How many times would you guess, in your lifetime, have you asked yourself, “Who am I?” How often have you been able to answer the question? And just what is your answer? There are so many means we use as identifiers, just think: first names, surnames, ethnicity, familial roles like mother, son, or wife. Some use astrology. For example, I am a Pisces. That should tell you a lot about who I am, right? We use our jobs to define us, an accountant or homemaker. Or, we look at where we live, “I’m a Southerner.” Some explain their birth order, “I am the oldest” or “I’m the baby of the family.” Perhaps, most strongly, we listen to our internal voice. The one that says, “I am dramatic” or “I am a loyal friend”.
What we aren’t taught in school, though, is that any meaning attached to any of these identifiers is, in the end, just made up. Being the baby of the family does not, in and of itself, mean anything. Maybe the last-born is less mature because they were coddled by the parents. Maybe, by the time the last child came about, the parents were over it and let the baby do whatever they wanted. These things could be true or they may not be. The only thing that is certain is that whatever the case, it has much less to do with birth order and more to do with what that individual believes about himself, what he chooses to adopt as his truth, his who.
Our capacity to identify with external concepts has something to do with the development of our egos. In layman’s terms, the function of our mind that controls how we interact in the world in terms of pleasing ourselves and pleasing others. Who are we pleasing when we self-identify as the baby?
Ultimately, all of these only serve to describe what we are, not who we are.
How about when you have ADHD? Some teachers will point out consistently what you are not doing right. Friends may not want to go shopping with you anymore because you get lost in stores for hours, which can be disheartening. Parents or spouses remind you to do things, making them nags, and that’s just annoying. How can you figure out who you are when all anyone seems to notice is your ADHD?
Let’s look to other criteria that we could use to better define our who? In coach training we are taught to look at an individual’s strengths, beliefs, and values. “I am a confident, creative individual who aspires to inspire others to be their best self.” Now there’s a who. So, who are you?
Solution: Don’t be so concerned with your what as much as your who.
When you really focus on who you want to be, all of the labels and stereotypes don’t work anymore.
“I want to be a famous movie-star.” – that’s a what
“I value connecting people to experience by portraying characters as realistically as possible.”– that’s a who.
“I have ADHD and can’t seem to keep my house organized and clean.” – that’s a what
“I value my interesting job over attending to boring chores.” – that’s ADHD
Suggestion: Find your values, use your strengths, change your story, change your life.
“I also value my family being able to invite friends over to a clean house, so I hired a cleaning lady to come a few hours every week.” – that’s YOU.
photo credit: Member Name Tag Day. (n.d.). Retrieved March 5, 2014, from http://www.ymcaerie.org/2013/03/member-name-tag-day/