Who Am I?
The Path to Self Discovery
It’s startling to see how many of us actually know very little about ourselves. Many people often ask themselves “Who am I?”. A common example is anticipating an upcoming event. It may be something you have always wanted to try and something that you are sure you will enjoy. Yet, once the experience is over we decide that we don’t like it as much as we thought.
Humans are changeable and our likes and dislikes come and go. What about our fundamental personalities? Is that more stable? Some of our characteristics are more consistent over time, for example – whether we are shy or outgoing. These are our traits and they tend to be stable. Despite this, most of us still have many unanswered questions about ourselves…
Do I really love my partner or not? Should I study Architecture or History? Am I gay or am I straight? Am I lazy or am I frightened to move forward? There are so many questions that we ask ourselves on a daily basis that many of us do not have a definitive answer to. Why is this so?
I believe this is partly due to societal conditioning. We are groomed from an early age to be nice, fit in and please others. School continues this grooming and conditioning, teaching us to conform for the greater good. Some of this conditioning is so insidious and long term that we do not even see it as conditioning. We absorb the ideas that are repeated to us over and over again and they become a part of who we are…or at least who we think we are. This will encourage the question: Who am I?
Who am I? Ways to rediscover your true self:
1) Be a critical thinker. This is defined as: “disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence”. DOn’t passively believe what others tell you or what you hear on the news. Decide for yourself. Do extra research and be aware when you do take on other people’s opinions and beliefs as fact.
2) Don’t believe everything in the media. Remember that every story can be twisted for effect. Journalists often add emotion to make a story more gripping rather than reporting the bare facts.
3) Remind yourself that you do not have to do as everyone else does. Check whether it is right for you rather than doing it for the sake of fitting in. Write down a list of your values and keep checking in to make sure that you aren’t going off track. It’s easy to get swayed by the needs of others but make sure you never swing too far away from what is important to you. If you do this, you will lose your identity and feel lost and miserable as a result.
4) Maintain your opinions and let others know what you think. Being passive and going along with the crowd won’t help you to figure out who you really are…apart from the fact that you’re a follower. Self-acceptance comes from being decisive and being okay with your successes and failures.
5) Care less what others think – this includes loved ones and your parents. Pressure to do what others want you to do will come from all sources. Resist this pressure and follow your instincts.
6) Stop trying to please others all of the time. This dilutes your goals and blurs your real purpose. You’ll never top asking “Who am I?” if you are a constant people pleaser – that’s assured.
7) Enjoy time alone. Be by yourself and have quiet time to gather your thoughts and reflect on what is important to you. Family, friends, creative expression, freedom ..adventure? Resist changing to keep others happy – we all do this to an extent but if this behaviour is consistent it is time to pull back and centre yourself.
8) Tune into the child in you. What were your innate talents? What did you love doing as a child? Could you revive any of them? Rediscover childhood passions. You might be surprised at the joy it will bring you.
9) Foster self-belief. Don’t be taken in by those that are good at selling themselves and make you doubt yourself. They may just have the gift of the gab but it does not mean that they know what is truly right for you.
10) Get back to basics. If there was nothing stopping you, what would you be doing? Where would you be? Use the answers as an indication of your true inclinations. You may not be able to live that imagined life fully but you may be able to start the process of incorporating some of the aspects of what you have imagined.
Figuring out who you are is a life long process and it never ends. Make sure you know yourself as well as possible by trying some of the above suggestions. It will help you to feel more centred and confident moving forward. Self-belief comes from staying centred and living a life that is consistent with your values. Thinking and acting according to what is important to you is the best way to feel content and fulfilled.