You Define You
(This is a step-by-step, progressive course; if you arrived at this page first, please back up and start at the beginning, HERE.)
If you’re well along the path to dealing with your problems using some of the options I’ve offered in this course, let’s tackle probably the largest problem, the one that leads to most of your desire to hurt yourself or others, to end your own life, or end the lives of others; the problem that, when you think about it, is probably the very root cause of any problem you could ever meet:
The definition of YOU.
Whatever you are, whoever you are, someone wants to put you down for it. If you’re young, someone will think you’re inexperienced, immature, ‘young and stupid’; if you’re old, someone will think you’re ‘out of touch’, losing it, a burden. If you’re female, someone will think you’re emotional, irrational, girly; if you’re male, someone will think you’re arrogant, egotistical, insensitive. If you’re American, someone in some country will think you’re fat, spoiled, evil; if you’re Islamic, someone in some country will think you’re fanatic, backwards.
If you are white, black, Asian, Hispanic, if you’re an artist or a jock, if you’re ‘good-looking’ or ‘ugly’, fat or thin, nerd or cool, someone, somewhere, will want to put you down for it.
People don’t just point out some things you should consider about your ‘condition’, they will actually attempt to define you by it, try to make you feel less of a person for it. It’s the age-old power struggle: I’m better, you’re worse. I’m right, you’re wrong. My country is better, yours is worse. My city is better, my job is better, my culture, religion, sexual orientation, car, whatever, is better, is right… and yours is worse, wrong.
I’m not talking about your actions – certainly, if you’re a serial killer or rapist or stalking and threatening someone, these actions will define you and condemn you because you are unsafe to the wellbeing of the people around you – I’m talking about the essence you were born with, and the things you were brought up. I’m talking about when people want to condemn you or hurt you simply because you have dark skin, or blonde hair, or live in the western world or the eastern world, or drive a Land Rover or a jalopy.
People grow up still being taught that they are right, their lifestyle is right, better, and by extension that others are wrong, worse. We’re getting better at correcting this mis-education, but it is still prevalent in every society, and some are much more militant about it than others; even in this twenty-first ‘civilized’ century most cultures still do not teach ‘We’re both good, only different’. They say, “We’re different, and my different is better than yours, mine is right.”
When there’s distance between you, people can band together in defense, and put others down at a distance. But when it’s close? What if it’s your parents, your friends, your neighbors, classmates, coworkers, your own people putting you down, defining you as something that is ‘not right’, simply for being the person you were born as? When you grow up having anyone near you treating you a certain way, people who have a lot of presence and power in your life, it is natural for you to start feeling defined by how they treat you.
It is okay for you to think about these things. If anyone is putting you down for anything, it’s okay for you to think about that. You’ll learn some things, about them and about yourself. There IS something about being American that makes many other cultures want to put you down. There IS something about being Irish, or Japanese, or Russian, or whatever, that makes other cultures want to put you down. There is something about being rich, that makes the non-rich want to put you down. There is something about being poor, that makes the not-poor want to put you down.
Yes, there are some cliches, some behaviors, some ways of thought you were naturally brought up with due to your culture and the circumstances of your life. It is well, healthy, to consider these things, especially if others disagree with them. But THINK about what others say about you, don’t be DEFINED by what others say.
If someone says you are acting young and stupid… you can think about what you are doing that might make them say that. Maybe a part of you is acting that way. It doesn’t define the entirety of you – there are many facets to your life and mind – but we all do things that can definitely be thought about, changed, done better, improved the next time.
If someone calls you old and out of touch… maybe there are parts of you that are. But you’ve also had a lifetime of varied experiences and have wisdom from those, so you can’t be defined as ‘only’ out of touch.
Many people from other countries target America as ‘evil’. Why? They didn’t just get that feeling from the moon, there are real reasons making them feel that way. This doesn’t mean America is evil, but it does mean that the reasons can be looked into… how American culture affects other cultures, how those other cultures are thought of and treated by Americans, and what the differences are that give rise to any hatred and conflict. But neither side should allow themselves to feel defined by the other. Think about it, but don’t believe the defining.
This is difficult, because we’re brought up with it. When you’re a child, people define you by that, treat you a certain way. If you’re into tech and computers, you’re defined as a geek; into comics and emo, you’re a nerd; into beer and four-by-fours, you’re a redneck; into nutrition and fitness, you’re a health nut.
But all kids aren’t alike; all Americans aren’t alike; all blacks, whites, gays, old people, criminals, lawyers, doctors, women, men, environmentalists, artists, teachers, homeless people, Somalians, aren’t alike.
When people define you and try to put you down for something you are, they attack your worth as a human being. The world around you, from family to friends to government to co-workers to TV shows, will all subtly contribute to telling you your self-worth. If you’re gay, you may have grown up your whole life being reminded daily by the words of those around you that you’re ‘wrong’, that something is wrong or ‘sinful’ about you. If you’re female, even cultures that have made huge leaps in evolution towards women’s equality and rights, still have daily language and behavior that puts women down, and there are cultures that are still so devoid of this equality that women are, even in this modern day, considered powerless, valueless, property.
Unfortunately all people in all cultures are still imprisoned to some extent by others defining them, and this pervades all levels of each culture. You can’t see someone succeed, without someone else wanting them to fail, to be brought down. You can’t see someone down, without seeing someone else thinking they’re scum for being down, losers, and wanting to kick them, degrade them even further, for being down. You can’t see someone in the ‘middle’, without someone else putting them down for being average, for not ‘getting ahead’, for not being ambitious enough.
This defining of people, by other people, doesn’t just hurt; it kills. What do you think wars are mostly about? How about religious persecutions throughout the ages? How about the Nazi holocaust and extermination of Jews? How about the extremist Jihads? How about gay bashing? How about the young committing suicide due to bullying? How about the slavery and killings of African Americans for the last couple centuries? How about the mass wars, killings, and finally forcing the American Indians all onto reservations?
This thought process invades all your levels of being, and from childhood to old age. If you’re being bullied because you’re weaker or different than those around you in some way, those bulliers want you to feel that way. They want you to feel awful, wrong, like you’re nothing, and this satisfies their feral need to feel powerful, in control, better than you. If you’ve been abused in any way, this satisfies your abuser’s desire to affirm their own power and rightness, and their thought that you are less than them, that you are merely something to be controlled, hurt, injured, used by them in whatever way they want to.
And this treatment of you is what causes so much depression, self-mutilation, self-hurting, suicide, or, at its most veiled, simply a weak sense of self for your entire life; you feel awful, empty, valueless, because others have treated you that way.
I can spend the next few days just writing those ‘how about’ examples, from thousands of incidents the world over since humankind began.
But I want to bring all those happenings to a pinpoint for you: there is absolutely no state of existence you can be in, there is nothing you can believe or say, no lifestyle you can have, no way you can look or act… without there being someone wanting to put you down for it.
So… stop believing it. Stop feeling the way those people want you to feel. Stop allowing their definition of you to define you in your own mind. Just because they are someone powerful – your family, friends, parents, someone famous, someone really smart – don’t give up your own self-definition over to how they want you to think of yourself.
Yes, they may say things that make sense, they may say some things that seem true about you. But those are just parts of you, and those observations are being filtered through the experiences, weaknesses, prejudices, knowledge, and lack of knowledge, of the people saying them.
Inside yourself, let only you define you.
You may have to act cautiously, walk carefully, speak quietly, maybe you are daily being attacked or imprisoned by those who hate what you are and scream how bad you are and that it’s all your fault… they’re defining you and trying to force that definition into every corner of your life and soul.
But inside you, stop believing it.
You may never stop them from believing it, you may never have that power; but you will always, forever, have the power to make yourself stop believing it.
I’ll give you the only true defining one person can give another: you are whoever you know you are.
Think about how others define you, think about you, and them, and what makes them define you their way. Think about it because it helps you see yourself from others’ viewpoints, helps you to learn about other people and how you see them, too. So think about it, yes.
But don’t believe it, don’t believe their definition of you.
Find it from within yourself. YOU define YOU. And become stronger by the hour, every hour you insist on believing only your definition of yourself.
A significant part of any problem in your life, is that to some degree you have allowed the world around you to define who you are, and you have not yet grown out of feeling the way they are trying to make you feel. Isn’t it time to dissolve those feelings, and decide who you are, and how you want to feel, for yourself?
So you’re moving through your problems, one step at a time, and along the way you are beginning to take back your own definition of you. For now, this is the final step of The Course. – Did you think there was another goal more worthy to work towards? Even when you’re dealing with difficulties, trying to cope with excruciating life problems, whether you ‘solve’ them or not, your highest being is always defining itself within each happening.