Discovering When a Self-Image No Longer Fits

Sometimes we live with a picture of ourselves that used to fit us. We identify with likes and dislikes from last year, ten years ago, and from when we were a kid that have changed over time. They are woven into our lives and go unquestioned. We don't notice what's become stale, or makes us feel uncomfortable. But we do feel that something is off.

I remember a few years back when some friends gave me a box set of Aerosmith CDs called Box of Fire. I was super excited. I loved Aerosmith in high school. I saw them three times in concert. I thought it was the best possible gift. I must have thanked my friends twenty times.

Over the next week I listened to all the CDs and I was surprised that I wasn't enjoying them. I thought, "Something's wrong, I should be enjoying these, it's Aerosmith!" I think I even pretended liking them. But that's impossible to maintain. I realized Aerosmith were an important part of my life when I was 17, and I went on believing that they were still important. And they weren't. I'd changed, and I hadn't noticed.

Once the awareness of how I was different sank in, I decided to let go of Aerosmith. The recognition made it easy.

My clients constantly find things that they assume are essential to their life. Sometimes it's clothes they used to wear, or a hobby they were once practiced, or books they'd read. Bells go off in their head and hearts. Their grip tightens. But there is also a sense that something is missing. It doesn't feel real for them like it once did. There's a fantasy dream like quality going on. Upon simple questioning, it becomes apparent they are holding onto the remembrance of an experience that once made them very happy, but they actually don't feel that way about that particular thing now.

Sometimes sadness comes in. That's the separation and falling away that comes with recognition. That experience is often replaced with a feeling of becoming sober. I think of that as being present. That's an amazing quality because it's filled with openness and freedom. That makes us feel whole. And from there we naturally let go of an old image of ourselves and that things that went with it.