Am I what I believe I am or my belief about what I am?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

What happens when I perceive myself through the filter of my beliefs about myself?  We all have beliefs about what we are like; we have assumed them since our childhood.  There is always someone who tells us what we are like and how we should be and the model we should follow.  We are living beings equipped with lots of tools that we nevertheless handle awkwardly.  We can become a particular way or the opposite, if we feel driven to it.  In short, we are very flexible, but we are also very naive.  Almost like children who see a film and live through it as if it were really true.  Well the same thing happens to us who are already adults: we think that the beliefs, thoughts and judgements etc. that we have cherished, sometimes without realising it, are all the reality we can be.  We are a living being that is able to create and devise thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, judgements, comparisons etc. and we tend to be unaware that we are much more than that.  We also have the ability to observe, and question, to turn things inside out (like a sock), to try new responses, new approaches, to explore and re-create ourselves.

Often we imagine that we are what we believe about ourselves, which is just the result of us comparing ourselves with an ideal, to which we consciously or unconsciously aspire.  You will appreciate that believing that I am fantastic or that I am a disaster is no more than a belief that I do not question. 

So, we live and we perceive ourselves through what we believe about ourselves and this always involves an internal point of conflict, since we rarely consider ourselves to be perfect and to match the ideal we have.  That is not very healthy.

We cannot see the wood for the trees.  I mean that despite all of the beliefs we have we do not allow ourselves to see ourselves as we are, or what we really are.

Could you feel for a moment as you would if you did not have any beliefs about yourself?  Could you stop thinking that you are better or worse, good or bad, skilful or awkward, intelligent or not, fortunate or unfortunate, a victim or a tormenter, active or lazy?

Imagine that you were born and lived in a place where nobody minded what anyone was like, nobody minded whether or not you fitted a model or ideal, nobody minded if you were tall or short, fat or thin, pretty or not very pretty and you were simply what you are.  Imagine yourself in that situation and observe what you feel inside you.  Do it now.

If you feel better, then that is how you can choose to live from this moment on.

Every time that you find that you are criticising yourself or criticising someone else, observe what the belief is that is impelling you to do it, observe the tension it produces in you and where it is taking you, and choose not to cling to it.  Let it pass and live without the filter of your belief.