Photo credit Fe Langdon, available on Flickr under Creative Commons.
How we say
One of the major obstacles in your development is to perceive yourself as a static thing. Similarly, one of the most limiting ways for a solution-focus is to look at a situation or problem as an event frozen in time. So you say:
“I am ill.”
“You are a poor manager.”
“He is stupid.”
“This is the way things are.”
These are facts and nothing can be done about it. It seems. While the statements above may look innocent, they are not. In fact, they act dangerously beneath the observable surface.
Are you one of the people who often heard as a child “You are a bad girl/boy” or “You are stupid”?
Did you believe that? I did.
It only takes a single authority (parent/grandma/older friend/teacher) to repeat such a statement a few times to make you accept it as a truth. Without questioning. Would it make any difference for you to have heard instead “You have behaved stupidly this time. What can we/you do next time so that you can improve?”
It would. For me.
The language construction “I am X” describes an equivalence between “I” and the very thing “X”. In such a statement an identification is taking place. If you keep repeating to yourself “I am stupid” you begin to identify with what you consider as “stupid behaviors” or “stupid people”. At some point you will start to model such a behavior more often, even unconsciously, simply because you have associated yourself with stupidity.
So, if you say “I am X” or “You are Y”, such statements act as naming on a deep, subconscious level. We make an equivalence and once we have taken it for granted, such an equivalence begin to hold forever. You stick the labels and they stay.
How to set yourself free
The first step is a shift in perception. Instead of looking at yourself as an Event, the key is to look at yourself as a Process.
You are not your thoughts.
You are NOT your emotions.
You are not your behaviors.
You are NOT your skills.
You are not your actions.
You are NOT your achievements.
You are not your mood.
You are NOT your products.
You are not your failures.
You are NOT your problems.
You are not your parents.
You are NOT your wife/husband/kids.
You are not your car.
You are NOT your house.
You are not your job.
You are NOT your hobby.
While all the elements above may be very important to you and whom you have become, none of them is you. They are parts of who you are but you are much greater than their sum. If you choose to identify with any of them you may become vulnerable, fixated and stuck. And you may slow down any progress to a high degree.
For instance I used to identify with my work so I was hurt by people criticizing my research approach. I saw work as an extension of myself. As a result, it used to take me a substantial amount of time for an emotional processing before I could deal with criticism and work towards a further improvement of the ideas and applications. It was a waste of my emotional resources to suffer unnecessarily.
I am sure you know other people who are hurt or emotionally upset when somebody criticizes their approach or behavior, or when something happens with their car, or even when their children do not perform well to the expectations. It all comes from our deep identification with the Events. Be it results, attitude or children’s behavior.
Who you are
Your particular thoughts, emotions, behaviors, skills, actions, initiatives, possessions, responsibilities, failures and achievements are Events.
So, who are you?
You are simply a Process allowing, choosing, supporting and maintaining these Events. You are a Journey. Through Life.
You are not a static, frozen in time Joe. You are a Process of Joe.
You are a continuously learning and developing conscious being.
You have become and you are becoming.
Your goal is to take care of the Process to maintain it daily so that the habits you choose serve you through Time.
Watch your language
The second important point for becoming is to watch your language. The idea is to focus on describing the situation or event instead of making identity statements. Say to your child “You have not behaved kindly this time” instead of “You are a bad boy”. Say, “I’ve been searching for a new job” instead of “I am jobless”. Say, “I have not become wealthy yet, but I am taking my steps towards it” instead of “I am poor”. Say, “You have not organized your workplace in the best way last week” instead of “You are a muddler”. And so on.
Language is very important in describing and naming how you see yourself. For a change to happen, you need to act differently and speak differently. Watch what you say and how you say it. When you change how you describe yourself, your life, your problems and your challenges, you will begin to act accordingly. You will redirect your Process towards a better You.
Being a Process
Why does it make a difference to perceive yourself as a Process?
The key concept is that by being a Process you are already in motion. You are changing and evolving by the very nature of a process. Whatever happens, any failure, misjudgement or difficulty, any blessing, winning or achievement, change is just behind the door. You deeply know it and you accept it. You also know that change is the only stability you have. It makes you conscious to live in the moment and appreciate all the blessings that come to your life now. And it makes you aware that any difficulty, even the most horrendous, will eventually pass. Through the Process you can transform it.
By seeing yourself as a Process you begin to detach emotionally from the outcomes and the results while you are taking initiatives in the given moment. Action redirects the Process. And you know that even small steps repeated frequently enough can lead you far. In your Journey.
When you see yourself as a Process you begin to gain power, responsibility and control over your life. While you cannot control the majority of events, you can take care that the Process you are will equip you well to handle whatever comes. You begin to live by Gratitude and Love. To others and God.
You are becoming
You may not have made the best progress in your life yet but you can choose to start doing it now. In every moment you can abandon old patterns and choose the ones which serve you. By being a Process – a developing human being – you can grow into a greatness.
Stir it up.
You are experiencing. You are becoming. Your best conscious Self.