These are timeless questions that philosophers, psychologists, and human beings have attempted to answer since the beginning of time. Today, most people get a version of this question when they first meet a person. For example, when someone meets you, usually the first question he or she will ask you is “What do you do?”
Thus, for many people their identity and who they are is usually linked to their job or career or education. Then, for a lot of people the next thing people ask us is whether we are married or in a romantic relationship. Therefore, for the majority of people their identity or who they are is almost always linked very highly to their career and relationship status. This is great when we love our career and doing well at it and when we are in a happy romantic relationship. However, when we identify solely with our career or relationship status, that puts tremendous pressure on our self to either find a career that we are successful at and love and also get into a romantic relationship or to keep our current job or romantic relationship
Further, when we place our identity and who we are on our career and romantic relationship, then we are putting our identity, who we are, and usually also our happiness, self-esteem, and peace of mind on something external and outside of ourself. We are giving all of our power and control of our happiness to our boss, clients, or romantic partner. This can create a very shaky sense of identity and fragile state of happiness. If our boss, clients, or romantic partner becomes unhappy with us, then our identity, who we are, and self-esteem becomes threatened. There is nothing wrong with finding meaning in our career, making money to support ourself and family, or having a close and intimate relationship with our partner. However, when our relationship and/or career is our only source of happiness or our identity, then our identity becomes subject to forces outside our control and very shaky and insecure.
The alternative is to ground our identity in something inside of ourself and something we have control over. In particular, the alternative is ground our identity in WHO WE ARE BEING. That may sound a little strange. I know that would sound strange if we started a conversation with someone we just met with the following question, “So, who are you being?” instead of “What do you do?”….But, if we can ask ourselves who am I being today, then that can ground our identity, raise our self-esteem, and put us in more control over our happiness.
I used this technique once when I was between jobs. I was without a job and my identity was being threatened. However, I woke up each day and asked myself: Who do I want to be today? I literally wrote down the following phrase, “Who I am is the possibility of being …….” Then, I would write down the first words that came to mind. For me, the words that resonated strong for me were being authentic, inspiring, and graceful. So, I would write down “Who I am is the possibility of being authentic, inspiring, and graceful.” Then, I would spend the day attempting to act and be authentic, inspiring, and graceful. My identity became less focused on my work status and more focused and grounded on my inner characteristics. Fortunately, I am now at a point where I my work and career allows me to be authentic, inspiring, and graceful. Part of my identity is still tied to my work and career. But, it is also tied and integrated with who I am being…
So, if you are looking to ground your identity, raise your self-esteem, or create an unshakable sense of self, then write down the following phrase:
“Who I am is the possibility of being ?????”
Then, write down the first three personality characteristics or character traits that come to mind and spend the day focusing on being those personality characteristics or character traits.