Where do you start looking for yourself?
Who we are or what we are is a question that people usually ask themselves sometime or another and especially at times when they feel lost, stuck or unhappy. I often wonder if the people who don’t ask those questions are happier (or just more accepting of life playing them) rather than them paying at life.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have lots of perspectives and lots of tools that help us ponder this who am I question in a way that can be constructive and liberating. In addition, I have spent a long time exploring that question and have found some of the answers I found to be fascinating and helpful in my own journey to free myself from myself.
Below is a simple mind map I drew to try and capture the bigger picture because sometimes we try to narrow down who we are – when, in fact, we are complex and multi-faceted.
So, what do you think? Which part of you – is you? Which aspects of yourself are happy and which are unfulfilled?
What parts of your life are you not even considering? What forms your identity? Do you have an identity? Do you know who you are?
Where does your sense of self reside?
And this is just the simple view of who we are, there are many many more perspectives that can be explored.
Who is asking the question – who am I?
Let’s just start by saying I don’t have the answers, but I think about it a lot! To me, the main candidates are;
- Who am I? My conscious and rational thinking mind?
- Who am I? My unconscious ego mind?
- Who am I? My beliefs and values (given to me by society)?
- Who am I? My fears and concerns?
- Who am I? My body?
- Who am I? The sum of all the parts?
Personally, I like to imagine that it doesn’t matter who is asking (who am I), as long as all aspects of myself have been explored, observed and listened too. For example; if I get a headache or feel a little restless and I don’t know why, I spend a little time exploring what is happening in my life and how all the differing aspects of me would respond to it. Even as I am writing this a little voice in my head said “This is not a very good article because you don’t have any answers!” Which part of me was that? Probably my ‘fear of failure’ self or my ‘what will they think of me?’ self – any how, these days, I just smile at these sub-conscious little characters and gently just do what I think is best for the whole of me. Let’s be honest, if we listened to all the fearful stories in our minds we wouldn’t do anything!
So, I think who I am is the combination of a thinking mind and an emotional mind that occupy a body. I like to think that I am my mind(s) and I have a body, and that body obediently (usually) responds to those minds – therefore I have to be very careful about what I think, how I think and how I manage my emotions, desires and intentions. Another way to look at is; we never say I am a body, we say I have a body – we (the minds, beliefs, desires, fears and emotions) have a body that we somehow occupy and often can’t control so we feel a little detached from it, rather like we were the driver of the body like a chauffeur, we drive it but it doesn’t feel like we are it.
We often feel detached from ourselves
So, I feel the first obstacle to be leapt over (on this journey) is separating the mind from the body and then rejoining them from a new perspective where the mind is responsible for the body, in addition, I think the body needs to be seen from a wider perspective too, because it has an inside and an outside – and both are vital to our survival, we need air, light, food and water as much as we need our internal organs! Yet, we don’t seem to think of air or water as ‘me’ – perhaps, that why some people feel detached from nature whilst others are feel deeply connected to nature?
I believe that context is another important thing to consider whilst exploring who we are; who I am as a father or a son or a partner all have differing functions, and although my values don’t alter, my behaviours may – and those behaviours need to be flexible enough to enable me to ‘ride’ whatever life throws at me and courageous enough to fulfil my dreams and desires?
Personally, who I think I am is…
The most incredible experience of being able to be aware that I am more than just a body, that I am a modifiable and transient awareness (of self and others) that can be influenced by perspective and can learn, I can (consciously and unconsciously) generate emotions and feelings that motivate me towards things that are good for me and steer me away from things that don’t serve me well (if I am listening). I am the energy that is the essence of my existence, and that essence has an identity that is very customisable and intelligent, as well as, naive and gullible – who I am is the sum of who I was told I was and the experiences of my life, and these too are only points of view which can be updated, altered and let go of.
Who I am is less and less worried about what other people’s ‘who am I’s’ are thinking, it is becoming less judgemental, less critical and more self-loving and accepting. Who I am is slowly becoming the observer of life rather than the attempted controller of life. Who I am is letting go of rules and agreements and just following his heart.
Who I am can take myself seriously or it can play at life, who I am can cling to positionalities or it can go with the flow – who I am is the balanced acceptance of all of the parts of me that uses logic when it is appropriate and emotions when they are appropriate. Who I am is open to letting go and not knowing what will happen next, who I am is love and who I am is connected to something greater, whatever that might be.
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