“Although we might think we’re a certain type of person, the more we witness the transient nature of body and mind, the more we realize that our true nature is forever undefined. As human beings we like to define things, to put labels on things, to put things in boxes. That’s especially true when it comes to ourselves, we like to think of ourselves as a certain type of person. We may wish we weren’t that type of person but we’ve still decided to think of ourselves as that type of person.” – Everyday Headspace, 2/6/2018, Headspace App
I spent most my life putting myself in boxes. I defined myself and my behavior certain ways because I believed that was “who I was”. I was a jealous person, therefore my jealousy was justified. I couldn’t help it. That’s just who I was. But emotions are always changing and my mind was able to practice control over them. Now, I am no longer jealous, and the first step was changing the way I talk to myself. I had to stop wrapping my identity int he emotion, in this weakness.
The same thing applies to many aspects of my life. I told myself that I just “wasn’t a runner” and that I didn’t and couldn’t be good at it or love it, and today I signed up for three 9+ mile trail races and have come to really enjoy running. I don’t identify as a “runner”, but I don’t identify as a “not runner” either. Running is currently an act I am capable of, it is a way to experience the world and this body that evolved for activity.
When I first started evaluating my diet and the ethics of food I was convinced that I could never be a vegan. I loved cheese too much, I could never give it up. I had a running script in my mind that highlighted my weaknesses, my lack of control, and I was just a victim of circumstance. All the ethical standards and health reports relating to dairy production meant nothing until I got rid of the internal dialogue that told me that I “couldn’t do it”. But here I am now, I vegan. It is still a struggle and I fail from time to time, but I know that I actually can live without cheese… all of us can. There is certainly a time and a place for exaggeration and hyperbole, but that place doesn’t include our minds and limitations.
Of course, sexuality and relationships are a big part of the human experience and how dynamic it can be. It is easy to classify myself as one thing “monogamous”, “straight”, etc. but those labels only box us in and put up barriers to new and authentic experiences. I had a drill sergeant once ask my company how we knew we were straight if we’d never sucked a dick. Crude, yes. But there was some truth to it. I certainly think that people know the basics of their sexuality from birth, it isn’t just a conscious choice and there is a genetic component to it, but if we take that genetic starting point and decide that we can never exist beyond it then we are just limiting ourselves. If I tell myself I could never be in a relationship with or have sex with or experience intimacy with a certain person based on genitalia, gender, or sexuality then I am only isolating myself from new opportunities.
Nobody should do something they don’t want to do or squicked out by, but that should be an honest response to a situation and not a mental model put in place in the abstract. We don’t know what we are capable of until we break down the negative identities that tell us what we are not, what we can’t do, what experiences aren’t true to us. We should be critical and examine all information received, particularly the information that comes from our own minds.
“There is nothing that is stable, and there is nothing that can be defined. That’s freedom.” – Everyday Headspace, 2/6/2018, Headspace App
Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?
Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions: pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”