Where do you find your identity—really, truly?
What things and people in life are you placing your happiness and worth on?
Are you looking for affirmation in your mad parenting skills or the success of your children? Or, perhaps, from your spouse or romantic other?
Maybe it’s your career and the praise of your colleagues where you seek your value. Or the success of your business or project
Perhaps it’s a lifestyle choice. A hobby.
It could be your appearance that you have hung your value on.
Looking for our wholeness and happiness in others and circumstances will always let us down. Every single time.
And that is one big weight we hang on those we love. It’s a lot of pressure. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that it is not loving. It’s dysfunctional.
You see, relationships can’t thrive, not well anyway, when we place the weight of our happiness on another person or their performance.
Spouses and family get tired and may say something short. They get selfish from time-to-time.
Kids make mistakes and misbehave. They have interests of their own—things that we wouldn’t love for them to pursue.
Friends forget to call. They sometimes let us down when we need them most.
And we will never truly be happy if our worth hangs on our circumstances.
Jobs can be lost, projects sometimes fail, weight can fluctuate, and money and our good looks are fleeting.
What if today you set those you love free?
What if you set yourself free?
What if you stopped hanging your worth on your romantic other (or lack of) or children or family or friends or acquaintances or circumstances?
Then if your romantic other had a tired, weak moment, you wouldn’t have to take it personally. Their thoughtless words wouldn’t affect your value. And a potentially explosive conversation could be deflated, if you don’t respond in kind.
Then if your children aren’t behaving or performing or pursuing interests as you would like. That’s okay. If you are not placing your worth on them. And how much more beautiful your relationship will be when you love your kids as they are. (I am not saying children don’t need guidance and discipline).
Then if your friend forgets your birthday or says something offensive or spends more time with another friend. Or the worse happens and they walk away completely. Do you know what? You’re fine. If your value is not wrapped up in how others treat or respond to you.
And when things aren’t going well at work? Or you haven’t met a personal goal? Or other people don’t value your work or insight? No worries. You’re not finding your identity in your job. You are not finding value in the success or failure of what you do or the opinions of others.
There is so much freedom here! For those you love and for you.
When your worth comes from something other than your circumstances and other people—you no longer put a weight on others and yourself that is too difficult to bear.
You set those you love free. And you set yourself free.
But where do you find that identity, if you are not looking to these roles and people in your life for worth and happiness?
I have spoken of it before here on this blog. Your identity comes from the fact that you were created in the image of God. And that is something that no human or circumstance can strip from you.
Not even your own bad behavior.
(Although, our true identity should make us want to walk aligned with who we are. It should make us want to be more like the God who lovingly created us in his image.)
You see, here is the beauty of this.
When you find your identity here, as an image bearer, your worth is no longer tossed and tumbled to-and-fro by the crazy circumstances of life. You no longer ride the waves of expectations or responses of other people.
You no longer place those people you love in a pressure cooker of unrealistic expectations.
What a gift to give to the people you love in life. What gift to give to the world.
And, as as a bonus…
You become happier.
Your relationships become healthier.
Your life becomes more balanced.
Your energy is freed up to focus on what truly matters.
What a gift to give yourself.
p.s. I should add that, although much of what I write about on this blog I discovered through research and experience or from the teachings of my faith, this concept is not something I understood or fully put into practice until more recently. I was greatly helped by reading the writings of another blogger about identity and happiness.
I was going through a rough patch several years ago, experiencing some extreme betrayal and rejection, and I felt about an inch tall at the time. I really needed to hear this truth. I desperately needed to learn not to look to others for my worth. And to not place the burden of my happiness on the shoulders of those I love. And since this truth has helped me immensely, I want to pass it on to you today.