We are onions. Do you know why onions make us cry? There is a chemical reaction that occurs when you break through there layers that creates a weak version of tear gas. So I will say it again we are onions. We put on layers of personality that cover up our root self and when these layers are broken it can cause emotional distress, even tears. The problem with these layers is that they make it harder to see ourselves and they create false stresses in our lives. Now don't get me wrong these layers of self image protects the fragile core of our being from the rough and tumble nature of our world and this is an important and necessary function. However if we are ever to truly change and grow we have to look past our shields and see in to our own hart.
So wear to do these layers come from? I don't want to start a debate over nature and nurture, but I think they both play a role in the building of identity. These layers are constantly shifting, they come from our attitude towards our country, our social circles, sports teams we support, churches we go to hell it can even come from the blogs we read. The layers are the adjectives we use to describe ourselves look at me for example some of my layers are gay, gamer, male, student, liberal, smart cat owner. These are ways I see myself and more importantly ways that I can feel vulnerable when people want to insult me. We get defensive when our layers are challenged; we see this as an attack on who we are.
However these layers are more than just targets for hurt feelings. Think of them as the hood of your car underneath it is yourself awareness that which dives you that bit that makes you human. Without the armor of these layers it would be exposed to the world. Better to set a few targets out to let the world take shots at then to risk damaging the self. Sometimes big events, deaths, births, car accidents blow holes in these layers of protection and we have a life changing event. These are the moments when we see ourselves and start to see the need for change in our lives.
Once this process has begun we can start learning how to lift the hood and work on the engine. This is the process of personnel growth, the process of transforming our lives from what they are to what we want them to be. The trick to lifting the hood and seeing through the layers is introspection. An honest and unrelenting, unflinching look at who we are and why we make the choices we do is the only way we can know our selves. There are many techniques for doing this, some find meditation helps, I prefer writing. The important thing is to find a time a place and a method where you can look at yourself and take an honest assessment of who we are.
To all of you who have, like me, taken upon yourself the labor of becoming a better person, a happier person: congratulations! We are not alone in this. While the work is hard and the road can be long we can do this we can change and make life what we want it to be. Understanding the ways we define ourselves is an important first step and seeing below those definitions is just as important. Have a great weekend and if you agree with me or disagree leave me a comment.