Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Are there times when adversity around you is so incomprehensible you wonder if it's you who has everything wrong? We tend to question who we are when we experience severe trials.
It is as if events outside ourselves define who we are. This should not be.
Swirling around us are a wide variety of countless, conflicting opinions and a slim minority of healthy principles. One principle more than any other has helped me find grounding when experiencing self-doubt:
Our character comes from
the sum of every decision
we make in our lives.
Our every decision, down the tiniest twitch of thought, contributes to who we are.
Healthy decisions build
build weak character.
No one can take our decisions from us.
Nearly all people have the affliction of not being able to let go of painful memories. Much of our poor mental and physical behavior comes from clinging to coping mechanisms that are no longer valid or required. Such habits are very difficult to overcome.
Have you heard the phrase, Possession is nine-tenths of the law? Don't be like most people who cling to the past like it's their greatest possession. Instead, embrace your present and make one good and wise decision today. Then make another. Do this every day.
Depersonalization is an extreme case of not knowing who you are, or more specifically, feeling detached from yourself. This condition can manifest itself in various ways and degrees, including making you feel you've become detached from yourself and have become someone else observing you from the outside.
Simply said, depersonalization is your mind disbelieving it was you who was hurt.
This condition is not harmful or destructive unless it is allowed to grow into a long-term habit. If you find yourself with these kinds of feelings, seek help from a trusted friend or a professional counselor.
Walking home one Saturday afternoon
Many years ago on a Saturday afternoon after putting in some extra hours at work, I left the building and walked back to my car. At that moment, I realized I had left my wallet and keys on my office desk. I was the only one at work that day. This occurred before the invention of cell phones.
I felt my pockets and discovered I had no money or identification on me. What was I to do? I decided to start walking home even though it was five miles away. I needed the exercise anyway.
On my way, I realized that if someone hit me with a car badly enough, no one would know who I was. I would be a John Doe. Was whether or not I had meaning only determined by what I had in my pockets? I began to evaluate my worth.
Was I a person only because my money and identification said I was?
Such was a ridiculous notion to me even at the time, but that was how i felt.
It was a very instructive walk. I concluded from that experience that my value, uniqueness, and individuality should have come from the sum of my decisions, and not from what my wallet said.
Happiness vs. Trauma
A good part of maturity is demonstrating that we are happy despite what happens around us. We have the right and the responsibility to decide how we react to adversity.
Adversity includes not always getting our way.
Adversity can bring sadness and bitterness. It is beyond our capacity to remain steady under all conditions. When we experience adversity, we must decide—as soon as we can collect ourselves—how we will react to it. This can be extremely difficult to do. But it is a personal decision each of us must make.
When we find ourselves flooded with destructive emotions, it is often wise to wait until the next morning to make decisions regarding those emotions. It may take us several days or longer to calm down. But we must gather ourselves as soon as we can so we can make wise choices.
At the opposite extreme end of the "Who am I?" scale are those who claim to know themselves very well, and therefore are sufficient. Such a notion inhibits future maturity. Maturity is awareness. Can anyone truthfully say they are sufficiently mature?
Dealing with adversity can be the greatest challenge we will face. But, I affirm that as life progresses, what counts most toward our individuality and self-worth is what decisions we make and how we react to adversity.
No one will be able to take away from us our decisions' effects on our character.
The same goes for businesses and governments
One of the most pragmatic statements in the Bible is, "Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:20; see also Matthew 7:17; Luke 6:43)
If any institution is good, whether it be a local club, a municipality, a religious faith, or a government, it must produce good fruits overall. This is true worldwide since the beginning of time.
The principle of "your decisions make you" applies equally to businesses and governments as it does to individuals. The principle is sometimes called, "The Law of the Harvest." You reap what you sow.
If we focus only on our remaining weaknesses we will never feel happy about ourselves. It's natural and appropriate that the more we progress, the more we will become aware of what we lack. But this means we are heading forward, not backward. Therefore we must judge wisely.
If you have made some bad choices, you can start making good decisions now. How long before your circumstances begin to right themselves may not be under your control. But you will increasingly know who you are as you work to improve your circumstances through your life of good choices.