WHO AM I?
Have you ever asked that question to yourself?
While designing Sujivita Adhyaya, and the activities that we would be doing in this program this powerful question was the first thing that I incorporated in it.
And what I conducted the trial run of the program with to of my close friends, they found it very hard to answer the question.
In fact, this question has intrigued me for a long time time and it makes me ask more questions: Can I ever know who am I? Why do I need to know who am I? Will any of the answers I provide myself ever satisfy me?
This question was first asked to me by a very close friend of mine when we were in a discussion and there was a mention of Ramana Maharishi.
"The Questions 'Who Am I' is not really meant to get an answer, the question is meant to dissolve the questioner"
- Ramana Maharishi
Perplexed? I know, I was too and then I did my research...
So here it is
Who Am I = What is my identity
Our identity is the system of memories, experiences, feeling, thoughts, relationships and values that define who we are.
Our Identity is a reflection of what we believe, what we do and what we value.
Yet, we don't realise but our identity can be compromised by various outside factors.
I hear you saying "How is that possible?"... Well Dr. Heshmat explains here.
“Few people choose their identities. Instead, they simply internalize the values of their parents or the dominant cultures (e.g., pursuit of materialism, power, and appearance). Sadly, these values may not be aligned with one’s authentic self and create unfulfilling life.”
So this is where problems arise...
The painful truth is that much of our identity is forced upon us. And this forced identity creates stress in our lives...
Because deep within we know that this is a false identity. It is something that has been demanded of us and we have been complying to that demand.
The problem is we are not really aware of our true identity. And that is why I ask the questions "Who Am I?"
To make things harder on ourselves, we each have multiple identities – sons, daughters, parents, friends.
Each role, to quote Dr. Heshmat, has “its own meanings and expectations that are internalized as identity.”
So when we perform these roles, we internalize them as if they were our real identities.
“Often, in the face of identity struggle, many end up adopting darker identities, such as drug abuse, compulsive shopper, or gambling, as a compensatory method of experiencing aliveness or staving off depression and meaninglessness.”
So as Dr. Heshmat says, if we struggle to find out who we are it can have grave side effects. This is why I tell my participants that it is quite important to find out "Who I Am?". Because if we don't the alternative could be depression and meaninglessness. (Trust me, I have been there)
SO HOW TO FIGURE OUT "WHO I AM"?
Through research we have been able to narrow down to 5 steps that you can take to help you answer the question "Who Am I?"
These steps are backed by experts and will help find the answer and live a life that is more purposeful, much joyous and much satisfying.
Here are the 5 steps:
Remember the famous Michael Jackson song - "I'm starting with the man in the mirror"
You need to start with reflecting upon yourself whenever you want to engage yourself in self-discovery. Examine yourself for all your strengths, weaknesses, flaws, impressions that you give others and the whole lot.
In a nutshell, critically engage with the reflection you present.
“The first step, perhaps, is to take stock. Who are you? When you buy a house and prepare to live in it, you hire an inspector to list all its faults–as it is, in reality, now, not as you wish it could be. You’ll even pay him for the bad news. You need to know. You need to discover the home’s hidden flaws. You need to know whether they are cosmetic imperfections or structural inadequacies. You need to know because you can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken–and you’re broken. You need an inspector. The internal critic–it could play that role, if you could get it on track; if you and it could cooperate.”
– Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Ask yourself, who are you right now? What are your strengths? Your flaws?
Do you think that “who you are” doesn’t match “who you want to be?”
How does that make you feel?
Identify which areas of your life you are unhappy about. Look at what you think could be better – mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Once you have a good grasp on yourself, then you can move on to step two.
2. Decide who you want to be
Remember improvement is possible... only when you truly want to improve.
So, to improve what you need to do is identify clearly who you want to become.
Who is your ideal person? Is it someone kind, strong, intelligent, brave? Is it a person who isn’t afraid of a challenge?
Whoever this dream person is, define them. Define who you want to become. That’s step two.
3. Make better choices
Make better choices… for yourself.
So Marcia Reynolds a clinical psychologist says:
“Choice means you are free to do or not do something because you decided on your own. To activate conscious choice, you first have to do some work to determine what really matters to you. What strengths are you proud of? What tasks do you most enjoy? What dreams keep haunting you? What would you do if you had no obligations or people to please? Take time to sort through your desires.”
Once you know what you really want and who you want to be you are now equipped to make active, conscious choices that would help you to become better at anything.
So if you see yourself as a lean individual, the active choice you would make is choosing to get out of bed or the couch, lace up your shoes and hit the pavement for a run.
Once you make decisions that are in line with your values and what you want, you’ll start feeling empowered to find out your true identity.
4. Explore your passions
One of the best parts about discovering the answer to “who am I,” is figuring out parts of yourself you never knew about.
And one of the best ways to help discover yourself is to explore your passions.
Remember, when you engage in activities that you are passionate about, you tend to stimulate your creative energies. My marketing & production partners are both avid travellers. For a discussion on our program "Sujivita Adhyaya" we went to Corbett and I could see the kind of creative inputs that I got from them because for 4 hour everyday they were doing what they are passionate about... which is going into the jungle and clicking pictures. Now we are building this in our program also and their creativity is at a new high.
So when you do what you are passionate about it gives you confidence, which helps to positively ground your sense of identity.
I hear some people say... "But I don't know what I am passionate about".
The problem is that when you build your identity based on what the society expects, it is quite natural that you may not know what you are really passionate about. Happened with me... happened with a lot of people I have worked with. And this is OK!
However, I would suggest that you need not go looking for it... instead develop it.
If you don't think you can develop it... listen to "Stop searching for your passion | Terri Trespicio"
“Passion is not a job, a sport or a hobby. It is the full force of your attention and energy that you give to whatever is right in front of you. And if you’re so busy looking for this passion, you could miss opportunities that change your life.”
Developing a growth mindset is a key component of exploring your passions. Along the way, you’ll figure out who you are.
5. Develop your social circle
Humans are social beings by nature. So much of our identity is shaped by our friends and family.
When you work to figure out “who you really are,” you have to actively create your social circle.
This means choosing who you want to hang out with. It means choosing who to let in, and who to cut loose.
it’s crucial you find people who are aligned with your values and identity. Remember the saying "You can judge a man by the company he keeps."
If you want to develop as a person first thing you need to do is look at the group of friends you have... Are they pushing you forward or are they holding you back?
Your identity is an ongoing process
The task of finding out who you are isn’t an easy one.
It’s probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever take on.
One of the worst things you can do (during this process) is to put pressure on yourself to figure it out right away.
Discovering your identity is a journey, not an ending.
When you embrace that your identity is dynamic, you take a lot of pressure off of yourself to pin down exactly who you are. Relax! You’re you. You know what you value, what you like, and what you want to be. You got the basics down! If those change, that’s ok. Start back over from step one.