I am who I am or am I? Can the way we define ourselves be confused for who we really are? Or are they simply defence mechanisms to guard our true selves?Tweet
There’s an old saying: “Know thyself.” An interesting saying, which has stood the test of time – and for good reason. We humans, having been trying to get to know ourselves for a very long time.
But….How well does one really know themselves? Moreover, how accurate are we in accessing who we are? In other words, how do we discern the self? After all, there is more going on under the human hood than we realize.
With this in mind, could it also be true that we confuse certain behaviors with our identities? Is how we feel as a result of our childhood what defines us as, well, us? Maybe, but from my perspective, this can hinder a growth mindset. And as far as I can tell, growth is what we want.
Firstly, we must look the elements that make up one’s personality. So, what comes to mind when you think about personality? I bet you said something like “Some people can be kind, easy-going or a bit temperamental.” If you did, I’d say you were on to something. In my view, the above-mentioned are indeed examples of personality traits.
However, can this be true of every descriptor we use to define ourselves? Or is there some truth in saying that our behaviors sometimes get confused with who we are as people?
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Here, let me give you an example:
Have you ever heard someone say, or even read on a dating site, these types of statements? “I am who I am or better yet, this gem: “I tell it like it is?” While they are blunt and to the point, are they really “who you are”? Better still, do you really want to be the person to “tell it like it is?”
Perhaps it is. However, the question remains – is this really you? Or is it a defence mechanism you’ve accumulated over the years to protect yourself from bullies or a poor upbringing?
What if you’re kind and have a highly-sensitive disposition? How do you protect yourself from the world, when you “feel” everything?” Could the answer be that you become defensive and thus develop the “I am who I am,” or “I say it like it is” attitudes? So, essentially, you mask your highly-sensitive self behind a sharp tongue and a strong stance? If this is indeed the case, I think it’s fair to say that you have a highly sensitive personality and you try to protect it by always being on the defensive. To grow or not to grow,,,?
If it’s true that you’d rather not let the world see the real you, and thus do your best to hide it, what are its consequences? Moreover, what is the impact on one’s mental health?
I believe that how we define ourselves can either 1) foster our growth or 2) hinder it. As I mentioned above, the use of such statements ” I am who I am,” do, in my view, the latter. Why? Because it implies that I am comfortable with where I am; notice I said where I am, not who I am? This admission to stay stagnant is very clearly not a growth mindset, and can be downright harmful to your mental health.
So, despite being giving, compassionate and kind, you hide the majority of the tim in this non-growth mindset. But here’s the thing: Is this, “I am who I am statement” really getting you what you need? Connection, support, love… or is it escalating your anxiety? After all, connection, support, and love are what highly sensitive people want most, am I right?
My unsolicited advice
Firstly, let the world see your authentic self. it will liberate you and decrease your angst. Do those compassionate things, go ahead, and offer a hand or pay someone a compliment. If this is who you really are, deep inside, then go for it! If those who are around you poke fun, then push them out – they are hindering your growth.
“I acknowledge my true self and in doing so, I grow.” This is the catalyst for real, meaningful growth. What are you waiting for?