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I Am: Who Am I?

by on August 26, 2011

I am

We all have a working idea of the self: we know “who we are”, or think we do. We understand that we possess an individual identity, that it matters greatly to us, and that it is one of the means by which we function in society. This personal identity is complex. It is made up of traits that we are born with and views that we acquire as we go through life. Some aspects of our identity are essentially permanent, others are subject to change. Identification for official purposes is often controversial because it does not acknowledge this complexity and variability. Authority’s challenge “Who are you?” is easily satisfied with a signature or a PIN number. The deeper question “Who, really, am I?” remains much harder to answer. While identity is currently a controversial topic, it is always a human story.

From the Wellcome collection
 Identity exhibition booklet (2009)


Who am I?

This question – asked so often – suggests that there is actually a plausible answer. Almost as if our being were a fixed thing. People who ask this sort of question are typically struggling with their identity and are searching for a core sense of themselves. The irony is that the more you seek to identify who you are, the more fragile you are likely to feel about yourself. There may be an inverse correlation between the question being asked and the ease with which you experience your life. The emphasis shouldn’t be on discovering who you are (what is buried beneath) but on facilitating the emergence of what you’d like to experience. Our identity should be seen as an ongoing process. Rather than a static snapshot, we should embrace a flowing sense of self, whereby we are perpetually re-framing, re-organizing, re-thinking and re-considering ourselves. How different would life be if rather than asking who am I, we contemplated how we’d like to engage life?

 From Psychology Today (2010)

From → I Am: Who Am I?

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