One of the things I struggle with most in my life–one of the things I think we all struggle with–is self-perception. It’s not necessarily that the way we perceive ourselves is bad or negative, but a lot of the time, I think they way we perceive ourselves is, quite simply, inaccurate. That is something we must all learn…or, unlearn…
Let us now turn to the greatest teaching tool in all of history–Star Wars…
When Luke Skywalker first began his journey toward becoming a Jedi Knight, his self-perception was largely informed by the things his Uncle Owen Lars had told him about himself, about his history, and about his family. Those things weren’t necessarily false, but they certainly were not the whole truth.
What people tell us, and what we tell ourselves doesn’t have to be false to be untrue.
Upon his arrival on Dagobah to begin training with Yoda, Luke had come quite a long way since Obi Wan Kenobi took him from his home on Tatooine. But, he still had in his mind that he was just that simple farm boy; no one of much significance in the universe; always faced with the things he was unable to do.
Then, Yoda, the last living Jedi Master spoke words to Luke that would change both his outlook and the outcome of his destiny.
You must unlearn what you have learned.
With those words, Yoda started Luke down the pathway that would eventually lead to his defeating the Emperor and redeeming the soul of his father, Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader), himself a case study in how self-perception can radically change the course of life.
So, what does that have to do with me and you and the universe outside of George Lucas’s imagination? Well, just like Luke, we must unlearn what we have learned. We must stop believing all of the negative things that we’ve been told and that we tell ourselves and learn what the truth really is.
I am Darth Vader.
For a lot of years I fancied myself strong and ruthless. I thought that was a good thing. Strong and ruthless people don’t get hurt. They’re impervious to injury and damage. Strong and ruthless people can withstand any assault.
But, something else that strong and ruthless people do is hurt others who they see as a threat–because really, they aren’t that strong.
When movie-goers were first introduced to Darth Vader, he seemed to be the ultimate villain. All bad. Evil. Sinister. Strong and ruthless. It was only later that we learned the truth. Darth Vader was a sad and tragic character who spent the better part of his life believing things about himself that someone else told him.
And that was me.
I hurt people out of weakness, not out of strength. I burned bridges to avoid getting hurt and only hurt myself more in the process. I separated myself to avoid being cast aside and left alone. And the irony in that is rich.
We are ruthless because it’s easier than being vulnerable. But, in the end, our ruthlessness turns inward, and the people destroyed are, well…ourselves.
I’m actually a worried, fussy protocol droid.
When I finally figured out that strong and ruthless were not necessarily a good way to go, that left me a little lost. My self-perception and my identity were so wrapped up in those beliefs that I didn’t have anything to replace them.
Then I realized my true nature (not necessarily my true identity).
I am C-3PO, human cyborg relations.
Who I really am is a sort of worried and fussy guy who like things in order and sees his main mission in life as that of providing help and assistance to people who need it–and maybe a little comic relief along the way.
Now, you may be thinking, “Jason, I don’t want to be like C-3PO. He was always finding his way into trouble at the hands of R2-D2 who seemed to revel in the act of getting him there.”
Well, that would be understandable if that’s who he really was. But, it’s not. Yes, C-3PO did end up in a lot of precarious situations, but he always came out on top. And, most of the time, he was a big part of saving the day.
He made people’s lives easier. And that is not a bad person (or droid) to want to be.
Put down the mirror. It is not your friend.
I’m sure you’ve heard someone at some point in life say something like you’d better go take a good look in the mirror young man/lady. I know that I sure did. But, I have some advice for you…
DON’T DO THAT!!!
When you look in a mirror, what do you see? You see yourself the way other people see you. That is the sort of self-perception we should try to get away from, not lean in to.
Real change in self-perception comes from looking at yourself from the inside out. It comes from shedding all of the lies and half-truths you’ve been told by other people and by yourself, and seeing yourself for who you truly are. Once you do that, then you can change that perception and begin to change your life.
Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that I believe myself to be an expert on this subject. Far from it! I’m still changing my self-perception…daily. And it’s some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. Sure, I’m C-3PO now, but maybe some day I’ll be Luke, or Obi-Wan, or Yoda. Who knows?
The point is that self-perception, how we see ourselves, plays a huge role in both our outlook on, and the outcome of our lives. Self-perception changes everything…
It can change good to bad.
It can change bad to good.
It can change worthy to worthless.
It can change worthless to worthy.
SELF-PERCEPTION CHANGES EVERYTHING!
Take a good look at yourself. What do you see? Who do you see? Do you see the person you or someone else has always told you that you are, or do you see the truth?
Find it. Find you. Let is change your life!