It’s during times of stress when it’s most important that we stay in contact with who we fundamentally are.
To remind ourselves of what we are fundamentally about.
To revisit our important goals and values— even when our progress toward some of those goals has been disrupted by the chaos and stress around us.
The reason why it’s so important we remember who we are during times of stress is, those are EXACTLY the times when it’s easiest to let those fundamentals slip away.
It’s easy to remember who we are and what we’re all about when everything is fine.
But when a stressor comes along and yanks our attention away from our goals and values— that’s when we can really feel alienated, lost, and alone.
We can feel foreign to who we are.
Self-esteem isn’t just about having a favorable opinion of ourselves. It’ about having a clear, compelling sense of who we are and what’s important to us.
It’s hard to have healthy, realistic self-esteem if we are not in touch with the most important aspects of who are are.
After all, if we don’t have a strong sense of who we are, then who exactly are we “esteeming” in the context of self-esteem?
The thing about stress is, it demands our attention.
By definition, a crisis or emergency stressor needs to be attended to NOW.
We have to interrupt, if necessary, our normal patterns of focus and routine in order to address it.
By definition, if we don’t address a crisis when it pops up, the consequences will be significant.
Thus crises and stressors have the very real potential to tear us away from our personal development journeys, the projects that we undertake day in and day out in order to live our values.
And if there’s anything we know about patterns, it’s that every time a pattern is interrupted, it’s harder to get back into that original groove.
That is to say: as crises and stresses yank us away from our lives, again and again, each time it gets get a little harder to get back to what we were doing…and, more importantly, who we are.
Over the course of time, we run the risk of forgetting who we really are.
We run the risk of not feeling like ourselves anymore. We’re just people who respond to these crises that keep popping up again and again.
(People who wish to brainwash and condition other people often break down their sense of personal identity in exactly this way: they introduce stressor after stressor, such that the person has a progressively harder time “remembering” who they are outside of their stress response.)
And when we don’t feel like ourselves, it’s hard to esteem ourselves.
What can we do, right here, right now, in the midst of all of this, to head off this phenomenon?
We can remind ourselves— consistently, purposefully, and clearly— of who we are.
We can keep things around us— quotes, pictures, prayers— that remind us of what we value.
We can intentionally connect to those people— mentors, guides, friends, therapists— who reinforce who we are.
We don’t have to let crises steal our sense of identity and self-esteem.
But if we’re going to remember who we are in the midst of all of this, it’s on us to be consistent and emphatic with the reminders.
The fact is, we can respond to crises AND be ourselves.
Crises don’t have to interrupt our journeys.
In fact, we can even respond to crises in ways that deepen our sense of who we are and what we’re all about.
But it won’t happen by accident.
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