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“There is no more potent leverage in shaping human behavior than identity…the benefit to knowing who you are is the ability to instantaneously shape all of your behaviors.”

–Tony Robbins
Re-Awaken the Giant Within

As an American, I’ve often wondered why so many of us struggle with self sabotage. Whether it be through adverse habits–addiction–depression–criminal behavior–treachery–or other means. How is it that someone can have the divine privilege of being born under the red, white, and blue, yet live an unappreciative, egocentric life that leaves the rest of the world STH (shaking their heads) in antipathy? Therapist’s couches are in high demand throughout the US; which is of extraordinary interest to me, I want to know why? In March of this year, I traveled to Nicaragua, a country with MUCH less, with these questions in mind, and now, I’m taking on Europe with the same curiosity. I’ve been intensely searching and I think the quote above, along with my travels, and recent life experiences, has shed a little light.

America has been built on labels in lieu of antiquity. Cities across the US are celebrating their centennials, the equivalent of life’s microorganism in the grand scheme of history.  With a past as deep as puddles, we have constructed other means of identifying who we are that typically stem from our zip-code, the square footage of our residence, the number of cars in our garage, institutions attended and diplomas received,  along with, how everyone else perceives our nuptials, our parenting, our career, our financial stability, our appearance–our life. If you’re not above average in these categories–well you might as well just kill yourself. If you are above average–you might as well just kill yourself as well since 9 times out of 10, all of those “things” will only leave you to feel…well…unfulfilled. And since killing ourselves is completely unreasonable, we settle on faking it til we make it by putting our best, make-believe face forward, juggling a few balls, and tap dancing like Mr. Bojangles to assure our audience we’re doing jusssssss’ fine! We waste so much time on charades that our short comings never have a chance. Eventually we get lost in the character until life, as it does, aggressively wakes us up. It forces us to snap back to reality and ask ourselves: Who am I? And when we’re in so deep we only see blurred lines–we end up on a couch somewhere–asking somebody else.

While I’m not one to recommend living in the past, I do believe that you can never truly know where you’re going, unless you know where you’ve come from. So while it’s great to make a bulleted list…I am this…I am that…those listings will not suffice. Those things, were shaped by your behavior and your behavior is shaped by YOU. You may be a pleaser…but why are you that way? It’s not enough to simply know WHAT you are–those are labels…of no value; you have to dig a little deeper and discover WHO you are. A life built on any other foundation is destine to crumble–destine. And when it does–if it already has–don’t beat yourself up. Appreciate the opportunity to to make those long-overdue repairs and start anew. With a solid foundation, the life you build, has no limits.