It is a reward for choosing “correct” and “right”. Those feelings should guide your actions. We are given all of the clues for a happy, righteous life. They are always rewarded by the unquestionable feeling that we have done right for the right reason. This comes from our Heavenly Father and no person can give you this gift. By doing what others think you should do, against your own feelings, will not give you what you need to beautify your portrait. It will lead to damage to repair, apologies to offer, and amends to make. As you get closer to the end of your time here, you will start to see that what you thought of yourself always made you stand a little taller and more proud. What others thought of you, if unjustified, is irrelevant and usually difficult to even recall. Don’t be afraid to look in the mirror to evaluate yourself. Be the person that you want to see in that reflection. Always continue to fairly evaluate where you are and where you want to be. Always know that something as beautiful as what you are meant to be, takes time. Be fair to yourself and allow yourself that time. Don’t hold your expectations so high that you are unhappy with your progress and continually try to start over. Use all of your experiences as a wide variety of brushes and colors to improve your portrait. Work towards your self-portrait, designed by what you know you were meant to be. God made you out of an infinite love for you. Never question if you are ever enough. You always are. If someone tells you that you aren’t, hand them a mirror. Obviously, they can’t paint your self-portrait, so they better get busy on their own.