“Generally, one’s sense of self is formed by observations of oneself and of others’ reactions to one’s actions. Emotional consistency and predictability, across time and similar situations, are prerequisites of identity development.” This quote by Marsha M. Linehan summarizes well the process through which each individual goes in constructing a sense of self, beyond the issue of temperament. It begins from our earliest movements and continues as we move through our lives. Ideally, our self-identity or self-construct is one that has developed from an initially positive foundation and continues to develop along the same lines, being reinforced by healthy relationships. The reality, however, is that life may not have afforded many of us such an initial positive foundation and/or the positive experiences thereafter, which would have enabled us to have a current healthy and positive self-construct.
Why not deconstruct?
In reflecting on the intricacies of my life history, I remember distinct moments, especially as a teenager and young adult, when I longed to have a kind of “rewind” or “erase” button, to redo or eliminate some experience that I thought should have been different. This type of thinking kept me for a long time in, what I call, the “mistake” or “error” mode. I was constantly looking for where or, how, or, when or, why I would make my next mistake… After all, I knew that it was only a matter of time! 😉 And of course, with my thinking constantly and consistently in this mode, I constantly and consistently “believed” I was making mistakes and that everything was my fault. After all, everyone else was perfect. Who I was… was in error. My self-construct was in the negative.
It took the encouragement of some older, wiser women and men (I call them mentors), during my undergraduate studies, to help me to realise my potential and to acknowledge to my positive traits. With these new influences, I was able to begin establishing a positive self-construct.
It would be a lovely story to say that all one needs is the encouragement of some nice people, and wham! there you have your positive self-construct. Having encouraging, supportive, and wise people around me was one part; the other part came later: I had to self-deconstruct.
No… I didn’t write self-destruct. Self-deconstruction is what I have chosen to label the process by which a person has chosen to thoroughly examine his or her life. That is, to take apart one’s self: one’s memories, one’s beliefs about one’s world, one’s values, etc. In essence, to go through the process of continuing to ask yourself the question Why? over and over and over…. Why do I believe this? Why is it so? Why must it be? Until you have answers that are truly your own and/or that you can see more plainly why you believe as you do about yourself and about the world around you.
It is not an easy process – I will not say that the process can ever be completed, because I believe it is a process that should be ongoing… just like self-construction. It is in my opinion a type of yin yang: Self-deconstruction and self-construction are interdependent and interconnected, enabling us to reach a state of self-actualization.
And what have you found?
As I mentioned above, self-deconstruction is a process of stripping away, and looking plainly at the self. What is found there, however, may be deemed positive and/or negative.
In English, we often speak of “laying a solid foundation.” You could substitute the word “solid” with “good” or “strong,” etc. The point is that we believe that the start or base of something, whether organization or actual building, should be made of the kind of stuff that will not be easily shaken, or fall apart. I believe the same is important when laying one’s self-foundation.
In making the decision to undergo the process of self-deconstruction, with the inevitable self-reconstruction process to follow, one must consider self-foundation. What type of person do I want to be? How do I want to be understood by and engage with the world around me? Self-deconstruction offers the opportunity to lay a new foundation through acceptance of self and establishment of healthier relationships, both with self and others.
Acceptance of self means taking the core aspects of the self, i.e. both what is considered positive and negative. The key factor is find a useful/effective application for all aspects of the self in the world. Simply put, allow your strengths to continue doing what they do best, and work on understanding how your weakness (negatives) can become strengths.
Acknowledge who, what, and how you are
Challenge yourself to see the positive in all aspects of you.
It is a path to building your strongest foundation.
Best of Regards,
Monday, 5th of Sept, 2011: Strengths and weaknesses: How we let others divide and conquer us.
Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue. You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org. She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr