Chilly thinking pic by Ithan Hurd
“You will never outperform the self-portrait you have of yourself. Your self-portrait determines your self-conduct.” ― Dr. Mike Murdock
If you’ve kept up with me long enough, you’ll realize that the last couple of posts have been a string of thoughts, different but similar in their nature. I broke down my one thing sometime back to how I perceive success and failure but recently, I realized that the one thing I’m dealing with, the one thing I’ve been dealing with all my life, is how I see myself. My self-portrait.
Your self-portrait is how you collectively perceive yourself – past, present and future, and it’s deeply influenced by your thoughts. That’s why I spend most of my time reading and watching things that influence how I think. If we want to change our lives, the simplest thing we can do is introduce new thoughts. It’s that simple. A new thought about your life, about who you are, where you are and where you’re going can significantly change the trajectory of your life.
It would shock you to realize that as much as we have all advanced in age (I’m 28) some of us have literally repeated versions of ourselves year after year after year. You know, for example, you break up with a guy because ‘you deserve better’ only for you to break up with the same version of the guy you broke up with over and over again. This doesn’t mean that there’s no good guys out there, what you’re really trying to break up with is aspects of yourself brought out so perfectly by those you date. It’s the same career-wise. Some of us have ‘dumped’ the same boss or quit the same job over and over again. The common denominator? Us.
“Many people are willing to change their circumstances but unwilling to change themselves.” ― Jim Rohn
That’s because inner work is tough. But Jim Rohn (look him up when you can) attributes his success to reading books and learning from them. He even encourages people to work harder on themselves than they do on their jobs because it will lead them to success. Now someone tell that to the 844 system. Somebody! I kid. Sort of. Doing some inner work doesn’t change your destination overnight, but it can change your direction overnight. And that’s worth it. I’ve had the wonderful guide of The Artist’s Way workbook by Julia Cameron to help clean up my self-portrait creatively and relationally. Such a blessing. Thank you Portia for the recommendation. Guys, it’s been such a breath of fresh air to the creator in me, and I seriously recommend it. The book has opened me up to remembering things that I thought were insignificant but have shaped the way I act and view myself. I’ve found out the root of my fear of singing or expressing myself in public. I have recalled champions of my creativity and I have trashed and burned memories of ‘villains to my creativity’ that I allowed to hold me hostage creatively.
One of the things that came to light was my almost ever ticking desire to travel or to be on vacation. I used to say that I didn’t want to travel so that I can run away from something but because I needed to push pause on my life and be open to something different. Sounds like running to me. Haha! See, at first sight it screams wanderlust. Okay. But deeper still, the desire for a vacation was simply me wanting the situation to fix itself as I was somewhere else ‘recuperating’. This was my song from the day when we started planning the wedding in 2013 up till 3 months before the day. It was tough planning a wedding without enough cash and I just felt out of control. Naturally, because escape is easier than change, I longed for a vacation. And I got it. Twice. Did I return any different? Sadly, no. My inner struggles about who I am in light of what I was going through packed suitcases with me to Ukunda, Thailand, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and they also returned with me. No surprise there. I chose this example from my life because it’s so common for us ladies to long for a get-away, a vacation or some extra (extra) time off our usual routine when essentially, what we’re struggling with is confronting how we allowed things to get to the level they are at because of giving away our power to our situations and our history.
“Leave out of purpose. Not out of fear.” ― Sarah Jakes Roberts
Besides the vacations, how many decisions in your life like leaving a job, moving out, relocating have been primarily based on fear or escaping something that needed to be addressed? What I have found is that these problems and situations go with us because they manifest from deep within. It might be unresolved issues that we went through earlier on in our lives. It might be perceptions we have toward a certain type of people or gender. It might be the way we think people perceive us because of what we perceive of ourselves. The solution is easy: We need a change from within. We need to resolve and settle what’s eating us inside otherwise it’ll keep showing up in our lives till change do us part.
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.” ― Jim Rohn
Ain’t that the truth Jim! Even God would rather have you repeat lessons and redo aspects of certain years of your life than to let you move forward because if that unresolved thing inside of you shows up in your destiny, it’ll set you off-course. And you know God doesn’t mind waiting on you. He’s so patient. Time isn’t a game changer for Him. So if you try the waiting game with Him, guess who’ll lose? Yep. You.
I’m at a point in my life where I’m being intentional with my inner work. If God reveals something that needs resolving in my life, then it must mean that there’s grace enough to face it. The choice is up to me. I might not have shared this, but last week, I got to understand my purpose with clarity. I know for sure that I’ve been called to influence how people see themselves and in order to do that, there’s a work that needs to be done in me for me to be able to rightly see who I am. A blind man can’t lead another blind man, am I right? If I want to walk in my purpose, that inner work is necessary. And now, the struggles I’ve had with my self portrait for years also find meaning. Like Henri Nouwen said,
“The great illusion of leadership is to think that a man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there - Henri Nouwen” Click To Tweet
I know what and to whom God has called me to. And because it’s so important, because there’s a greater purpose at stake, this inner work is necessary. I’m giving all of myself to it. Whatever it takes. However long it takes. Because this is how you redeem time: Do the inner work and you can handle, with clarity, anything that will be put in your hands.
Meantime, give us heaven-sight Lord. That we may see ourselves the way You see us.