This is the question that was addressed at yesterday’s workshop. How often do we ponder who we are? Minute-by-minute? Second-by second? With every significant event in life, we often find ourselves asking, Who am I? I often find that when asking this question, individuals want to know how to change who they are.
When I help clients and students attempt to answer this question, the first thing I tell then is “you are the sum total of all of your interactions up till this moment.” Most of them don’t like this response and press for something more concrete.There isn’t anything more concrete – who you are is directly connected to every interaction you have had and will have.
You don’t make yourself…others make you!
We don’t make ourselves. Almost everything you know about yourself is information that has been delivered by to you by someone other than you. Other people send us messages about who they want us to be, and we either accept or reject the messages. This is the formula of other people making us. In turn, we do the same thing to others – we send messages to them about who we want them to be and they either accept or reject the message…and the cycle continues. This doesn’t mean that you are not responsible for your decisions – YOU ARE, however the labels that you negotiate as you try to figure out who you are – those come from other people. And let me be clear here, those other people are generally significant people in your life. There are basically 3 ways that this (the creation of your self concept) happens:
- We see ourselves the way that other people see us.
- We spend enormous amounts of time comparing ourselves to and measuring ourselves against others.
- We actively run our reflections through the vein of what would (fill in the blank) think.
I am not what I think I am.
I am not what you think I am.
I am what I think you think I am.
-Bleiberg & Leubling
When addressing the question Who am I, examine your attitudes, values, and beliefs. Take a close look at the things you surround yourself with, the values and beliefs that you hold, and most importantly the formal and informal relationships and interactions you have. We support and reinforce the messages that build our self concept through the environment that we build.
“Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are!”
As we grow in our understanding that the messages sent from others play a huge role in the construction of our self concept , we have more opportunities to exercise the power to accept or reject those messages. Who you are shouldn’t be about discovering what the past has hidden, it should be about discovering and realizing your hopes, dreams and goals.
Ask yourself these questions:
What goals and expectations do I have for myself?
What goals and expectations do my significant others have for me?
Which goals and expectations are you working towards?Open Soul Communication Effective Communication for Effective Relationships “98% of Success is Support…I’ve got your back” -DE ©