Who Are You? Forget Labels and Redefine Yourself.
This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project
Week 32: Who Are You? Forget Labels and Redefine Yourself.
“Sincerity is the fulfillment
of our own nature,
and to arrive at it we need
only follow our own true Self.
Sincerity is the beginning
and end of existence;
without it, nothing can endure.
Therefore the mature person
values sincerity above all things.”
Life Lesson: Who Are You?
Who are you? Have you ever really thought about this question? Who are you as a person? I’m not talking about how others define you. I mean, how do you define you? What makes you who you are internally? Sadly, the definition of ourselves’ tends to be defined by external circumstances. For example, you fail a test in school, the definition of yourself becomes, “I’m a failure”. You get married, the definition of yourself becomes, “I’m a wife” or “I’m a husband”. In contrast, if/when you get divorced, you come, “The divorcee”. But it’s not like in the time you were a wife, to the time you were divorced, you suddenly transformed into a new self, right? Or what if you were employed in the morning as a bank teller, but by the end of the day you were laid off. You’re no longer a bank teller, but are you a different person? No, you’re not. These external labels do not define you. Inside your soul, you are so much more than these labels.
How many times have you been introduced to someone and they ask, “So, what do you do?” immediately implying that they want to know what you do for a job. How often do you respond with something other than your job? I’m guessing hardly ever, yet I’m sure most of us do much more than what’s in our job description.
What if, instead of asking, “What do you do?” when you met someone knew, you asked, “So, who are you?” What do you think their response would be? Would they take a minute baffled by your question to reflect on it? Would they simply ignore it and describe their job as if on autopilot, unsure of how to answer such a question? Think about it for a minute; if someone asked you this question, how would you answer it?
Last week, we discussed personal values. This week we’re taking it a step further and discussing our deeper self, -who we are inside, not outside. This is not what society says you are either, but who you feel you are. We’re given labels are entire life (popular girl, jock, bully, rich kid, loser, CEO, stay-at-home-mom, etc.). But we don’t have to adopt those labels as our personal truth. We can refuse those labels as a definition of self, and instead embrace our authentic selves.
Why is it important to let go of these identities? Perhaps you like the label or “wife” or “husband” or “teacher” and truly feel you identify with it. Matthew B. James, Ph.D. of Psychology Today, puts it like this,
“As human beings, we are quick to identify ourselves using our circumstances; how others perceive us, our behaviors, and/or our positions in life. It’s somehow comforting to clothe ourselves in these identities. But none of those are really who we are. And the problem with latching onto these identities is, in addition to limiting our growth, it leaves us lost and confused when they are stripped from us.”
Knowing who you are doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate the many roles you play. It simply means you’re not attached to the label as you’re able to recognize on a deeper level the meaning behind these roles of labels. Further, in the event that one of these labels are stripped from you, you aren’t completely lost as to who you are.
There is a new realm of counseling that is gaining increased attention related to this topic. As individuals reach retirement, they find themselves at a loss for who they are now that they are no longer working and defined by their jobs. Adjusting to such a sudden change can be incredibly difficult for some people and can lead to depression, anxiety, decreased satisfaction in life, and mental health issues.
Back to the lesson…
In today’s reflection, you’ll be asked to write down who you are. It may be difficult to exclude labels, but it’s interesting to reflect on your roles on a deeper level. Do your best to avoid labels that others have given you as well. Below, I’ve listed a few of my answers.
- I’m someone who enjoys psychology, counseling, personal-growth, helping others, and being compassionate
- I’m someone who loves to write and connect with others and I spend time blogging to fulfill that need.
- I’m someone who cares deeply for friends and family and thus, spend time with them often.
- I’m someone who loves learning and so I prioritize reading, being exposed to new things, and traveling the world.
- How do you spend your time each day? Weekday vs. weekend?
- What you do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
- What roles do you play in life? (e.g. teacher, mother, friend, )
- Looking deeper, what do you these roles entail?
- What do these roles mean?
- If you had to describe how you act out these roles, what would that look like?
- If someone asked you, “So, who are you?” How would you response (without using labels).
- If you’re struggling with this exercise, this may help: Imagine your child is being bullied and the kids at school label him/her as “poor kid”. You go on to explain that your child is much more than his/her SES by listing talents and attributes. List those qualities now…
- If you were to pass away, how would you want others to remember you by?
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