What defines you? When asked a question what is your reference point of who you are? Are you your job, your status, your age, your country, your roles….. When asked these questions, what is the first thing that comes to you mind…? Does doing define who you are, Are we human beings or human doing? When you meet people the first time, the first question you are asked is ”what do you do?” After the pleasantries of asking your name.
This will be a 3 part series in part one , I will explore the difference between our false and authentic self, part 2 will explore the effect of identifying ourselves with the external things and finally how we can truly know our true selves.
What defines our false self? Job, achievements, status, age, country, ethnicity…. Anything outside ourselves…
Our job: “Without my job I don’t know who I am,” if that is what comes to your mind each time you introduce or think of yourself… your job or so is your reference point of defining yourself…. Example “I am a teacher,” “I’m a lawyer,” “I’m a construction worker,” “I drive a bus,” or “I am in marketing.” we have placed considerable emphasis on defining ourselves—and our personal self-worth—through our work.
This is known as “work-role centrality.” It means that work is central to your sense of who you are. People with high “work role centrality” who lose their jobs suffer more. They are more likely to be depressed and anxious and more likely to feel that there is less purpose in their lives. Their identity and purpose seemed to disappear when they lost their job.
Our age: we assume the labels and use it to make excuses… oh I’m too old to date that person, I’m too young to start this business…. think a lot of people focus on age as something that holds them back. I’m “too old” to go back to school. I’m “too old” to try a new career. I’m “too old” to go to a dance party, do the limbo. Excuses. I love meeting older people who just LIVE life paying no attention to their age. I’ve been 75-year-olds that go to dances, book club, study new subjects. I had an 82-year-old great aunt that point blank asked me, “Why would I ever be bored? There’s so much to do!”
What is your authentic self?
The authentic self is a state of being is the you that can be found at your absolute core. It is the part of you not defined by your job, function or role. It is the composite of all your skills, talents and wisdom, passion. It is all of the things that are uniquely yours and need expression, rather than what you believe you are supposed to be and do.
Your true self reveals itself whenever your actions are natural expression of what you really think and feel… this is a contrast to those behaviours that are motivated by social pressures or socially conditioned roles or script. Few people consistently function as their true self… social pressure to conform and other realities of modern life are true forces to overcome if you want to become your most natural self…
How do you define your authentic self?
(1)Values: Find your values. These are the things that matter most to you on the deepest levels. What are your personal values and standards? What are your priorities and your beliefs? Do you understand why these things are important to you? What level of commitment are you willing to make to your personal standards and ethics? How true do you want to be to your true self?
(2) Understand your strengths: What natural abilities do you possess and which ones do you want to cultivate and develop? The strengths you have and those you develop are your personal assets. They give you a unique position in life and you need to be aware of them. This includes your emotional strengths and your ability to express love and appreciation.
(3)Know your passions: What are you passionate about? What is it that gets you excited or demands your undivided attention? What activities and pursuits make you feel really alive? You can’t build your life around your passions if you haven’t figured out what they are. Making sure that your passions align with your values and standards is vital when trying to create internal harmony.
(4) Creative power/ Your Talents: Your creative powers are those generating ideas and solutions you develop. What are you talents, what is it you love doing, that even if you don’t get paid for the rest of your life, you are still very happy with it.
(5) Wisdom… your wisdom.. what wise things have we acquired over time or is deep within us that when faced with decisions, situations, questions, out of nowhere we are able to provide answers that’s comes from within,,,, deep philosophical answers..
like compassion, ability to see the big picture, to put things in perspective, to see things from many points of view, to be able to reflect on and rise above one’s own perspective. Wisdom is different from intelligence. Intelligence seeks knowledge and seeks to eliminate ambiguity. Wisdom on the other hand, resists automatic thinking, seeks to understand ambiguity better, to grasp the deeper meaning of what is known and to understand the limits of knowledge.
(6) Love: unconditionally love ourselves.. We should also be able to love and accept people for who they are, no judgement. “(Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”.. Whitney Houston the song) Stop constantly compensate for who you are with apologies, hedging words, or clarifications for your actions, like you always owe other people explanations. Beat yourself up when you make even the slightest mistake. Think about your flaws and feel overwhelming disgust or anger. Repeatedly do self-destructive things, or make choices that show you don’t respect or value yourself
(7) Our unique self… the part that is you, no fake copy of anybody, no pretences, when you are feeling sad, happy, joyful etc., the feeling thoughts wishes skills belong to you and has your own signature on it…. Like dancing…
We’ve all got our own individual appearances – height, weight, body shape, eye colour, hair colour etc. We’ve all got our own values, emotions, strengths and weaknesses. We’ve all got our own gifts. We’ve all got our own challenges, life experiences, roads to travel and purpose. We’ve all got our own reason to be on this planet. We’ve all got our own unique soul.
So why do we try so damn hard to be something else?
Why do we dye our hair? Why do we hide our emotions? Why do we change ourselves to please others? Why do we try and copy what others are doing? Why do we fight so hard against a path that has been chosen for us? Why do we waste our time in jobs we hate? Why are we not proud of our gifts?
Finding your true self, as your ultimate identity, enables you to develop and direct your personality (your interface with the world) so that you can be more yourself and live your full potential and true life purpose. By connecting you with your most fundamental state of being, which transcends the narrow identity of your false -self, your true self also enables you to experience being more at one with life itself, and thus being more connected with others and the planet. Finding your true self is therefore essential for any meaningful self-development, as well as for authentic living in general.
In part 2 of this series I will discuss the effects for not living an authentic life….