We all have that moment when we look in the mirror and truly see ourselves for the first time. It might be the day of a big birthday, graduation from school, or for some, the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness. It’s a moment when clarity mixes with curiosity. A split second when you ask the question, “Who am I?”
I spend a lot of time in my studio and I listen to podcasts to keep me company. This is a recent shift because music used to be my go-to studio mate, but there’s so much to learn that the podcast has been like being in a virtual classroom. Listening to podcasts coupled with watching interviews on the DVR gives me plenty of material to convert into creative iterations of my life.
On Super Soul Sunday Oprah interviewed Pastor A.R. Bernard. A pastor for forty years he has one of the largest congregations in the country. Well-spoken and thoughtful, he gives you the feeling like you’re sitting in his study ready to experience an epiphany. He turned to Oprah and said, “Every personal crisis starts with an identity crisis!” Can you think of anything more poignant when considering the diagnosis of an illness?
When we couple the question of mortality, quality of life, and identity in one equation we’re faced with a big challenge…who are we? What makes us who we are? What do we need to learn? How will this/these experiences change my life, change me?
I’ve facilitated thousands of hours of support groups over my twenty-five years as a therapist. The question of identity is center to a diagnosis. All too often people surrender to a label. All the qualities they embodied prior to the doctor saying, “I’m sorry to tell you….” disappear into thin air. There is a tendency to redefine ourselves by our diagnosis, our side-effects, even our limitations. What would happen if we redefine ourselves by adding qualities instead of subtracting them. Imagine adding qualities like determined, dedicated, self-loving, and conscious to your personal identity!
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times in these posts, “We may not get well, but we can always get better.” So how has your identity been altered? What do you see in the mirror that you may not have seen prior to your diagnosis, or other life challenge? What new qualities will you inhabit with your ever-evolving identity?
We’re all in this together…I’d love to hear your thoughts!