Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind, don’t matter and those who matter, don’t mind—Dr Suess
If I asked who are you how would you reply? Would you begin by telling me your name, what you do for a living, where you live and where you’re from? But is that ‘who’ you really are? A name, a job description and where you live? I know you are FAR more than this, but it’s not so easy to put it into words, is it? Let’s explore this a little more, for when you know who you really are, it is easier to see the ‘what’ and ‘where’ of your life path ahead of you.
UNDERSTANDING WHO YOU ARE
No one can tell you ‘who’ you really are, no matter how well they know you. But at the same time they may be able to tell you what they see, for we can be exceedingly blind about our own selves. Ultimately though, knowing the ‘real’ you is something that only you can know. So how do you find out?
In Mike George’s book, The 7 Aha!s of Highly Enlightened Souls, he speaks a lot on who you are. He begins one of his chapters with:
‘You are drop-dead stunningly gorgeous, but you won’t see your beauty in the bathroom mirror! What you see is not you – it’s only your body.’
This is the first thing to begin to understand: who you are is not your body. Who you are resides in your body, and without your body you cannot experience life, but it isn’t who you are.
Who you are is not your thoughts either. We could fly into the cosmos and try and fathom and unravel where and how thoughts originate, but just now, notice there is an essence within that thinks your thoughts. This essence is you.
Authors I respect and admire have different ways of expressing the ‘who’ we are. They call it; soul, spirit, love, divine source or light. We all have a personality, an ego, thoughts and a physical body too. These may not be who we are, but our inner being lights up, animates and influences them none-the-less.
Who are you? How do you find out?
Remember I said that people around you may be able to tell you? Then one starting point is to ask them for some ‘real’ feedback. Sometimes I ask my clients to choose 4 people to ask them for their thoughts. I instruct them to ask their friends/family to describe them as if they were going to tell a total stranger who they are. I suggest it should be a technicolor description of their wonderful traits, values and personality. And also the things that aren’t always so wonderful too. The 4 people should ‘see’ and ‘know’ you through different viewpoints. So I suggest: one family member, one old friend, one new-ish friend and someone from work or your community.
If a friend/family member agrees to do this for you, their insights are incredibly valuable for they allow you to see you as others do. However, it is not uncommon for people to be reluctant to do this, which is sad for their gift of insight can help you a lot. If you ask and get turned down, simply accept that they can’t do this for you and ask someone else instead. You can always tell them your Life Coach has asked you to do this! This just might reassure them it’s OK to do this, for it’s not to be judged; rather it is to be seen. You could also volunteer to do it for them too.
THE ‘WHO AM I?’ EXERCISE
Take a piece of paper and write a title of: ’Who am I?’. Then write, in list format: ‘I am…’ completing the dot-dot-dot with whatever comes to mind. Handwriting, by the way, is better than typing for this: somehow there is more of a connection with your inner self than through a keyboard. Relax and simply write whatever word(s) pop up with each time you write: ‘I am…’. Repeat this 30 or so times. Usually, the first things that come up are your name, gender, role, family connections and so forth. My list might start like this:
I am Jennie
I am a mother
I am a Life Coach
But as you keep repeating ‘I am…’, more and more begins to come up. It truly gets interesting when you get past the obvious. Please don’t edit; simply write it all down. When you have completed 30 (or more) lines, take a moment to see what you have written. Any strange answers will undoubtedly be metaphorical or symbolic. Some examples (from different clients) were that they saw themselves as; a bicycle chained to some railings, a Golden Retriever, a water rat. In these specific cases, the meanings turned out to be: I am stuck—can’t get moving; I am loyal and loving; and I am a survivor and yet the metaphorical images also helped convey even more powerful descriptions than the words alone.
TUNING INTO YOUR INNER SELF
To hear your inner being needs quiet time and reflection. Firstly then, do you give yourself some silence every day? Are you even comfortable with silence? Or do you fill every moment of your life with noise, activity and distraction? Ten years ago I always had the radio on, or played music and jam-packed my life until it was so full I could hardly breathe. There was very little time to spend with myself for it was so full of distractions. I did not know who I was back then, because I had never asked, never listened and perhaps was a afraid of what I might ‘hear’ if I did. If you relate to this, know that yes, it can be challenging, but silence in your outer world helps quieten down the noise inside of you. This quieter inner you reduces stress and overwhelm and helps you see what is important.
The last verse of Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s beautiful poem, ‘The Invitation’ sums this up beautifully:
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
For me, getting comfortable with silence didn’t happen overnight, rather it happened gradually over a long period of time. As I grew more comfortable, I began to hear my voice from the inside. Choosing to sit quietly and listen to your inner self is not an easy task. It far easier not to do it! And yet it is only in silence, in meditation or prayer that you can really discover who you really are.
Some people are afraid of silence–yet it has a beauty and depth to it. If silence is too scary, begin spending time alone in nature where the very rhythms of life will help you ‘see’ and ‘feel’ and ‘know’ who you are too.
Be curious about the ‘who’ you are, and when you see an insight that is true, embrace it. Try not to strive for an answer or for a voice telling you what to do: rather ‘feel’ it and like all of nature, there are waves to this knowing, feeling and seeing.
CHOOSE 3 ‘TRUTHS’ ABOUT WHO YOU ARE
Choose 3 good traits/values that you know you are, at the very core of your being for they are ‘so you’. For these can form the foundation on which to build a picture about who you are. Below are a few ideas to help you think which three are at the core of your being. There are dozens more – so please don’t be limited by this list. Many will resonate, but focus on the traits/values that leap out at you:
ALIGNING YOUR LIFE WITH WHO YOU ARE
Write down your choices down. Look at your choice. Is it right? Play with several combinations until you can write down: ‘I am ‘a‘, ‘b‘ and ‘c’ and know deep down you have nailed it. These 3 traits/values that help describe who you are form the foundation on which you can build a more detailed picture.
Discovering the true depth of who you are is rather like seeing the full extent of an iceberg. The part you (and others) can see is your body and personality that floats on the surface, but the larger part is hidden from view beneath the waves. This is your inner self and the workings of your subconscious. As you become more curious and more aware of who you are, you get to see ‘your’ iceberg from under the sea. This hidden part is where your true beauty lies.
By discovering who you really are enables you to make better choices for the people you invite into your life and those you keep at arms-length. If you find a trait/value that is very strong but your job/career doesn’t support this, then this is unlikely to make you happy and fulfilled. Just discovering this one truth about who you are, can help you move into a job/career that is more suited to you.
I am always interested to hear your thoughts, views and ideas. Get in touch via the comments box below.