Who do you think you are?

If you've come under the wrong impression, there will be no freedom for you until you solve your case of mistaken identity. We are not who most people think we are. Thinking is based on left brain cognitive strategies I explored in the series Use your brain. We feel judged by people who think about us in either/or terms. We put up a false front to protect ourselves from the danger they present to our self confidence, self image and self motivation. We pretend to be whatever will appease them, get them to back off or change their thinking about us. I've written about this previously in an exceptionally popular post titled: Initial self concepts.

I wonder if you've gotten the wrong idea about who you are and sacrificed your personal freedom in the process.
  • Are you thinking you are finished goods already shipped from the factory? Has it already been decided how you turned out after all? Are you stuck being this thing that you've been labeled, stereotyped or branded as?
  • Has your picture already been taken for us to get bored with? Are we seeing a snapshot of all there is see about you? Are all the puzzle pieces already in place? Is it completely obvious what you've got to give and what good you are?
  • Are you your resume, portfolio and scrapbook? Does the stuff you've done thus far define you? Has it already been decided what you can amount to by what's already happened to you? Is your past a clear indication of what to expect from your future?
  • Are you trying to be a reliable machine? Are your proud of your consistency, predictability and conformity? Are you staying out of trouble, maintaining a low profile and avoiding others' scrutiny? Are you doing your best to keep a lid on your moods, urges and unpredictable emotions?
We answer "yes" to any of these questions when we've come under the wrong impression about our identity. Our initial self concept is flawed and misleading. This usually happens when we've been extremely impressed by someone's abusive or ambitious temperament. We feel threatened by how mean they've been to us or how arrogantly they've flaunted their accomplishments in our faces. We see ourselves as deficient, vulnerable or defective. We feel judged, put down or invalidated. We think we cannot change what we do not have to begin with. We adopt an attitude of defeat, resignation and cynicism. It sucks to be us and there's nothing we can do about, as far as we can tell.

These appearances are very misleading. False impressions don't mean what they indicate when we take them literally. They mean we can change identities. The truth about ourselves can set us free. Freedom and meaning are a package deal. They come bundled together for our own good. When we got the wrong impression, that means it's time for a change in who we think we are. If we've been extremely impressed by others abusive or ambitious personalities, that means we can change what we believe about ourselves and make into our own deal. When we're being given a mistaken identity, we can set the record straight:
  • When someone thinks we're already finished goods, we know that's a lie. The truth is that we are a work in progress with many more upgrades on the way.
  • When people judge us by our appearances, we can see they are getting seriously mislead. We know we don't have all the puzzle pieces yet, much less how they all fit together.
  • When others assume we have been defined by our past history, that's an incorrect premise. We can accurately assume the future is a unfolding mystery full of unforeseen surprises.
  • When people reward us for acting like a machine, we can let them delude themselves. We're fascinated with being more like weather and the changing seasons.

When we change who we think we are like this, we've found some serious personal freedom.

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