Who am I and why am I here?
Everybody, at some stage of their lives has to ask themselves these questions. Is there meaning to any of this? And if there is, what the heck is it?? Sorry, I'm not going to answer the great questions of the universe for you, but hopefully, this blog will help you along on the journey of answering these questions for yourself.
Last week's blog asked the question: "who's voice am I listening to?" I guess it implies that we have choices about who we believe we are. Do I choose to listen to the negative voices that tell me that I'm worthless, a failure; and unlovable? Or do I choose to believe that my life has value and meaning? Ultimately, whatever I choose to believe about myself becomes my reality. Our inner beliefs become our external reality. They change the way I look, the way I behave, the way I interpret and experience the world around me. Everything.
My Identity Is Important.
So to find out who I am, I think it is helpful to explore who I am not. (Then at least we can rule all that out!). Have a look at my Singular Focus blogs from a while ago - they might help give you some clues in this process. If you have strong negative beliefs, or if you're finding it hard to be objective about processing through this stuff, it might be a good idea to talk this through with a counsellor (or someone similar). We all have negative beliefs that we've picked up from our childhood. Figure out what they are and how they affect your life (your thoughts, your emotions, your physical body and your behaviour). That way, you get to accept that these beliefs are there - but you now know that you don't have to be controlled by them any more. You can observe them, understand them and move through them. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about fear in a similar way: "Fear has been my friend in the past. Now, it can still come on the journey with me; but it sits in the back seat. It can't touch the steering wheel and it can't change the channel on the radio."
If we have lived our lives being controlled by negative beliefs, changing this can be a bit of a tricky process. Mainly because these beliefs feel very true and real. Although you feel rubbish; feeling rubbish feels normal and comfortable and right. Learning to believe good things about yourself feels alien, unreal and definitely uncomfortable. Sometimes exploring the gap between who I thought I was and who I could be feels like I'm hanging over an abyss. Nothing to hold onto anymore.
Pause. Breathe. Normalize this. Keep going.
There are many theories of how we develop a sense of Identity. Whether you're reading Erik Erikson or Spiral Dynamic's, one thing is clear: It's a process. There are stages. Often we move to a different stage because of a transition of some kind - regularly it's a crisis. As we age and develop we slowly learn more about ourselves and the world around us. We mature.
Wherever you are on your journey of growth and change, there are certain things you can do to help you in this process. Here are some ideas:
- Take time to slow down regularly. Learn how to be quiet. Learn how to still your mind from all the myriad of distractions we have at our disposal.
- Face your pain. Radically accept that what happened - happened. It doesn't make it right or ok - it just is. Grieve your loss. Gently move through it to the other side.
- Learn how to take care of yourself. Find out things that lift your mood and do them regularly . Learn how to listen to your body. Eat well. Sleep well. Rest.
- Make time to play. Do something positive that makes you laugh. Do something adventurous that gets your blood pumping!
- Take time to be creative. Whether it's art or gardening or accounting or business. Allow your creative juices to flow. Be excited!
- Learn to build healthy relationships. Learn to be vulnerable with trustworthy people. Be accountable to someone. Love.
And here are some questions to help you on your journey to identity:
- What am I passionate about?
- What matters most to me?
- When do I feel the most connected?
- When do I feel the most fulfilled?
- What makes me laugh?
- What makes me cry?
- What makes me feel protective?
- Where do I see injustice?
- What do I like creating?
The process of finding out who you are can be a really exciting one!
Remember: Identity isn't necessarily about vocation. E.g.: if I'm passionate about justice I don't have to be a lawyer. I could work at the local pub and still be passionately involved in human rights issues. Remember - all the potential of the mighty Kauri Tree in the picture above is contained in the DNA of a tiny seed. Small isn't bad - it's a beginning. Just do whatever is in front of you!
Warning: Finding out what makes you tick might just ruin you for the ordinary. Once you realize that there is more to life than the quest for material possessions, fame and fortune; life becomes more interesting - but also more challenging.
And wonderful and exhilarating and joyful.
In the words of Alexander Shaia: "The doorway is open - WELCOME!"