I’ve been thinking a lot about a metaphor that has probably been used by others. It’s a way of thinking about the impact of our early childhood experiences has on our understanding of the world and our understanding of who we are.

We are born as perfect; by definition, we are the perfect manifestation of ourselves (because we are the ONLY manifestation of ourselves). Then we are given a packet of information from other people (mostly parents) that we carry around everywhere we go. The packet tells us things about the world (“the world is beautiful”, or “the world is a scary place” or “hard work pays off” or “everyone gets screwed”) and it tells us things about ourselves (“you are awesome”, “you are stupid”, “you deserve to be celebrated”, or “you deserve to be hit”).  NONE of these things are about us – they are about the person saying them. We aren’t smarter if someone thinks we are smart, and we aren’t dumber if someone thinks we are dumb. But that’s the only packet of information we have, so we carry it around. And we use it as a “reference” when we think about the world and, most importantly, when we think about ourselves and how we expect to be treated.

It’s important to understand how significant and all encompassing this is. All the ways we think about the world and about ourselves come from someone else.That means, well intentioned or otherwise, we are experiencing things based on our packet of information that we didn’t create and that says way more about the people who did than it says about us.

If we can think of this as a “packet” we are carrying around our entire lives, it is super empowering. Because it isn’t, and never was, about us. It’s something we’ve been carrying and we don’t need to carry it anymore. We can re-define everything we believe about the world and everything we believe about ourselves.

We can set down the packet and give energy to seeing the world, and ourselves, in whatever way WE choose