Do you know who you are?
Stop and do this little exercise!
Take a few seconds and write down who you are. How do you identify yourself?
How most people do it...
Some define themselves as CEOs, farmers, teachers or stay-at-home parents. Some will tell you that they are fathers, mothers, brothers or grandparents. You will hear some people defining themselves based on their failures and impairments. Some people draw worth and security from the relationships they have, the looks or their possessions.
Do you notice a pattern? The truth is that most of us base our identity on our rank, our status, our possessions, our relationships and more often than not, on our failures and labels. And all these can be either taken away from us or limit us.
WHAT you are and HOW you are is not WHO you are
The roles that we play, the actions that we do, the feeling that we have, our religion or political views, the problems that we had and have, the failures that we experienced and the drama that we went through do not define us, can’t describe who we are at the core. Who are you if your job is taken away? If your status will be taken away? If your feelings will be no more? If labels dissolve?
If I identify myself as a good friend, if I lose my friends I am left with nothing. But if I identify myself as helping, authentic, honest, if I were to lose all my friends, I am still helping, genuine, honest because that is something no one can take away from me. That is something I can use to change my life and head towards better days. And in this case, what is true for me is true for everyone. If you identify yourself as a parent, and somehow you lose your children, you lose your identity too. But if you identify yourself as a loving and supportive parent, the love you have to offer and the ability and willingness to be supportive and cheer for others will never be taken away. And let’s say that one suffers from anxiety and one is mute or disable. These are things no one can take away, but still, they are not ways to measure WHO we are. One can be mute, deaf, depressed, have ADHD, but at the same time, one can be ambitious, caring, courageous, etc. “What about failure?” you might ask. “What about traumatic events?”. You are more than any failure you once experienced or any harm someone intended towards yourself. You are more than what a failed exam made you believe about yourself, more than a failed marriage or harsh parents.
WHAT you are and HOW you are is not WHO you are.
And when you will die...
Stay with me and make another imagination exercise. Tomorrow you are going to die. What will it be written on your tombstone and what will your family, friends and colleagues remember about you? Do you want your tombstone only to list the roles you had in life or to list your cherished possessions? In the end, no one cares, and no one will remember what you had or what you were. I want to be remembered as loving, caring, optimistic, courageous, a helping person, hardworking, friendly. How do you want to be remembered? WHO are you at the core?
What good comes from knowing your core identity?
Knowing who you truly are will bring you peace, will empower you. No tragic event, no natural disaster, no loss can take away WHO we are. Knowing who we are will help us avoid identity crises and welcome change with open arms. And because we base our value on elements that do not depend on others and can’t be taken away, we will feel more secure as individuals, and we will be able to adapt faster to anything new. Being more secure and drawing validation from within will make us more composed, will give us confidence, will raise our self-esteem and will give us the ability to interact with those around us in an honest, authentic way.
So… WHO are you?