My Identity – Skill Sets
Who am I? This question, so frequently asked, proposes that there is actually a reasonable answer. Almost as if our Being were a predetermined, finite thing. People who ask this sort of question are typically struggling with their identity and are searching for an organic sense of themselves. I mean we see this in the retail market now with companies like 23 and Me and Ancestory.com. I am not against these products because they do have medical value and can identify some fun stuff. The irony is that the more you seek to identify who you are by looking back, 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. What if the answers aren’t what you want? What if you can’t find answers? The emphasis shouldn’t be on discovering who you are based on who you were or where you come from, but on facilitating the emergence of what you’d like to experience.
Our identity should be seen as an evergreen process. Rather than a static snapshot, we should embrace a flowing sense of self that we are perpetually re-framing, re-organizing, re-thinking and re-considering. As our self-awareness grows so should our understanding of who we are in that moment. A great way to adjust into this mode of operation is to ask ourselves great questions like, how would I like to engage life?
A sense of inadequacy often informs the question around “Who am I?”. Although we are all in search of a deeper answer to this question, the question itself can position us for struggle. The undercurrent can be that of lack, like something is majorly wrong or missing. As we engage the deepening complexity of understanding ourselves, we would fare much better to devote ourselves to the unfolding process of life. Witnessing our thoughts, not reacting out of old habit, and becoming present enable us to better craft our lives. As such, the identity that we seek fires the wave of life, enriched by the flow.
Imagine that you’ve been in prison for thirty-five years, incarcerated since the age of eighteen (very similar to being an addict for 35 years). You literally have no adult life experience outside of the penitentiary/addiction. Your sense of self is tragically limited. You might ask yourself, “Who am I? This would likely provoke a fragile sense of self that paradoxically might leave you most neurotic about your imminent release. You’d probably never choose to remain imprisoned until you could find your identity. You would have to allow that new sense of self to flow from your new experiences, what I like to call your new adventure.
I have coached people who have been married more or less for their entire adult lives. Upon divorce they are often confronted with a distressing thought. They claim that they don’t know who they are. More to the point, they may not know who they are as a single, autonomous adult, not partnered. After all, how could they? Rather than suffocating in fear, you’d need to summon up a sense of wonder and adventure. There is a new sense of self waiting to be born. You get to re-create yourself along the way.
At the other end of the identity stick are the people who claim to know themselves so well. This other extreme also signifies a fragility regarding one’s identity. To know yourself too well leaves no room for growth. It’s the old, ‘you have it all figured out mindset’ that leaves one in a highly limited space of what they think they know verses what’s possible. Even more, it suggests a deep vulnerability that is being defended against – as if it were too dangerous to take a deeper dive and closer look.
All that said, it makes complete sense to desire a deeper sense of Self. To become intimately aware of your thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears is highly advisable. The key is to engage your sense of Self as pliable, more like a palm tree than a sturdy oak. The palm is flexible and survives the storm as it bends with the wind, whereas the more rigid oak is more likely to crack.
The Universe exists in a constant state of flowing potential, and as an intimate connection of that universe we do as well. And it is essential to understand that we are indeed part of that universe. The goal then is to access that potential, keeping the parts of our identity that continue to serve us well and shedding the old, habitual pieces that constrain us, much like a snake sheds it’s skin. In the old rooms of recovery, we used to say your have to keep peeling this onion. This process is technically known as positive disintegration. This permits us to find balance between the extremes previously discussed and enter into a relationship with Self that commits to our own personal evolution.
In my course You Inc. we do a number of discovery exercises to create clarity on who you are in this moment. One of those exercises is unearthing your skills. Many of us walk around not aware of what our real skill set is and more importantly how to leverage that skill set to drive more enjoyment in our day through growth and contribution. By gaining clarity on your current skill set you can vividly see ways to participate in the moment and stay in a flow state. The other part of this exercise allows us to look at skills we would like to acquire. This gives us personal growth goals to achieve and a clear direction to take. I have attached a free portion of this exercise for download. Take it! have fun exploring your skills and getting even more clear on who you are RIGHT NOW.
Click the Free Download of the You Inc. Skills exercise!