Let me invite you to take yourself a minute or two and write down or at least think about who you are. How would you describe yourself? Who are you? Then come back to this article.
Look at everything you wrote down (or thought about) and look for attributes you identify with, that are only temporary. For example, if you wrote down the color of your hair or your job or anything that is subject to change. Cross off all these attributes. Most people introducing themselves include many of those attributes which are just temporary. Who you really are, the core of who you are, is a constant. The first time I asked myself this question and trying to eliminate everything temporary and superficial, I found it quite challenging to describe myself. I was so used to introduce myself a certain way, that I had a hard time to freely describe myself in a different way. Even though no one would hear what I was saying, this task made me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Because I recognized that there are things I normally don’t tell everyone, when I introduce myself. There are parts of me that are definitely who I am, but I don’t talk about them a lot.
My rising sign is Virgo. And this part of me loves to work with systems and logic. So I decided to describe myself from the outside to the inside. I categorized the attributes I would describe myself with into tangible/dense and intangible/subtle. The following examples show are in the order most tangible to least tangible
1.Here is what I learned about knowing who we truly are and its importance which I massively underestimated
As I started to describe myself from the outside, I very quickly understood that my entire physical form was subject to change. The body changes over time. We can dye our hair. We can wear contacts with different eye colors. We can gain and lose weight. Our skin gets looser over time with age. We can be tanned or totally pale, depending on how much time we spend outside in the sun (or the solarium). And due to plastic surgery, we can give ourselves a completely different look.
I struggled with overweight in fourth grade for a couple of years until I grew tall and therefore became very skinny. During my teens my body adjusted and got balanced. I started working out a lot and gained muscles and got more ripped. Let’s say I have been through most ways a body can look like. Which showed me that during all those changes, part of me was always there, no matter what I looked like. I am not a different person depending on how my body looks like. I am not just what I see in the mirror or what other people see when they look at me. And so are you. Our looks are an aspect of who we are, not who we are.
2. We are not our job
One of the first things most people say when they introduce themselves is what they do for work. Also when other people try to describe other people they often say something like “Oh don’t you know, she is this famous singer and actress. Her partner is one of the best-known lawyers.” – or something like this. Does this statement tell you anything about who those two people are? A little, yes. But not who they truly are, am I right?
I used to lead a fashion company. When we decided to shut it down, which first felt like a relief and a very good decision, after a week I got really nervous and asked myself what I wanted to do next. I didn’t want to go back into the fashion industry and I really didn’t wanted to go in any other company. I wanted to do something else. By the time I just didn’t know what that was yet and it made me question what that says about me, not knowing what comes next. When I then became a personal trainer and yoga teacher, working with people one on one, I was super happy. But when I introduced myself as a personal trainer and yoga teacher, I encountered many people who gave me a very pitying look. Even friends. Which irritated me because I used to get rather impressed reactions when I used to tell them I would lead a fashion company. Which led me to the conclusion that I was more than my job, that I am more than my job. No matter what I did, there was something that didn’t change. The way people perceived me changed, depending on what job I had but the core of who I was didn’t change.
3. We are not our skills
Similar to identifying with our job, is identifying with what we are good at or not good at, our strengths and weaknesses. “This is my sister, she is such a good surfer” or “This is my friend Alex, he is a phenomenal speaker.” – again, does this tell us who those people truly are? No. But we often strongly identify with our skill and with what we are good at. It becomes our trademark, it becomes who we are. Even the things we aren’t good at become a part of who we are. I used to belief I was really bad at math. Until I started to study and all of a sudden, I was unbelievably good at it. But before that, I would always tell people how bad my math skills were. Whenever I was talking about opening my own business in the future or when we were teaming up for a project or whatever the case, I would be the one that wasn’t good with numbers and didn’t want anything to do with it. But whether I wasn’t good at math or whether I was, it didn’t change me. We all have strengths and weaknesses. They are part of us. They don’t define us.
4. We are not our emotions and not who we think we are
Did you ever say anything along the lines of “I am so depressed/anxious”? Emotions, just like our physical appearance are just temporary. Emotions come and go. Even if they stay for a longer time, they won’t stay forever. How we express our feelings is very important. When we phrase it “I am…” we start to identify with our temporary feelings. When we instead phrase it “I feel” or “Right now I feel…” we express how we feel in this very moment. It is an aspect of our current state of being but not a constant of who we are. When you feel out of your mind, angry, anxious, sad, happy, excited, surprised, strong or any other feeling, you are still much more than that. All emotions are part of who you are. There is not one or a couple of emotions that dictate who you truly are. No one is an “anxious person” or a “depressed person” or anything like that.
95% of our thoughts are repetitive and 80% negative due to the National Science Foundation – if, we don’t make an effort to become more aware of our thoughts.
When we become more mindful of our thoughts, we can change them and make them more positive. Even the thoughts you might have every day, telling you who you are and who you aren’t, are very likely not true. Often we are not who we think we are. We grow up with the beliefs and values of our surroundings, parents, parent figures, close friends, school, teachers and so on. But when we never question those beliefs, we cannot be sure whether or not they are truly our beliefs.
I grew up with the belief that one can’t live a healthy life with a vegan diet. I would make fun of people telling me otherwise and told them, and myself, that I couldn’t imagine to ever live like that. I never questioned this belief, until I did. Today, I live mostly plant-based and I am healthy, more so than ever before actually. I also thought that I wouldn’t care what other people think about me and I would make my choices only based on what I felt was right for me. This was a big part of who I thought I was. Until I started questioning who I really was. I realized that many of the things I thought I wanted, were in fact expectations of other people, that I wanted to fulfill. I did things in order to fit in. And again, I was convinced that I wouldn’t do this. I was convinced that I made my own decisions, always based on what I wanted. But I just never questioned my actions and beliefs enough to really know what I wanted.
Who we think or belief we are, is not always who we truly are, and our emotions are temporary, just as our looks, jobs, skills, and emotions.
If we aren’t our looks, our jobs, our skills, emotions or who we think we are, who are we then?
We all have a core that – at least for most of us – is hidden underneath many layers of things that we were taught to believe were who we are. There are many ways to understand who we truly are. But for now, my goal is to first create the awareness within you. So that you start the journey towards getting to know your true self and live the life you truly want to live. And this is where the journey will take you eventually, to the life of your dreams. To a life where you are the conscious creator of your life. A life where you no longer blame anyone or anything for what is happening in your life, but where you want to take full responsibility for it.
Everyone is born with all it takes to live a happy and fulfilled life. This requires us to know who we are and what we truly want. Because a happy and fulfilled life is very different for each of us.
When people are just “ok” with their relationships or overall life, it is because they don’t know who they truly are and what they really want. People are taught that they are supposed to know who they are, once they come out of their teens or once they have their job and their own lives. But how does it actually work? By following the education system and getting a job?
The truth is, we don’t get to know ourselves unless we consciously work on getting to know ourselves and question who we really are.
Knowing who you are is the biggest gift. It allows you to live a life on your terms. That is also why it requires a lot of work, because all great things do require putting in the work first. But really, is there anything better than knowing who you are and becoming the conscious creator of your entire life? Once you know what you want, you can work on making it happen! It affects all parts of our life, relationships, job, health, happiness – everything. I experienced that it myself: it is worth the work! In fact, it was the best decision I ever made so far and the reason I want to share this with you today. Know thyself to start living the life of your dreams.