Every once in a while my dad invites the boys and me to go with him to the hill country to feed his cows. The land where he and my brother keep their cattle is my great-grandparents home place. Being there gives me a feeling of euphoria and a different self. It’s worth the 2-hour road trip.
After a couple of trips, I began to yearn for this feeling during the week. I just knew I was noticeably happier when we were there. It made me stop and ponder what is so different about my days in the hill country compared to my everyday life. I knew I needed to bring “her” home with me!
- The air seems fresher.
- There is no agenda.There are tasks we go to do, but what we decide to do with the rest of the time is whatever comes up.
- There are pastures and hills for as far as I can see.
- We fish. The boys touch earthworms.
- We ride the four-wheeler.
- The boys pee behind the barn.
- We stop at the church my great-grandparents attended and look at the renovations.
- We ride in the back of the truck.
- My dad is showing my boys how to work on things.
- The boys are learning about the work of raising cattle.
- We fix fence and plant ryegrass.
- Being there causes us to reminisce about coming to the hill country with my grandparents to visit my great-grandparents. They spoke Czech, and we couldn’t understand them. They taught us a few words.
- We are all care-free and smiling non-stop while there. I’m not sure that it does for the boys what it does for me, but it’s definitely evident it’s in their bloodline.
After brainstorming our day, it didn’t take me long to realize that what I love about this place is that it brings me back to the way I grew up. I’m a country, likes to work the earth, need room to spread my wings, don’t fence me in type of gal.
Yes, I can survive in the city and the suburban areas, and I have and am. But if I go a long time without getting back to my roots, I become stale and off-center. It’s because I’m disconnected from a part of my identity.
This experience accompanied by the way I had been feeling and living led to some soul-searching.
One really has to be idle, alone, at peace and silent to think about your true identity. Meditation mode if you will. We spend our lives chasing after our identity, trying to alter it, fix it, make it more like our neighbors, more like what the last self-improvement blog said we should be like.
We may not even know who we are or what we’re doing at times? That’s fine. We should always be evolving. But the more often we stop long enough to think about the whats and whys of who we are, the less we cater to conformity and conventionality.
Christopher D. Connors, the author of The Value of You, says, “So often in life, we live like actors- putting on a false self over our true selves to try and find happiness, humor or success. Our jobs can endorse this behavior but, sometimes we lead ourselves there when our minds go astray. The path of least resistance is choosing to live someone else’s life.”
Connor goes on to write:
“Every time that I find myself sputtering, falling off track and wondering what the heck has gone wrong, I remind myself that I need to get back to my roots. I define, “roots” as the values, principles and core spirituality that make me who I am.
The more we understand our spiritual side- the inner-working of what makes us who we are- the greater chance we have of finding inner-peace.”
Source: Christopher D. Connor
Inner-peace. That’s it. That’s the feeling I was trying to name. Something I hadn’t felt for some time. No wonder I couldn’t identify it!
I would come back from the hill country telling Chris that I’m not sure I need to live in the hill country, but I need to get myself moved to a place that gives me the feeling the hill country gives me.
I’ve known for a long time you can’t chase a feeling, but it was so euphoric. My feelings overtook my intelligence. Eventually, I got back to reality, and now I know I need to carry the feeling with me no matter my whereabouts. The work I really needed to do was to reflect on my values, principles, and spirituality. I needed to figure out why I had this emptiness I wanted to fill.
I absolutely love self-improvement. My girlfriends know that when they meet with me or talk with me I’m going to be pondering some way to improve myself or take myself to the next level in some area of my life. It helps to have those closest to you know where you’re headed and holding you accountable.
I’ve studied quite a bit about self-identity, and I’ve wrestled with my own. I used to enjoy being “deep” and figuring out this stuff, but I’ve had so much change over the last 5 years. The thought of looking at myself and trying to gain clarity on who I had become and what it was I truly wanted and valued now made me squint and shutter and cringe. It was that bad. It’s super easy to lose a sense of ourselves and not focus on self when becoming a parent.
I did the work though. It took months, but I was able to determine what I valued, what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with myself now that I’m a mom. It wasn’t all that easy to separate who I am from who I want to be or who I think I am or who I think others want me to be or need me to be.
I’m anti-busy in the sense of always having “so much” to do and running to and fro, and I try to be in the world but not so much of it. I try my best to be productive – not busy. This task was still intense for me, so I would imagine if one is always busy and an extrovert, this exercise may take even more time for you.
You’ve got to clear out all the outside influences and who you wish you were, and come to terms with who you are which is exactly who you were created to be!
I realized I needed to cull out the areas of my life that didn’t align with my core. I’m still at work doing so. It really does make life a little simpler in the area of decision making. Does that align with my identity? If so, it’s a yes or a maybe. No is a no.
The Benefits of Knowing One’s Self-Identity
- Happiness. You will be happier when you can express who you are. Expressing your desires, moreover, will make it more likely that you get what you want.
- Less inner conflict. When your outside actions are in accordance with your inside feelings and values, you will experience less inner conflict.
- Better decision-making. When you know yourself, you are able to make better choices about everything, from small decisions to big decisions. You’ll have guidelines you can apply to solve life’s varied problems.
- Self-control. When you know yourself, you understand what motivates you to resist bad habits and develop good ones. You’ll have the insight to know which values and goals activate your willpower.
- Resistance to social pressure. When you are grounded in your values and preferences, you are less likely to say “yes” when you want to say “no.”
- Tolerance and understanding of others. Your awareness of your own foibles and struggles can help you empathize with others.
- Vitality and pleasure: Being who you truly are helps you feel more alive and makes your experience of life richer, larger, and more exciting.
Source of the benefits of knowing your self-identity:
I challenge you to think about your identity.
Who are you?
Stop long enough to think about it.
How much of your day-to-day events align with your identity and how much of it are you going through the motions? Are you on the wheel? Are you living through the identity of the people in your household or social group? It may even be a little scary or stressful to ask yourself these questions, but once you’ve done the work the benefits are worth it.
Finding Your Self-Identity – Questions to Ask Yourself:
- What is important to me? Why is it important?
- What is it that brings me pleasure? Why does that bring me pleasure?
- What relationships are important to me? How are those relationships doing?
- What is it that attracts me? Why does it attract me?
- How do I view myself? What is your measure of how well I’m living? What am I measuring myself up against? Keep that in check.
- What is my gift?
- Do I know my life mission? What is it?
- What are my skills and talents? How am I using them to benefit the world?
- How do I feel about myself? Positive or Negative
- What do I know about my culture and heritage? What of this do I include or want to include in my life?
- Who are the people that I spend a majority of my time with? Are they what I want to be like? Am I what others need to have around?
- What am I working toward? Just trying to make it day to day or have goals
- What do I repeatedly envy about others? Is this what I wish for myself?
Call to Action
My visits to the hill country and me missing having dirt under my nails every now and then is only a small piece of my identity. But if we lose a piece of the puzzle here and there along the way, we can start to feel like we’re unhappy with our current life or misaligned. There’s that inner voice saying move in a different direction. We wonder if we should tune into the voice or run like Forrest in the opposite direction? YES! We should tune in, and the sooner the better!
Get back to your roots every now and then. That place or hobby or experience that brought you pure joy. The thing that makes you feel most alive. Chances are there’s probably not just one thing. Pick one. Let it bring out your best personal attributes.
Make sure you are on the path to fulfilling your purpose.
What I know is if you don’t define your identity and purpose, the world is waiting to define you and give you a purpose.
Shake off the dust, the cobwebs, the ho-hum routine, etc. Live intentionally and abundantly!
What does all this self-stuff have to do with parenting?
For the first part of our children’s lives, they look to us to find out who they should be, what they should do, and what is important. If they see we have a well-established self-identity, they will follow our lead. We can’t give our children their identity, but we give them the environment that forms their identity.
Just look at the benefits of knowing your identity. There’s no doubt your family will be influenced positively. It’s emotionally healthy, and we want to be that model for our children.
Include your children in this process. Our children deserve to see us happy, alive, in the moment and giving ourselves love. If you have grandchildren, you can never tell them enough about the positives of their heritage. This gives our children a boost of emotional healthiness and a strong sense of generational identity. (See research here.)
If you get serious about finding your identity, see these two articles:
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Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours! Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I love you! SS