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Hello Dr. Matt,
My name is Casey, I'm 16 years old. I live in Connecticut.
My question is sort of two questions I need help in. In school I'm always picked on. The "popular" guys in my class are two faced; they're cool around me alone but when they're with their other buddies I see them gossip about me. I'm sometimes trying to be weird-funny to fit in but sometimes it fails and brings me lower on the social scale. I have none of my close friends in my class to hang out with so I'm usually alone. Any help here?
So onto my more serious question. I honestly, have no idea who I am. I've always based who I am around who I'm with. I'm known to make people laugh and be more feminine, easily more socially connected around girls, but I don't at all have a colorful sexual orientation. I want to know who I am. No matter the cost.
Please reply whenever you can.
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It's quite common to define yourself in terms of how others perceive you. Your words hit the nail on the head: "I've always based who I am around who I'm with." Bingo, that's how most people define their identity. This is precisely why Charles Horton Cooley developed the Looking Glass Self Theory:
According to Cooley, it's NOT really how others think of you, that ends up defining YOU — but how YOU PERCEIVE that others are thinking of you. Here's are the basic elements of the Looking Glass Self:
1 - How I imagine I appear to other people.
Social Psychologist, W. I. Thomas, said this about self-perception, a statement that is really half-right and half-wrong: "That which you perceive as real, is real in its consequences"
This statement is especially true when you perceive yourself in negative, self-defeating ways. The "consequence" of perceiving yourself as LESS than you are, is that you will behave according to your diminished self-image.
On the other hand, thinking yourself to be MORE than you really are, doesn't result in MORE productive consequences for you. For example: Certain bad singers who try out for American Idol, are still "bad singers" even when they think themselves to be "great singers" — and fancy themselves to be the next American Idol. In many instances the Reality of Truth will outweigh a Self-Deluded Attitude.
The well-worn saying that "Attitude is Everything" is NOT quite right: We live in a world where physical limits present constraints that a positive attitude cannot overcome. No matter how positive you are, there are only 260 annual opportunities to be on the Oprah. So, of the million people who want to be on Oprah in any given year, more than 999,000 are going to be disappointed— even if their "attitude" is perfect and positive.
Instead of trying to "attitude" yourself into a more wonderful You — thinking yourself to be a Lion when in reality you are a kitten — a superior approach to Self-Identity & Fulfillment is this: Live Life with little or no concern with how others are thinking of you, and better, Live Life with little or no concern for how YOU are thinking of you.
While it is important to hear certain reliable reflections from the Social Mirror, still, the majority of what others think and say about you are Vain Imaginations and Vain Babblings -- two terms used in the Bible. "Vain" comes from the Latin word Vanus, meaning Empty. Also thinking yourself to be something you are NOT (at least NOT yet), is a Vain Imagination too! Why so? Because you really can't "think" yourself into essential CHANGES of yourself at your Core and from the Heart.
Most of what you hear on the Radio and Television, and most of what you read on the Internet are Empty Imaginations and Babblings! Obviously, you should not shape your life around "Empty" Information.
The way you break out of the self-defeating trap of allowing other people (and other influences in your environment) to define Who You Are, is to focus upon the Only Vote That Counts.
Instead of trying to be funny and clever around the "popular people," you can realize, once and for all, that their "vote" (spelled with a lower-case "v" because it's mostly unimportant) is not necessary for you to Live a fulfilling life and Be the Best you can Be.
The Popular People will either like you, and want to associate with you, or they will not -- let things BE as they will BE. Keep your Focus upon the Only Vote That Counts. You might also question, in the first place, why you are concerned about the Popular People? Why not seek out friends that share the same Values as you, and are passionate about these Values -- these individuals may, or may not be, the popular people.
Here's a Principle to be applied:
"If a ladder is not leaning against the right wall,
If you climb a ladder that leans against the wrong wall, no matter how high you climb, your eventual destination will be off.
Beginning with a wrong question about WHO YOU ARE is like leaning a ladder against a wrong wall. The Question of "How Other People See Me" is a Wrong Question and Wrong Wall. You should NOT lean your ladder of life against Wrong Walls, else you're destined to go Nowhere.
An intriguing paradox that Jesus taught 2,000 years ago reveals the Right Wall against which you should lean your ladder, and then commence climbing:
"He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it."
Casey, what this teaching by Jesus suggests for you, is this: The more you focus upon trying to find your life in the definitions that others have of you, the more you will lose your life. But as you lose your focus upon the question of self-identity completely (at least lose the self-identity that is found in the social mirror), and instead, lose your life for His Sake, you will naturally find your Life, and your Self-identity.
The Only Vote That Counts, is the one that comes from your Creator -- what He Knows about You, IS Who You Are. So listen to His feedback. And what is the Creator telling You, about You? It's written about your Heart:
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them" (Hebrews 10:16)
The Secret to finding your self-identity is already within you: You need only to begin listening, and then living in harmony with your own Intuitions of Truth -- as you do, you will Find Yourself. The pathway to finding Your Identity and Purpose is discovered in a Journey:
For this is the Journey that men make:
If you have any questions, please ask them?
Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Dear Dr. Matt
This is helping a lot. But a few questions come up in my mind. What should I tell myself when I'm being gossiped about or stressing out about people looking at me in a particular way or are laughing at me in a disapproving way? What should I do when a friend of mine isn't around in my class (because this is usually the case)?
This second question brings up another topic that may need revising. (If this is getting hard to reply to the many subjects I bring up, I apologize) I can't find very good friends to really confide in at my school and I haven't really made an effort to do so because most of them aren't the best of people.
You shouldn't be telling yourself anything: You can cease talking to yourself completely, as you do what Jesus taught: "pray always."
Praying always means that you are continually connected to the Source of all Creation! It is only when you cease to pray, that you lose this vital connection and get into your EGO!
Read John 15:1-5, and realize that unless you are connected to the True Vine, "you can do nothing."
Here's are two quotes I posted on my facebook wall recently:
"What other people think of me is none of my business.
"Those who live ego-centered lives tend to shape their thinking and behavior
Casey, when you are "praying always" you will have no time to notice the "gossiping" and the unwanted "looks" and "laughing" AT YOU -- You need to get yourself OFF Center Stage.
So you haven't really made an effort to find "good friends," because you have judged them as NOT being "the best of people."
Let go of all your judgments of others, and while you are "praying always," pray that the Creator will help you find some "good friends." He will do this, as you ask Him, and diligently seek to hear His voice. The following passage from the Bible gives you a promise:
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally,
Get out of your EGO, start praying always and God will give liberally to you, as promised. Learn a little about praying always, see Luke 18:1 & Ephesians.
Matt Moody, Ph.D.
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