A Favorite Focus

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

~ E. E. Cummings

How do we become ourselves? It is one of life’s great contradictions that the things we don’t want to look at in ourselves are the very things we need to look at in order to know ourselves better and to become more fully who we are. Yet, it is often the feelings that make us want to run away that are filled with energy and inspiration – if we are willing to look into them. Then, when we look, we find the information we need in order to grow more into our selves.

So, is it that we really don’t know ‘who we are’ that is the problem? Or is it our delusions around the perceptions of ‘what we are’; the conditioning of the mind that we acquire after birth? Consider this: When born, a new baby is conscious yet it has no sense of being a person, a personality. This is something that is instilled into us as we grow up. All kinds of impressions and assumptions are given to us through our parents, our peers, and society. We are continually fed information about ‘what we are’ and what we should be.

But when and how are we encouraged to explore who we are?

This post merely introduces a subject of enormous depth. But it scratches the surface of one of my favorite probes. If you want to explore more about ‘who you are’ versus ‘what you are’ or do, here are four starting considerations:

  • You are not your circumstances. Circumstances, both good and bad, can change. Who you are will still be standing when they do.
  • You are not what you do. I’m going to repeat this. You are not what you do. When you can no longer do what you do , whether by choice or not, you will still be you.
  • You are not your roles. We all have lots of roles we play. But none of them fully define who we are.
  • You are not your beliefs or affiliations. This is a tough one. Identifying with belief systems or groups is especially comforting. It makes us feel safe and secure. But one of the keys to growth is openness.

Becoming who you are, at your core, can take considerable time and effort. Is being your authentic self something you want?

17 thoughts on “A Favorite Focus

  1. Getting to know oneself is easy for a few but difficult for most. It takes time, maturity, introspection and lots of life experiences in order to discover who we really are.

    • Indeed! Fortunate, then, are those who choose sooner to explore, discover and do the work to become their authentic self. There’s no rule that says one must first accumulate an abundance of life experiences and wisdom. Have at it, young man.

  2. How wonderful. I was telling my mum that nobody in Costa Rica starts a conversation with, “What do you do?” She is a chatty, social person, and starts off most of her conversations with people she doesn’t know that way. It’s one of those things I’ve noticed about Americans, especially…they’re ready with a perception based on occupation, or lack of one. There are no self-help books in Spanish on the shelves here. I doubt if it’s from any sense of enlightenment, but it health or life experience seems to be the ice breaker in chit-chat most everywhere I’ve been, from Africa to Central America. I could go on forever about just that, and you have presented something so much deeper…I am unworthy to comment any more, not really knowing who I’ll be by the time you read this.

  3. Thank you! You are worldly in perspective and opinion. We could both go on about a multitude of views. With intention, I begin conversations (with people just met) with genuinely curious invitations to share something unique about themselves. I suspect you can imagine the deer in headlights looks that are returned. The show stopper is inevitably “Who are you?” Every now and then, I engage people who are comfortable with knowing who they are and sharing. That almost always makes the encounter worthwhile.

  4. So true! We are bombarded from birth with “what” we are (which is a necessary tool for survival as a primal instince), but our job – as intellectual beings – is to then learn “who” we are as a multifaceted being. It’s a difficult journey, but one well worth it. It’s all about learning to be “comfortable in your own skin,” as the saying goes. Every day I continue to learn more about the “who” I am, and find that a comfort. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂 Keep up the great writing!

    • I agree, it is our job (and opportunity) to learn about our “who.” What’s encouraging is that more of us are creating time to explore and learn. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

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