“An accurate definition of the self is impossible. You are more than you realize, more than you can define. And the more time you spend trying to nail down the definition, the less time you spend living right now… Your past is not your identity… You, living now, is your identity.” ~ George Lawrence-Ell, The Invisible Clock….
Many of us have an innate desire to be in control of our lives. But to be in control, we must also understand ourselves completely, and this leads many individuals into spending countless hours trying to figure themselves out. Perhaps this can also be attributed to a desire for safety and consistency, a sense of fear of the unknown, or even perhaps a feeling of anxiety towards our very existence. Nevertheless, many of us tend to feel that if we can define ourselves–our life, our death, and our purpose–we will have the answers that we seek in this life. Yet many great philosophers have already discovered and shared with us that there is no need to stop and take a snapshot of who we are–such a picture will always be incomplete and unfulfilling. Instead, we are inspired to create who we are by living out our identity each day of our lives.
I recently overheard some wonderful advice given to a young woman who had issues with her looks and was getting down on herself. The individual mentioned some beautiful advice about accepting yourself completely–flaws and all–that reminded me of a quote by Henry Kissinger: “Accept everything about yourself, and I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end–no apologies, no regrets.” And I think this is key to living our lives to the fullest–for if we can learn to accept ourselves completely, we will spend less time trying to uncover or capture our identities, and spend more time adding meaning and purpose into our lives in the here and now.
If we look close enough, we will be able to see reflections of who we are in the things we do and say, the people we interact with, the hobbies we fill up our free time with, the things we like and dislike, and the passions we pursue. And although we may not be able to see a complete image of who we are, or know the exact composition of everything behind what we see on the surface, we will certainly see some important aspects of who we are and we should be able to see positive and fulfilling personal growth.
Concentrate on living fully in the present.
Questions to consider:
Why do you think we get the urge to “define” ourselves? Can this be healthy? How can we ensure we do not let it detract us from living our lives?
What makes up your true identity?
How can you go about learning more about yourself without trying to completely define who you are?
For further thought:
“How can you develop a self-concept linked to your untapped potential? First, you can decide on the kind of life you would like to lead in ten or fifteen years. This will give you a standard for making decisions about current activities and will reduce the inclination to compare yourself unfavorably to others. Learn to ask, “How would I handle this situation were I the person I hope to become?” And then take action in line with your vision.” ~ Ari Kiev, A Strategy for Daily Living