Friday, January 7, 2011

Define Me!

Who am I? On the surface this is seems a simple question and can be answered with various nouns and adjectives. I am a beautiful and intelligent woman.  I am a thinker.  I am  a surgeon. I am a compassionate and caring husband. And so on. However, when we dig deeper and go to the place we rarely want to go and ask this question with our heart and mind then the answer becomes almost like a mirror to ourselves. It spells out our identity - assumed or real identity.

How do I define myself?
I suggest that the response comes from that which gives you purpose. Is it your career? Your wealth?Your social status? Your children? Your husband or wife? Your religious faith?  Don't answer this question until you ask yourself - What or Who in your life if removed permanently or temporarily would leave you "define-less" - lacking identity?

Sometimes we are not even aware of what or who we allow to define us until that thing or person is taken away and we are left scrambling to make sense of who we really are.  We wonder if we truly believe the definition bestowed on us whether with assistance from others or just by ourselves - in our secret place.

I came across a sign some years ago that said "Don't take life too seriously, it is just a temporary situation".  Casting Crowns - the contemporary Christian rock band - in their song"Who am I?" give the same temporal view in the chorus - "... I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind..." Casting Crowns - Who Am I?

Very true... life as we know it is temporal... but this is the only "situation", the only "flower", "wave", "vapor" we will have so we take it so seriously that at a certain point in our lives we need to know who we are, know this "situation", "flower", because it somehow gives us meaning, makes us relevant - or so we want to believe.

It is a lonely place to be - when that which gives you meaning is taken or lost - at least until you re-define yourself and spell out a new identity, a new self - assumed or authentic (real) self.

Related Links:
Dr Phil - Self Matters
Todd Monger - Defining Self in a World of Errors
Marilynn B. Brewer - Abstract - The Social Self: On Being the Same and different at the Same Time


  1. This is such a deep question, and no doubt driven by what an individual's belief system is. The description given by Casting Crowns is on point... then question following thus becomes, if I am a vapor in the wind, temporal, then who am I when I "vaporize"? What has my striving been for on this earth? Jesus said that we should not build up riches on the earth, where they will be eaten up by moths, or will rust, but to store them up in Heaven where none of this will happen. How do we store riches in a place we can't see? Over to you mson.

  2. Good question. I have mulled over it and came to the conclusion that the message is that this natural life is a "temporary situation". The last part about storing "riches" in a place no one has been is relative to each one's belief system. However, I think regardless of what your belief leanings are on the after life there is a compelling argument that living life to its fullest is pillared on identifying your destiny, your purpose and acting on it. I believe that is very much linked to understanding your authentic self. But many of us are still defined by the assumed self.

    P/S - Even though I am a temporary "flower" or "vapor" I have a purpose albeit for a short time. I have to "bloom" or "rustle the leaves". I have to live life to the fullest in that short time in a way that gives me meaning. I suggest that the way to maximize my potential comes in understanding self - your real self.

  3. I think we are defined by what we spend most of our time doing, and by those we hang around the most. But the foundation of who we are has to be based on an immovable foundation that regardless of these "temporary situations" (work, family, friends etc), it does not uproot my core and helps us easily adapt to the next "vapor".

    This is such a great discussion - it has tickled deep issues, fears, hopes and wishes that paint who I am. I did an exercise 3 months ago writing my eulogy assuming I lived a "long" life and it really helped me focus on what and who I want to color the definition of me.

    So...who I am right now is a husband, father, tax payer, friend, volunteer, golfer all wrapped around my foundation as a christian.

    Let the discussion continue...