A few weeks ago, I read a fascinating book on Abraham Lincoln that was full of interesting facts about the 16th President of the United States.
One fact that grabbed my attention was how Lincoln, as a political candidate, wanted to be viewed while campaigning. He had a definite image that he wanted to plant in the voters’ minds and it was the image of a rail-splitter. He wanted to be known or seen or understood as a rail-splitter, work he had done as a young man, long before he became a lawyer or politician.
It made me think about how each of us wants to project a certain image of ourself. We want others to see us in a certain way. While we may not be campaigning for political office, we are always trying to plant in others’ minds the image of our self that we most cherish.
The biographies we write and post on our websites show clearly how we define ourselves and how we want others to define us.
We all choose from a common pool of defining characteristics, one or two or three, that we most want others to notice about us.
As I thought about it, I listed more than 20 defining characteristics in a matter of moments. See which of these you use regularly to tell others who you are.
One’s work, sexuality, marital status, family, interests, education, religion (or lack of it), weight, money or lack of it, parents, one’s parents’ accomplishments, one’s own accomplishments, failures, loves, resentments, talents, what one has accumulated (cars, clothes, homes), one’s appearance, heroes, dietary habits, health or lack of it, travels, gender, race, nationality, friends, what one shares, what one hoards (keeps private).
I’m sure many more characteristics that we all share could be added to this list. Yet from these many things, we choose a few to say, "This is who I am."
I wonder if, periodically, we could change our life experience by consciously choosing a different set of characteristics to define ourselves. If we define ourselves differently, would we actually become different people? Would a new self-definition usher in a newer, fresher experience of life and living? Just something to think about.
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