The journey to answering “who am I?” is a long one, potentially a lifelong one. But taking small steps towards getting clarity on who you are is definitely movement in the right direction. In part two of the series: “who am I? reflection about self”, we look at how identity is transient – and why you need to figure out what you’re currently struggling with across all spheres of your life. This will help you see where you are – so you can get clear on where you want to be.
How self-reflection helps you answer the “who am I?” question
To find out who you are, you need to spend some time examining yourself and reflecting on where you’ve been and what kind of identity you’ve formed (whether consciously or unconsciously). This means you need to really get honest with yourself. Examine your strengths, your weaknesses, how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. You need to engage with that person you present yourself to be, as well as the person you are behind closed doors.
Don’t rush and try and fix things that you don’t like. Don’t try and change anything. This step is about getting to know yourself on a deeper level so you can understand where you are.
Who am I? reflecting about self through positive disintegration
I recently came across an article about positive disintegration that links to the concept of who you are and the roles you play. To really grow, you not only need to shed the parts of you that aren’t authentic. When you’re not living in accordance with who you are, when you’re not being authentic or true to your values, you feel a lot of conflict. It might feel like you’re being torn in two.
Then there’s the fear that you’re losing an identity that you’ve held on to (probably for far too long). But this identity probably isn’t even you. You need to embrace your ability to change and become better. Because everything, even your identity, is transient.
Positive disintegration is a concept that stems from reflections about self. It’s about identifying and keeping the mindset and behaviour that serves you – and releasing the behaviours and patterns that hold you back.
When you embrace the mindset and behaviour that aligns with your true self while letting go of everything that prevents you from being your authentic you, you experience life without that internal conflict and lack of fulfilment.
You need to shed the parts of you that aren’t true to you. When you do this, you’ll feel the harmony that comes from being your true self, unfettered by falseness and ego.
Our identities are dynamic
Identity is dynamic. Everything on our planet, from minute atoms to insects, plants, animals or humans, is constantly growing and evolving. We have trillions of cells that are continuously living and dying. We are never what we were, in any given moment. We can accept this fundamental truth, learn from it, and consciously change, evolve, and grow.
I was thinking about waves and the ocean and how each wave is breathtakingly beautiful in the moment that it arises and is just as beautiful as it falls. This concept has given me great peace when thinking about life and death. I read something similar to this in an article about the Vipassana meditation technique that I’ll paraphrase.
We both live and die in every moment. Put another way, we’re like the waves of the ocean. We rise and fall, rise and fall, but the ocean never goes away, nor does it mourn the passing of a wave.
When we see a wave crashing onto the rocks, we are spellbound by its majesty and power. We celebrate its beauty, its journey across the ocean carried by wind and sea, not its passing. We know that it was perfect in its existence – and that it will reform again in an endless cycle of being. Everything on earth is part of one connected cycle of being, like the ocean – and there is no separation other than what we create. Life doesn’t go away, it just changes form, like the constantly moving and forming waters of the ocean.
Who you are in this moment can be different in the next. Moment by moment, thought by thought, decision by decision, we are constantly evolving. Our thoughts, beliefs, and in fact, our entire identity can shift with new thoughts, new beliefs, and new actions. As psychologist Mel Schwartz writes on Psychology Today, we should embrace:
“a flowing sense of self, whereby we are perpetually reframing, reorganizing, rethinking, and reconsidering ourselves.”
So, here’s how to embrace your flow:
Blue-footed Booby Success Formula: An exercise to answer “Who am I?” through self-reflection
- Think about what you’re currently struggling with in your life
- What are you unhappy about?
- Think about what could be better in your life. Look at every sphere of your life, from your mental and emotional space to your physical being.
- How do you perceive yourself? How do others perceive you?
- Write it down! Make a list of comparisons (now vs future). Now reframe your question. Instead of asking “who am I?” try and ask: “how can I get the most out of life?”
- Lastly, consider whether there is any part of you that you can shed to become truer to yourself.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to figure out who you are right away. When we race to the finish, we forget the value of exploration and growth.
Remember to keep your eyes peeled for part 3 of the “who am I?” series, pinpointing your interests. If you missed the first article in the series, read “Who am I? How to answer one of life’s most existential questions” now.
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