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How can we tell who others around us really are? Not from their words - they can be practiced or learned to portray something completely different. Maybe their actions will tell you who they really think they are... and maybe those too are practiced to deceive. Actions reflect intent, but not necessarily the content of character. Decisions, choices that every person makes freely are the defining answer to who they think they are. And that is who they will become.
What does this mean? It means to look closely at the choices the people around you are making about themselves; the ones that alter the course of their own lives. It is these choices that will not be covered in misleading words or calculated to have an effect on others. These choices directly affect them.
If you have a good healthy sense of self-worth, you have learned to love yourself. This is more difficult than many may imagine. Our culture teaches us that self-love is wrong. That is misleading. You cannot love anyone else until you have learned to love yourself, wholly and completely. When you are able to embrace your defects, acknowledge the chinks in your armor and all the things you used to hide about yourself from others, and are comfortable with yourself as you are, you have learned to love unconditionally. It is the essential first step to loving anyone or anything.
The choices you make for your own well being from that time forward are those that nurture and protect you, the ones that move your life forward to achieving the things that are important to you as an individual.
When you choose to walk a path that may be more difficult but does not compromise the things that are important to you, your choices say clearly, "I have a plan for my life and intend to follow it to fruition. I believe in who I am and what I am working towards."
When you choose to veer away from your goals to appear to be more acceptable to those around you, those who are more popular or more desirable publicly, your choices say, "I don't think my goals or dreams have value; I will follow someone else to make myself more acceptable to them." In reality, this is a losing game; they don't like you more and they will respect you less.
Making unpopular choices that could cause you to lose friendships because you have chosen to walk away from things you believe to be harmful to yourself or others makes a clear statement that you think you are a person who has a firm foundation; that you know who you really are and exactly where you want to go.
Young adults have a very difficult time walking away from good friends when they choose to get involved in drugs, alcohol or promiscuous behavior. On the surface, these friends seem to be more popular and pretend to be leaders. Making the choice to walk away and not just look away is a clear statement of your intent not to be derailed in your own values or goals. Looking away is an action; it is making a choice to do nothing at all when the right thing to do is to act.
When you encounter adults who exhibit passive-aggressive behavior, who are 'wishy-washy' when answering pertinent questions, you are witnessing the choices of a person who has little sense of self-worth. These people are easily mislead about others and may be effortlessly led into giving up what they said was important to them. Their behavior says "I am afraid of openly being who I am so I will pretend and then get you back later," hence the aggression that follows the passive beginning. Their choices have defined who they really are.
If you pay attention to the decisions others make and accept without question that their choices are a reflection of the path they are walking, you will always know who the people around you really are. Then it is up to you as to where they fit into your life.
Be aware of how important your own choices are; they directly reflect where you are going in your life path. Others will be watching to see who you really think you are; choose wisely!