Anxiety Behaviour and Personality Depression Mental Health Opinion piece Road To Mental Wellness-the book Wellness Store

I am who I am or am I?

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?

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?

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.

The Rundown

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?

To celebrate the completion of my new book, The Road To Mental Wellness, I am giving away the first chapter, Monster – A Precursor for Illness -FREE! Get it at The Road To Mental Wellness – the book

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?”

I am who I am or am I?
Photo by Crypto Crow on – I am who I am or am I?

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?

How to develop a growth mindset

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.

  • I am who I am or am I?
    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?
  • Surface level thinking
    Can our tendency toward surface level thinking be hindering our mental illness recovery? Perhaps we need to dig deeper?
  • What’s best for the people of our nation?
    I’m all for individualism, but can too much focus on the self be hurting you? furthermore, what’s best for the people of our nation?
  • I can see the light!
    Finally, after all these years of fighting depression and PTSD, I can see the light. It may be a pin sized ray of light, but it’s a start.
  • My emotions devour my reason
    My emotions devour my reason. Here, I discuss one of the most necessary things for improving relationships and as well as your mental health.
  • If everyone had the skills of a therapist
    If everyone had skills of a therapist, or at least some of them, I believe, the world would be a much better place. Here’s why?

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?

When you buy something at the wellness shop you support The Road To Mental Wellness – thank you!

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental-health blogger, writer, Wellness coach and published author – appearing in the i’Mpossible’s Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental Health Talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental-health advocacy organization Sick Not Weak.

Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental-wellness journey while helping others along the way.

Educated as an addictions counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years to working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.

He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.

His book, “The Road To Mental Wellness,” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one’s life – right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Find Me Online

Contact Me

Please leave a comment and tell us what you liked about what you read.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


* indicates required
/ ( mm / dd )

%d bloggers like this: