Who am I? Where do I belong? Which are the places I can claim for myself in this world. Places where I can shine, uninterrupted. Places where I can breathe and truly be myself. Who am I?
The quest to discover oneself is the oldest quest in our history. Everyone has been on that journey, from our forefathers to us.
Truth is, we are beings in constant evolution. From the cells within our bodies to the core of our personalities. Defining oneself often result in constraining ourselves within the bounds of a period in time.
One of mankind biggest misconception is to believe that we are bound by time and space. Moreover, that we are bound by our past, by our environment and by our reputation.
However, we are not defined by our experiences, they are just things we go through. Free of us to hold onto pieces of them and free of us to let go and evolve at any given points.
We are energies. An energy cannot be bound. It is free to expand, settle or evolve.
As human beings, we should know that we do not have a story defining us. We have many stories. Humanity is one, as if one thing happens to a brother thousands of miles away, it can, in a matter of hours happen to each of us, wherever we are in this world.
Hence, we are unbounded being and yet interconnected with all other beings.
Who am I? I am a slave to my creator and a sister for all my brothers. Is it enough defining of me?
DEFINING OUR IDENTITY
According to experts, our identities are defined through two spectrums, and it is only the sum of these two spectrums that leads to an accurate definition of it.
Your identity is the sum of your beliefs pertaining to who you are and what society qualify you as.
In brief, your true self is the version of you that you know and the version of you that we see.
I appreciate this theory a lot because it gives us perspective. We are more than what we think we are, and we are more than what they think we are.
It also shatters our preconceived notion that we are a limited definition of a being.
What is the version of you, you know?
Are we truly self-aware?
Additionally, there is a theory that we are a different version of ourselves in the mind of every single human we interacted with. While the previous definition is related to our social identity and our social identification; this theory gives us a deeper scope of the ever-changing notion of identity.
Did I get you confuse yet? It was intended. Through these universal truths I wanted to show you how your identity, while it entirely shapes you and ground you in this world, it is also a concept that we can’t fully bind. No matter who you think you are, you will always be seen as something else through someone’s mind. The faster you accept it, the faster you can move on and become your true self or whatever that means for you.
We are the fruit of our environment. From the moment we are born to the moment we die; we soak in everything around us. We become interdependent with societies we live in.
The people around us influence our social identities and the way we feel about ourselves. Our social identity is how we perceive our various roles in society in relations to others. It could be through our social position, culture, ethnicity, interests, achievements, or beliefs. We derive a sense of pride and self-worth from it.
More so, it allows us to gain a sense of belonging and to shape our self-image. Often, we tend to see grown adults hopelessly seeking attention and validation. In the age of social media this type of behavior becomes more frequent.
What they really crave is the need to belong. The need to be identified with. To be relatable, to be seen, to exist.
What I find unfortunate, is that growing up a lot of us lacked the emotional fulfillment needed to fully develop our identity.
For most of us, growing, instead of being given the tools to identify ourselves, we instead were told who we were.
A sad young boy would hear from his adult: “Do not cry, men do not cry.” Hence, he will live his whole life disconnecting from his emotions, only displaying “manly” attributes which often translate into full blown anger or simple frustrations.
A beautiful person of color would hear: “Oh you are not like the others; you are actually beautiful for a ____”
A passionate person of color would hear: “why are you people so obnoxious?”
And it goes on and on, many people will find themselves trapped in labels and boxes that fit one aspect of their identity, appropriating it and forgetting that while labels are social construct, your identity is not.
I am not here to tell you how to define yourself, but I want you to have all the necessary tools to do so without deeming your own light nor appropriating an identity that do not suit you.
In order to accomplish this as an adult, you need to work on your self-awareness. Self-awareness is mankind greatest ability, it enables us to focus on ourselves, and determinate how our actions and feelings aligns with our inner standards or our environment. It is the greatest tool to help you reach your higher self and navigate the world peacefully.
It is something that requires practice and adaptability. It also requires a great length of humility, but it is definitely something you can cultivate at any given moment of your life.
Self-awareness was first defined by Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund (1972), they noted that “When we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior to our internal standards and values. We become self-conscious as objectives evaluators of ourselves.”
Basically, cultivating your self-awareness enables you to dissociate your inner standards of correctness or core values from your environments. Remember earlier when I said that we are the fruits of our environments?
Well, this is the area within us in which self-awareness becomes a necessary tool.
According to Tasha Eurish, a researcher and organizational psychologist, there is two categories of self-awareness: internal self-awareness and external self-awareness.
Internal self-awareness is how clearly you see your values, passions, and aspirations, and how well those standards fit with your environment and your reactions (which include thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses)
External self-awareness, on the other hand is the ability to clearly see how other people view you.
In conclusion, mastering your self-awareness will help you not only define your identity but also; It will provide you with the necessary tools to properly evolve by making the necessary adjustments within yourself and within your environment in order to always be the best version of yourself at all times.
RECONNECTING WITH YOUR INNER CHILD & NAVIGATING OUR ENVIRONMENT (FAMILY, SIGNIFICANT OTHER & FRIENDS)
We all carry diverse forms of traumas that we pour onto each other. Many of us carry these
traumas from childhood. A trauma or traumatic event is an incident that causes physical,
emotional, spiritual, or psychological harm. The person experiencing the distressing event
may feel physically threatened or extremely frightened as a result. In a sense, the person will enter a "survival mode" state of mind until he heals or find way to cope with the trauma.
To be honest, almost everything that happened in our lives, our core being and our response to every situation we face, stems from our childhood.
I will share an extract of the book : " The four agreement" , by Don Miguel Ruiz to better illustrate the idea I am trying to convey :
" I call this process the domestication of humans. And through this domestication we learn how to live and how to dream. (...) Children are domesticated the same way that we domesticate a dog, a cat, or any other animal. In order to teach a dog we punish the dog and we give it rewards. we train our children whom we love so much the same way that we train any domesticated animal : with a system of punishment and reward. We are tied, "you're a good boy" or " you're a good girl", when we do what Mom and Dad want us to do. When we don't, we are "a bad girl" or a "bad boy". When we went against the rules we were punished; when we went along with the rules we got a reward. We were punished many times a day, and we were also rewarded many times a day. Soon we became afraid of being punished and also afraid of not receiving the reward. The reward is the attention that we got from our parents or from other people like siblings, teachers, and friends. We soon develop a need to hook other people's attention in order to get the reward. (...) we start pretending to be what we are not, just to please others, just to be good enough for someone else."
Effectively, being the fruit of our environment, we become programmed as soon as we are born into this world. Our identity is being given to us way before we "become".
In the case of children whom suffered from difficult childhood, during the process of having their identity shaped, they also suffer traumas affecting their core identity and altering their perceptions of the world. In many instance, these are the adults we see struggling with building their self awareness.
To all those, I would speak on the importance of self reflection. Reflection is important, everyone should take time to reflect. Grown adults tend to live their lives through patterns, but most of these patterns have a beginning and can have an end.
Most of these patterns are inherited, self reflection allows us to dive into ourselves, examine these patterns and reflect on their sources. Am I the way I am because I chose to become this way? or have I been told this way was the right way? do I feel good about myself living my life according to this pattern ? is there anything I can do about it? is there anything I wish I could do about it? is there anything I want to do about it?
What I personally learned from an early age is this :
" In order to build, you need to destruct."
Long story short, if applied to this case, in order to build a strong sense of self awareness, you need first to integrate new ways of thinking into your minds. In order to integrate these new ways of thinking, you need to first get rid of the old ways, by assessing them, healing from what need to be healed from and getting rid of everything else.
There are many examples of situation when you can perceive a need to re-assess your old way of thinking, let me share with you a personal issue I was facing and how I processed it :
I recently faced situations were I noticed some people would really withhold their compliments to me because they loath that I validate their compliments instead of just thanking them for it. It is quite fascinating people feeling irritated that you know your worth and do not rely on their compliments to be able to observe it.
" You are intelligent ", " yes, I know I am because I work really hard daily to enhance my knowledges" , " you are beautiful" " yes I know I am because I worked really hard on my presentation today" If you perceive my responses as an over-confidence, is it really me that is over-confident or you that is insecure because my responses clearly mirror your compliments? My point is you are free to believe whatever you want, and use your words in the way that best echo your perception of the world. But please, do not come into my perception and aim to be the main character of it. However, if you do intend to be a main character in everyone's life. Their source of happiness, the reason why they realize their worth, please make sure you do the necessary inner work to understand that, a compliment is just the sharing of an unwanted opinion. yours. it does not require to be taken in. A compliment for you could be an insult for someone else. You could meet people dwelling in their lower selves in need of reassurance and choose to make your opinion known so they could reassess themselves and see the beauty you see in them or you could meet people dwelling in their higher self ( self aware), that choose to validate your opinion.
Either way, you share an unasked for opinion taken into consideration by the recipient. Hence, withholding compliments because you do not like how the other person respond to them. is just dumb and mean. At best, you saved someone from entertaining your ego, at worst you withhold a chance to make someone's effort feel noticed.
I can not stress enough the importance of self awareness. Being self aware is the ability to navigate into this world knowing that our freedom start where another's freedom begins. it is knowing that the only thing we can truly control in this world is ourselves through our mind, everything else we do not possess any ownership of. Even our own mind we can never fully master the control of.
Being self aware is understanding the mode of functioning of our ego, the hardest battle we will ever face in this life is and will always be the fight against our ego. Once you will understand this, your lives will instantly become easier ( mostly less frustrating).
"From the perspective of many modern psychologists, “the ego” can be thought of as the culmination of three components of the human psyche: the view an individual holds of themselves (self-image), how much value is placed on themselves (self-esteem), and the many beliefs, ideologies and affiliations that an individual holds (self-identity). This sense of self helps us to classify and quantify our reality, and can affect our thoughts both in the moment and in memory. Therefore, the ego may serve as a gatekeeper of consciousness, admitting into awareness only those thoughts that conform to our self-image."
_ Jeff Lebowe " Ego death"
The easiest way I could explain how to master it, is through religion. According to religion, the original sin, is Iblis' sin of arrogance. When God, created Adam and asked His creation to bow down to him, Iblis' ego would not allow it. Through this story and the whole of the Holy books, you learn how necessary it is to avert your ego from dominating your mind.
If not a religious person, another way to learn how to master your own ego is through an introspection ( self-reflection).
You could then realize that most of the conflicts you've had within yourself and with people have for root the ego (the pride). When you realize that your ego is your best ally and you fiercest opponent, you start to perceive how strongly it affects your lives. You learn how to control it because you know when it is triggered and when you need to sit on it. You could easily perceive the influence of egos in people's words that they are directed to you or to others and can easily avoid being afflicted by it.
HOW TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES
Extract from " The fourth agreement ", Don Miguel Cruz :
" The four agreements
1. Be impeccable with your word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use your power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don't take anything personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don't make assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always do your best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self- abuse and regret. "
THE CONCEPT OF IT IS WHAT IT IS
According to Urban Dictonary, " It is what it is" is a phrase used to describe a situation that is less than ideal that you can not change. It is what it is and all we can do is accept it and carry on.