I am a mother, I am a friend, I am good at my job, I am . . . We hold many roles, we identify with them, and we use them to define us. Our roles give us a sense of purpose and validation. Putting effort into improving our roles helps us develop professionally and in our personal relationships.
But we run into trouble when we use these roles to define our self-worth.
What happens if the nature of our roles change? Do we become less valuable? Logically, we can say no, but many of us still cling to incorrect perception.
How I Let My Roles Define Me
I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. I am a yogi: student and instructor. I had a cute yogi body and I thought it represented how much I loved yoga. I could post inspirational pictures of myself, looking great, and I could talk about things I believed in. I talked about healthy eating, nurturing good relationships, and practicing yoga.
Then I gained 10 pounds.
Suddenly my inspirational photos showed muffin top and side boob. I thought, “I can’t post this, or no one will believe in yoga.” I thought my body, its shape and appearance, validated my opinions.
Was I really buying into the lie that I am only my body? Really? I spend the beginning and end of every class telling my students they are enough, exactly as they are, and I believed it with all my heart, but I stopped feeling it for myself.
How I Broke Free from Defining Roles
When we seek to be admired, we lose the opportunity to be known and loved. Wouldn’t you rather be known and accepted for the wonderfully quirky person you are? Wouldn’t that be refreshing?
I started opening up to my friends, family, and my yoga students about my struggles and goals. I posted more of my “fail moments” on social media. I told them how I’d lost my cool, and how I was trying to make amends. I started learning how to process my feelings, rather than trying to numb them/eat them away.
I leaned into those feelings and looked at where I needed to change or let go. On the days I feel most self conscious about my body, I take off my shirt in yoga and literally face my insecurities in the mirror. I tell myself, “I love my body. I am so grateful for the body that I get to experience life in.”
I pause, and feel how precious my body is, knowing that it’s incredible, but it doesn’t define me.
It’s not enough for me to impress people. I want to know people. I want them to know me. I want them to know that even though I love health and fitness, I also love Nutella. And that doesn’t make me a fraud, it makes me human, and relatable.
Find Your Truth to Break Free of Your Defining Roles
What’s your truth? I can tell you that you are more than your body, your job, your health, your relationship status, how your children behave, or how clean or dirty your house is.
You are worth love and belonging, even if you overate at your last meal, or handled a situation poorly. One of my favorite meditations is simply, I AM. Inhale “I”, exhale, “AM.”
Repeat this in savasana, or during a moment of quiet reflection – it can be incredibly empowering. You matter because you exist. As you inhale “I” and exhale “AM,” feel the sense of connection to yourself grow, feel your worth, and make space in your heart to accept it.
Move Past Defining Yourself, and Love All of You
True connection comes when we start getting real, and sharing it with others. I’m not suggesting you tell everybody you see your business, but find your safe person and let them in a little.
When I started opening up about my insecurities, I found tremendous acceptance and connection. More often than not, my friends breathed a sigh of relief and shared, “Me too. I’ve been there.”
Admitting your truth doesn’t mean you’re giving up or giving excuses. It just means you’re owning your story while striving to improve. It means not letting your roles define your worth. When you stop filling in the blank of who you think you’re supposed to be, you’ll start letting “I AM,” be enough.