Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Self Definition

I have been thinking about the whole concept of self-definition; you know, how we describe ourselves to ourselves. I would have to say that his is different than how we describe ourselves to others. This is our basis for how we function in the world.

Ur-Spo had mentioned in his post about how there are times when a therapist will help someone with a problem, but instead of being thankful for having that "something" gone, the person is upset or even angry. Some had theorized about the person having to admit to a problem or some other things. I think it has to do with the person's self-definition.

If a person has a self-definition as a pathetic mess, that becomes the basis for that person's life. Everything the person does comes from the framework of "pathetic mess." Even though the person may define themselves to the world as competent, to the person, he or she is still a pathetic mess.

To try and help that person change that definition can be the cause of stress. The person may understand how being a pathetic mess is pulling him down, but it is still too scary to abandon that definition. A whole lifetime had been spent on maintaining that definition and creating a life with that definition. To take that definition away means that a whole new set of behaviors need to be learned. Either that or the old behaviors need to be modified. And learning or adapting behaviors feels uncomfortable; uncomfortable and it takes a higher level of energy than just doing "what comes naturally."

I think when I was "hetero," that was the self-definition I wanted to truly believe. I didn't want to give it up. Even though I knew I was not hetero, I was not going to give up the definition and the dream. It took much work to change the definition. It took such things as actually looking in the mirror and saying, "You are gay. You are a homosexual." I had to work to change that self-definition. I had to learn new behaviors. I had to adapt. It was not easy.

Now, I am dealing with changing another self-definition. I am trying to change from a Lutheran pastor to an Episcopalian priest. I know that being able to quickly make the transition would make life so much easier, but then I would have to change all the things I had learned. It feels uncomfortable and it takes a lot of energy. If I could go back to being a Lutheran, at this moment, I would. I know that I will probably be better off as an Episcopalian, but right now, I have difficulty in thanking those who are moving me along this path.

I had to tell the rector that is working with me that I do deeply appreciate her help. Even though at times I may not seem appreciative, I am. I am just fighting an internal battle that will take time. Eventually, the self-definition will change and life will go on. But until then, it is difficult.


Lemuel said...

I think you were wise to tell your rector of your appreciation and explain why it might not seem so at times. I think it will help her help you as you deal with you redefinition.

I relate to what you are saying and I have come to accept that such redefinition is a process that lasts as long as we live - if we are honest with ourselves.

Vic Mansfield said...

So many years of "convincing" myself I was straight! I understand. There is relief in accepting my gayness for myself, but still that "re-definition" takes time. Anything worthwhile, does. So I'm told.

Go easy on yourself. And congrats on the "anniversary" Hope you celebrated well!

Ur-spo said...

it sounds like what you call self definition relates to what Jungians call complexes. when one takes over, it snoockers you into thinking that is 'you'. then you realize it is not 'you' and it leads to re-defining the Self - no longer that complex.
however, you are talking near the end about changing your persona, which may not be your Self per se.