One of my favorite writers, Mark Nepo, in his The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have got my attention recently when I read his comments on what we are and are not.
He said, "No matter how we feel in any one moment, we are not just our feelings, our roles, our traumas, our prescription of values, or our obligations or ambitions. It is so easy to define ourselves by the moment of struggle we are wrestling with."
He went on to describe how Michelangelo sculpted: "He would often say that his job was to carve away the excess, freeing the thing of beauty just waiting to be released."
Perhaps that's how we can view ourselves. We definitely are not defined by our roles, our pain, our experiences. And our task may be "freeing the thing of beauty just waiting to be released." Life requires of us to let go of what needs releasing. Let go of old ideas that no longer serve. Let go of resentments and anger. Let go of unforgiven experiences—whether that means forgiving someone else or forgiving yourself. Let go of any excess that hides or detracts from the beauty.
Focus on "the thing of beauty" inside you. Build on that. Let go of all the rest. And get to the heart of who and what you really are!