Welcome to The Front Porch

Okay, dinner's over. The little ones are already at play in the yard. Lizzy, the devoted 'tween, is engaged in a lively game of giggle tag with the two toddlers. Braydon, while re-fitting the muffler to his dirt bike over at the side yard, is also busy pretending not to care. Grandpa has settled into his favorite lounge chair and lit his pipe. The twins are still at the dishes, noisily whispering about the recently discovered lump on Aunt Mary's left shoulder. Cool air brushes in off the nearby lake and shooes away the heat as well as the mosquitoes. The sun is heading for bed, and the long day rounds the bend towards home. There's just enough time left for a little light conversation and some good old-fashioned fellowship. So grab a seat here on the steps, or there by the old oak, and join in the discussion. Say your piece, or just while away the time listening to the chirping of the creatures hidden all about. Either way, we're here to entertain, enlighten, and encourage each other. And by the way, thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 18, 2011

OTHERS: How they define us, and why we should allow it

It seems counter-intuitive, but other people's perceptions of who we are are absolutely essential to a complete and well-balanced sense of Self.  Naturally, we know ourselves as an expression of our place and our passions, but (believe it or not) we also come to know ourselves more fully through the mouths and eyes of others.

By place I mean we know ourselves as a product of our environment, our circumstances of birth, our day-to-day existence. We are what we do with the baggage of our lives.

By passions I mean we know ourselves as our dreams, our unfulfilled potential, our new and improved better versions of ourselves. We are what we aspire to become.

By perceptions in others I mean we also know ourselves as the labels others pin on us that we accept as true. A story may help clarify this point: I recently saw a web interview of Kelly Clarkson the American Idol singer. In answer to the question when did she become a singer she responded this way: (paraphasing from memory here, so bear with me) "I always sang around the house as a kid, but it was not until I was in a choir around 13 or so that I discovered that I was a singer. We would be doing scales and I would just keep going up or down the scale past the rest of the group hitting notes the others could not reach. At that point people started "telling me" I was a singer." There and then, when she accepted others' perception of her as a singer, that's when Kelly's self-identity changed from normal kid to kid singer. And so it is with us.  We are, in addition to our place and passions, the labels we allow ourselves to internalize. 

That is why it is so important to monitor carefully both the mud and the flowers flung our way. The labels we hear and heed; the identity we formulate in response to others' perceptions is surprisingly vital. 

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