It seems cliché to say the most important question you will ever ask yourself is “Who am I?” It is the question that has led to a thousand self help books yet do we ever have the courage to sit naked in the truth of our identity?
Often it is easier to create an illusion of who we are based on what we perceive others want to see or it may be more comfortable to refuse to acknowledge the parts of our soul that cause us to feel guilt shame or embarrassment. Rarely do we stand in our naked in our truth without the protection of all the beliefs lies and illusions we have over the years clothed ourselves in. Who am I?
A question often made out to be a complexity of intricate details yet in the moment in its raw state who am I is as simple as I am. My likes my dislikes are simple statements of desires. I like red I like apples I like walks on the beach. My personality reads like a grade two book I am sometimes grumpy often stubborn always curious. I am… I am someone who does not always listen to others opinions I am someone who is compassionate…I am.
This does not appear to be a complex formula of cosmic proportions but a simply letting out of long held truths. I am…..And you will notice I am brings me into the moment what is true for me right now. Why is it necessary to analyze dissect and create manifestos on the complexity of who I am? Is the simplicity of your soul too hard to bare? Start with the line I am…then write without thought without a map of how it is meant to be I am someone who….it is not complicated you either like red or you don’t you either are stubborn or you are not you either want to write the worlds best selling novel or you don’t
To create an authentic life you have to have a authentic picture of who you are and what you like do not like want do not want. If you have a foundation of illusions then you will only create a mirage that disappears every time you reach for it.
WHAT DO I SEE WHAT DO I FEEL?
What do I see? A question tied into how I perceive myself. When I look into the mirror I see someone old someone with wrinkles someone tired someone who cannot achieve. When I look at my Mother I see disapproval disappointment I don’t see love. When I look at my sisters I see achievements distance disapproval I don’t see pride. When I look at my work colleagues I see distance I see mocking I see laughter directed at me. When I look at the world I see pain I see anger I see danger I see ugly. Make your own list start with looking in the mirror then when you have gone down through all the other items go back to the first one. Are you seeing yourself through the eyes of those around you and is that determining how you see your world?
How do I feel? When I am with my family I feel left out not important enough. When I am with my work colleagues I feel inferior I feel like they are waiting for me to screw up. When I am with strangers I feel like they are looking at me judging me. When I am doing something I feel like it won’t turn out so I might as well not try. Make your own list then compare with the answers to the question what do I see and who am I is there a pattern beginning to develop?
Who I am naked standing in my truth is a person who sees the worst in others and in all situations. Who I am is a person who feels abandoned betrayed and lost. Who I am is a person who feels inadequate inferior incapable of anything. Who I am is a person who feels life is out to get me and nothing good will ever happen to me.
Try it without thought without trying to be intellectual knowledgeable or trying to say the ‘Right thing’. Simply start with the sentence I am a person who feels or I am a person who sees. Let the words come uncensored doesn’t matter if it makes no sense start with that simple phrase I am and see what comes.
When you look back you are going to see connections things being repeated words coming up over and over again. These will be your key words. They will tell you more about yourself than you will probably ever want to know.
So now you have these long lists I am such and such I see such and such I feel such and such. I want you to read out loud each statement sit with it and allow yourself to feel the emotions when you do.
Then next to each statement write in a colored pen if you can the feeling that arose. Did you feel your chest tighten did you feel your throat go dry did you feel sad happy angry frustrated. Again the objective is to leave your ego self out of the conversation and simply be in the moment acknowledging your truth.
WHERE DID I COME FROM?
Every child asks this question at some stage “Where did I come from?” and we hand over a biological explanation enough to satisfy curiosity but have you ever asked yourself that question as an adult? Where did my “I” come from? Babies are not born angry sad frustrated or disappointed at the world they are not born feeling like a failure they are born in unconditional love grace and greatness.
So where did my “I” come from? Did it come from my life experiences did it come from my family my friends my peers did it come from books movies the media where did this mysterious “I” come from? By now you have a long ‘I am’ list look at it and in colored pen next to each line try and trace the origin of each sentence. I am a person who feels inadequate….change it to when I am blank I feel inadequate for example when I am around my Father I feel inadequate…then add because…..because he is always telling me I am stupid.
So where did my thinking I was inadequate come from maybe being told by my father I was stupid. Try this exercise close your eyes bring to mind one of your key words think of a situation where this word was involved. For example I felt inadequate when I did not get the job. Then ask yourself where did that judgment come from? Allow yourself to feel the shame and ask when I have I felt this before where did the feeling come from? There may be a dozen reasons why you did not get the job and none of them would have anything to do with who you are as a person your core truth. But there is a judgment there an emotion a reaction to a situation and it is coming from somewhere.
So close your eyes ask yourself where did this come from. Often we become our experiences our beliefs our assumptions. People who are abused in some way often define themselves by their experiences and come up with “I am dirty” or “I am Unlovable “or “I am a victim”. Not true that may be how you felt but that is not your core truth. Have you seen people lean over babies and go you have your Mothers blue eyes or your fathers brown hair? If I were to lean over you and go you have your Father’s anger or you are high strung like your Mother it would feel like an attack but that is exactly what you have to do to get to your core truth. Ask yourself where did “I “come from?
How many times do you hear the phrase “life is not as simple as that” or “it is easy enough to have all these theories about self but they don’t fly in the real world”. Life is simple it is. Life flows from one moment to the next how we fit into those moments may however be where the complexity comes into it. Humans have an enormous capacity to take something simple and turn into something complicated. We do it in arguments we do it with our life our experiences we cannot seem to accept that some things simply are and need not be anything more. Instead of being clear and to the point with our spouse we will be bring up topics which have no relevance to what we truly want or desire.
Eventually our truth will come out usually in therapy and then we wonder why we did not simply speak our truth at the beginning? What would happen if you stripped yourself back to the basics back to the truth as it is for you in the moment? Your job sucks you hate it that is a simple truth but why then complicate it with I will be here for the rest of my life no point fighting it or I am too old to find work else where or I cannot afford to lose this job. Notice that we have come back to the “I” and your definition of who you are. I hate my job is simple….in this moment I hate my job.
There is no need to add to it no need to complicate it you know what your truth is the next question in the next moment should be what do I do now? A child will give simple direct answers when asked about how they feel “I am hungry I am angry I am sad I did not get that toy” An Adult on the other hand may go I am hungry its all that stupid restaurants fault now I guess I will have to just have a sandwich or I am angry that stupid restaurant got our booking wrong now my whole night is ruined or I really wanted that dirt bike but I don’t want to put up with my wife’s nagging.
Bottom line in the moment you were angry hungry and sad that is your truth and when you own it you can go “So what do I do next” We have explored who we are the raw version stripped back to the bare bones. This person is unconditional love grace and greatness. When you say “I am” there is no need for anything more. You can let go of that moment and move onto the next. But if you go I am because you are they are it should have you are trapped in the moment unable to move forward. Next time you are surrounded by thoughts words and drowning in assumptions expectations and beliefs. Strip back to the core truth of the moment and say “I am”.
Breathe in let it go. It is a simple fact that when you hold onto something and are unwilling to let go a number of things occur. Firstly it may prevent you from moving forward you could end up stuck where you are. Secondly you might end up dragging what ever you are holding onto with you wherever you go creating an extra burden which will drain your energy. Either way it doesn’t seem to be a very productive thing to do.
Maybe you cannot let it go maybe you have too much invested in what ever you are holding onto maybe you have used this thing to define who you are and letting it go scares you. When we do not have the faith to let go we do not have the tools to move forward. Imagine resenting your parent holding onto the anger wondering why you didn’t get the perfect parent every one else had. Now there may be a number of scenarios here. Firstly you may hold on so tight that you never shift from the past you remain that little hurt girl all your life. Secondly you may have let go enough that you drag that baggage wherever you go always blaming your parents for not being enough then looking for ways to validate how their actions have created your life. Thirdly you may decide you should get someone else to help you….you may say here hold this for a while and take your anger out on a partner.
Let it go…nothing in this life is permanent nothing lasts forever it is true you cant take it with you when you go. So why would you drag it up to the train station knowing they aren’t going to let you board with it? In the final moment you will discover its true what they say you can’t take it with you when you go and when you let go you depart the physical world into the next world with only the core truth of your existence. You do not take anger with you resentment with you and when you go no one left behind is going to pick up what you were holding onto except perhaps your children.
Let it go…move onto the next moment. We have talked about how we complicate our lives we have talked about how we use our experiences to define who we are and now we are letting go of our attachment to all those things we are going back to the “I am” letting go being in the moment free from the strings of the past free from the pull of the future.
Letting go is easy…it is the step before letting go we find the hardest. The one where we have to trust we have to believe in ourselves we have to let go of any crutches we may have had to help us. Maybe you cannot let go right now that’s okay maybe you have to take some baby steps and practice loosening your grip.
But if you can let go take a breathe trust and let go and remember letting go is not the same as giving up in fact letting go is giving in and surrendering to life.
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