Encountering Our Whole Selves: Putting the Puzzle Back Together

Have you ever felt defeated, like no matter where you look, there’s always someone who seems to have it all together, who is more prettier, or who is more successful? We can just be minding our own business, catching up on the latest TV show on Netflix, getting groceries, or catching up on social media, and all of the sudden the feeling sinks in. “Man he/she is so much more _______ than me. I wish I could be more like them.”

In today’s society, it can be near impossible to be immune to this experience. Messages about how we should look or what we should have are inescapable, and to be honest, the standards are infinitely unattainable (if not fake).  If we use these measures to gauge our worth and sense of self, we will be sorely disappointed in the least and devastated in the most. So how do we combat these messages? Well, when we are drawn to define ourselves and find our self worth in one aspect (like our physical appearance or possessions), balancing that perception with the other aspects of who we are and separating ourselves from society's messages can help offset any negative feedback we may receive about not measuring up.

Taking some time to remind ourselves that we are so much more than the way that we look or how much stuff we have, and being intentional to identify other aspects of ourselves, for example, who are we spiritually or who are we relationally, or who we are internally can remind us of who we are as a whole. This reminding can be done silently, out loud, or in a journal. The point is to take some time and check our thoughts, to ask ourselves “Do I really believe that because I do not look like that model that I am less than and thus should be unhappy? Or is that society's unrealistic standard telling me that I am not good enough?” And then affirming that “No, I am so much more than fitting into a size 00 or the make and model of my car no matter what society or others try to tell me. There are other parts, more meaningful, more long-lasting of me that make up who I am.” And then, as I mentioned above, taking time in really naming what these other parts are.

We may not be able to walk through the grocery checkout counter with our eyes closed nor filter out these social media posts, but with some practice in checking in with our whole identity, we can begin to build a secure whole-person identity that will guard us from the sinking feeling of unworthiness when we encounter society's unattainable standards. We can view the puzzle of ourselves the way it is supposed to be seen, in its entirety. 

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