We begin life like a seed, small and simple, with a single purpose – to grow. With time, we adapt in order to thrive – adding new layers, making changes in how we engage with the world and with others.

Yet beneath the outer layers of ourselves, there is an original identity that remains – a knowledge of exactly who we are, and exactly where we come from – a sense of calmness and understanding that exists long before we are conscious of it.

The words we speak, the clothes we wear and the actions we take each day are the direct results of how we think the world sees us, or how we wish the world to see us. No matter how strong the expectations of others, we can choose at any time to embrace our original identity and live with the same single purpose we once had – to grow.

This passage from the Five Levels of Attachment (book) is a great way to reignite the original knowledge of self we all possess:

As adults, we still have the ability to play make-believe as we did when we were children – that is we still have the ability to create a mask based on our knowledge of how to engage one another in a particular setting.

But as adults, the mask becomes a way to adapt socially and relate to a group with whom we are interacting, and we have forgotten that it’s just a mask. We think the mask is us!

Simply put, the only expectations we need to follow are the ones we set ourselves.