Essays on Meaning and Fulfillment

The sine qua non of self-actualization



Personal Metaphor


Personal Metaphor

Seeing the colored stone in that ring on your finger, or perhaps the hammered metal image of the bracelet you’re wearing, do you remind yourself the reason you wear them as often as you do? Certainly it is not only because they go with the clothes you’re wearing today, or because they are simply your favorite pieces of jewelry that were given you by a loved one. What is it you associate with the colors, textures, and shapes before you? And what do you feel when you wear these items with the rest of your outfit? What image and message are you presenting to the world on this day, and are they different or the same from what you usually project? Importantly, is it your social persona or authentic self? But do not let the analysis stop there. What do you use for transportation, public transit, a bicycle, a car you’ve wanted for so long and now can afford? Expand this self-examination to include the foods you regularly eat, the places you frequent, the crowd you socialize with, and the community in which you live.

Most people realize these are all metaphors for themselves, revealing things about them, not spoken but exhibited, and complex as only symbol can be. But not everyone makes conscious choices about them, or consciously recognizes they reflect and determine one’s beliefs, values, and character traits. Many are doing what others do, what others suggest, or what society prescribes, falsely believing they are making their own independent decisions and being themselves. This blinds one to the truth of one’s identity and pulls one away from regularly being one’s genuine self. But if one questions these metaphors while having the intention of making them congruent with one’s true identity then one has set a course for a meaningful life. Some things are kept, others jettisoned until there is congruency between personality and action, leaving one’s authentic character intact and one behaving accordingly.

This results in living life fully every day in one’s unique personal way. And doing so reveals the deeper aspects of one’s self while it strengthens one’s personality; life is blessed with meaning everyday, giving one the feeling there is purpose to being alive. In this way one remains on the leading edge of one’s own life, prepared and able to respond to life’s changes, and to take on new challenges when one’s insights tell one to do so. Life remains fresh as one respects one’s character and accepts one’s history, allowing both to reveal and shape a future as life redesigns itself, ultimately leaving a personal fulfilling legacy of happiness with few regrets and sorrows.