“From the very moment of birth, humans learn how to imitate others… In a sense, what we become is shaped by whom we imitate.”
It’s funny. I have always thought it a bit arrogant of St. Paul to suggest that his followers “imitate” him. After all, it seems that it would take a pretty heavy dose of “I’ve got my act togetherness” to make such a bold statement. But after further consideration I realize he was merely stating obvious human nature.
We are indeed, as Ilia Delio claims, “shaped by those whom we imitate.” In the case of St. Paul, he “imitated the Christ” and only hoped his followers might do likewise. Of imitation Delio goes on to write, “Babies imitate children, children imitate parents, and parents imitate heroes.”
Be Wary of Whom You Imitate
We are indeed imitators, for better or worse. Too frequently we unwittingly imitate the crap we learned from abusive people and errant peers. And before we know it, we, too, assume characteristics we are not proud of that, over time, almost become “second nature.”
I guess that leaves me with a somewhat uncomfortable conclusion: I am what I have imitated in another, and others, especially the children in my life, are what they have imitated in me. Both conclusions are resolved when I reconsider, “Who are my heroes?” or, “Who do I imitate?”
Make “Imitation” a Conscious Choice
Once again what we come upon here is the matter of “conscious choice.” It is incumbent upon me to choose whom I imitate. Because if I fail to choose someone to imitate I will, by nature, imitate those who impact me most, again, for better or worse.
So why not choose to imitate a person you highly respect or admire?
I once wrote in a workbook exactly how to take on such a task. It goes something like this…
- Think of one person you highly respect or admire. I suggest it be someone you know personally.
- Write one paragraph (4, 5, or 6 sentences) on why you admire this person. And what are the qualities, characteristics, and behaviors you admire in this person?
- Reread your paragraph a couple of times, and then circle those few qualities that strike most deeply in your heart.
Imitators are Imitated
Viola! You have just identified the virtues you most admire. Of course there will be additional virtues because no one human contains ALL the virtues you value, but begin with these. Imitate them. Make them part of your daily conscious personality—the kind of personality you want to exhibit in order to serve others, as well as rub off on them.
In doing so, you will be a most admirable and respected person. Others will imitate you. You will most certainly make a difference on this needy planet. I promise!
Imitate the Best in Others
So Others Can Imitate the Best in You
Photo courtesy of fizkes at istockphoto