In a tale of illusion, deception and love, Io was continuously running from the higher powers as a changeling moulded by the God Zeus. We can unveil underlying themes within the myth of Io and Zeus, around living in a constant state of anxiety; running from our past traumas and changing our forms to put on different social masks.

How does this ancient myth relate to our world today?

Most of our actions originate from a subconscious level and are built around our self or ego. Our self or ego is a mental construct of our view of the world and how we view ourselves fitting into such a world. If we do not pause from time to time, stand still and assess our needs and values in a place of calm, then we can be driven by our self or ego and chase success underpinned by a continuous anxious state of being.

This story is underpinned by a form of jealousy over beauty and this results in a continuous state of running, anxiety and hiding from the true self. Just as with our self or ego, we can at times make decisions based around societal norms and our need for our story to fit into other realms. Building our self or ego can have many benefits and it is of course perfectly natural. What we must ensure is that we do take the time to pause, focus on self-compassion and practice mindful thinking to realise when our actions are good for us or not. Are we taking action for our health and happiness? Or are we continuously fuelling a story? It is important for us to make sense of our worldly surroundings and to create our own life story. However, there is a subtle balance between writing our own narrative and pausing to observe the story so far.

If a sports star has a career threatening injury, they will have likely built up a story that they are indeed a ‘top sports star,’ however, that person is so much more. That sports star could be a father or mother, be a creative person and be a kind individual. The build up of such a story of a sports star is important to give that individual the belief they can win and shoot for the stars; however, it is important that the day their career ends, they understand that being a sports star is just one part of their story. Think of an 18-year-old sports star who is offered the world, and then is sadly subjected to a career threatening injury. Think of a business owner whose 20-year flourishing business topples during an economic crisis. If we do not practice observing our story from time to time with mindfulness, we can not only rise, but we can also fall due to the story that we tell ourselves.

As with the story of Io we can all change our form from time to time, but if we change form for the better based on a foundation of self-acceptance, compassion and kindness for ourselves and for others, we can write a much healthier story for ourselves. This is in contrast to moving forward in life fuelled by past and current anxieties and building our narrative on negative foundations and also trying to fit in.

Self-esteem vs self-acceptance

Having high self-esteem is of course healthier than having low self-esteem. The idea of self-acceptance can help us have a healthier balance in life. If we focus too much on self-esteem, we can be at risk of focusing too much on a narrow narrative where challenges around our self or ego can arise. Practicing self-acceptance is the gateway to a harmonious balance; whereby we can have belief in ourselves, yet we also look at the broader picture in life. Self-acceptance can help us to work through anxiety and past traumas in a healthy manner and also not feel the need to wear certain masks in life. In doing so we can become happy and confident and grow each day based on what is healthy for us.

With self-acceptance, the self is not devalued, whereas with self-esteem the self can become devalued. There are a few motivational difference we can draw between the two:

  • self-esteem can view weaknesses as a critical element;
  • self-acceptance is personal growth in relation to our ‘weaknesses’ but in a much healthier way;
  • the need for self-esteem is outcome orientated and is driven by what we view our self should be; it is driven by the fear of not matching our value against our expectations;
  • the need for personal growth is process orientated, and is driven by what the self needs; driven by love of growth as a human being.

A conclusion of thoughts

It is perfectly normal and healthy to create our own personal narrative. Having a sense of meaning within our actions is imperative for our well-being. It is important, however, that we practice self-acceptance and also mindful thinking throughout our life. In doing so, we can learn to see what we need for our best selves as opposed to being driven by subconscious factors. Next time you make a big decision in your life or you struggle to find a place of calm, ask yourself whether your next steps are what is best for you, or are you repeating the myth of Io?

Wishing you health and well-being.