Who am I? – It’s such a simple question.
Yet, most people have great difficulty answering it.
Most people reply to the question who am I? with the labels they have acquired throughout their lifetime.
They primarily identify themselves with the roles they play in relationship to others. They use definitions like: I’m a father. I’m a sister. I’m a mother. I’m John’s friend, I’m an uncle. I’m a wife.
They define themselves in accordance with the role they play in society; i.e. the job or vocation they have; I’m a writer. I’m a barman. I’m a secretary. I’m a fireman.
They describe their current status with phrases like: I’m unemployed. I have a job. I’m a student. I’m a stay at home mum. I’m a struggling artist. I’m successful, I’m poor and so on. They adhere to a cultural group by saying: I’m Italian, I’m British, I’m Arabic, I’m German, I’m Chinese and so on.
They may even go on to explain their environmental backgrounds by saying: I live in London. I live in Paris. I lived in the United States when I was younger. I spent a lot of time in the Middle East. I have travelled to Egypt and Cyprus or wherever. They define what religious or spiritual sect they belong to by saying I’m a Catholic, I’m Jewish, I’m a Muslim, I’m a Buddhist, I’m a spiritualist.
By listing items such as those mentioned above, people are consciously or subconsciously recognising how important these factors are in describing who they are. Yet, they are nothing more than labels.
Aside from these labels, people also use descriptive qualities to define themselves. They list characteristics of their personality like: I’m a happy person. I have a nervous disposition. I’m not assertive enough. I’m introvert. I’m extrovert. I’m very patient. They list physiological aspects of themselves such as: I’m unattractive. I’m overweight. I’m pretty. I’m tall. I’m short. I have long hair. I have green eyes.
They list their behavioural qualities like: I’m organised, I’m unorganised, I’m untidy and so on. They may even add what pleases them like: I enjoy walking. I collect stamps. I go to the beach every weekend. I like the sea. Similarly, they may express what displeases them like I hate the cold. I never go to the beach. I don’t like queuing.
Whatever descriptions and labels are used, they only define a person according to their beliefs about who they think they are.
These beliefs are based on years of accumulated experiences and learning, environmental and societal influences. They come from an accepted understanding of the individuals’ capabilities, limitations, likes and dislikes.
Yet, most of the time, these beliefs are the product of how we think we are or how we think others see us.
(Extracted from: The Power to Heal is Yours - Be your best friend, not your worst enemy - A Practical Guide to Self-Transformation by Venerina Conti)