One way we come to know ourselves is by being aware of where we hang out. By “hang out,” I don’t mean a physical place, but a social-emotional space. Where we hang out influences how we know ourselves. The dark inner circle below represents our Core hangout. The lighter circle represents times when we hang out in the LOOP…the Land of Other People.

Our Core is where our True Self resides. It’s where we experience our true identity, worth, purpose, and potential. At our Core:

  • Our identity is unique from any other person.
  • We have worth because of who we are and not because of what we do.
  • Our purpose is to be our True Self and manifest our potential.

Just as an eagle is not to become a horse, neither is our purpose to become anyone other than who we are. Although we can admire other people, our only purpose is to be our True Self. When we say “Yes” to our Core and live in accordance with our true identity, worth, and purpose, we come to know and experience the fullness of our lives.

However, we also hang out in the Land of Other People. This is where we experience wonderful and dangerous things that take the form of:

  • OPOs: Other Peoples’ Opinions
  • OPEs: Other Peoples’ Expectations
  • OPAs: Other Peoples’ Agendas

What’s dangerous about the Land of Other People? By hanging out in the LOOP, we have the potential to forget our Core and True Purpose. We can become focused on pleasing other people. Pleasing other people is fine as long as we don’t deny our Core and sacrifice our True Self. However, if we routinely please other people by ignoring our own opinions, expectations, and agendas, we will experience the frustration that comes from denying our True Self.

  • OPOs and OPAs are not always in our best interest. They can limit our potential and conflict with our Core.
  • Our future should be charted by our own goals stemming from our Core and not OPEs.

A powerful example of this occurs in the movie Dead Poet’s Society. Neil is the editor of his high school’s yearbook. When his father discovers this, he insists that Neil give up his work on the yearbook so he can focus more on his studies and get into medical school. Later, Neil gets a major part in the school play and discovers his passion for acting. After a wonderful performance by Neil, his father embarrasses him in front of his friends and withdraws him from school where he had been discovering his Core and developing his potential.

But there are also wonderful things in the Land of Other People. Sometimes the OPOs, OPEs, and OPAs actually connect us to our Core. Others may want us to think, believe, and act according to our True Self. By believing in and reminding us of our identity, worth, and purpose, they help us know ourselves and awaken our potential.

The movie Lion King is a great example of this. The young lion Simba holds the false belief that he is responsible for his father’s death. Steeped in guilt, he rejects his role as king and leaves his homeland. While living off by himself, he meets Rafiki, a monkey who sees the true identity and potential of Simba and guides him back to his True Self.

Reflection: What have you experienced in the Land of Other People that has…

  • Had a negative impact on your sense of self?
  • Enhanced your sense of self?

From our Top 20 team, Willow, Tom, and Kevin, who play the part of Rafiki for others.

Paul Bernabei
Top 20 Training