This question, asked so often, suggests that there is actually a plausible answer. Almost as if our being were a fixed thing. People who ask this sort of question are typically struggling with their identity and are searching for a core sense of themselves. The irony is that the more you seek to identify who you are, the more fragile you are likely to feel about yourself. There may be an inverse correlation between the question being asked and the ease with which you experience your life. The emphasis shouldn't be on discovering who you are (what is buried beneath) but on facilitating the emergence of what you'd like to experience.
Our identity should be seen as an ongoing process. Rather than a static snapshot, we should embrace a flowing sense of self, whereby we are perpetually re-framing, re-organizing, re-thinking and re-considering ourselves. How different would life be if rather than asking who am I, we contemplated how we'd like to engage life? A sense of inadequacy often informs the question around "Who am I?" As people engage the deepening complexity of understanding themselves, they would fare much better to devote themselves to the unfiolding process of life. Witnessing our thoughts, not reacting out of old habit, and becoming present enable us to better craft our lives. As such, the identity that we seek fires the wave of life, enriched by the flow.
Imagine that you've been in prison for twenty years, incarcerated since the age of eighteen. You literally have no adult life experience outside of the penitentiary. Your sense of self is tragically limited. You might ask yourself, "Who am I? This would likely provoke a fragile sense of self that paradoxically might leave you most apprehensive about your imminent release. You'd hardly choose to remain imprisoned until you could find your identity. You'd have to permit that new sense of self to flow from your new experiences.
Upon divorce, many people, mostly women, are often confronted with a distressing thought. They claim that they don't know who they are. More to the point, they may not know who they are as a single, autonomous adult, not partnered. After all, how could they? Rather than remaining mired in fear, you'd need to summon up a sense of wonder and adventure. There is a new sense of self waiting to be born. You get to re-craft yourself along the way.
At the other end of the identity continuum are those who claim to know themselves so well. This other extreme also signifies a fragility about one's identity. To know yourself so well leaves no room for growth. Even more, it suggests a deep vulnerability that is being defended against, as if it were too dangerous to take a closer look.
It makes perfect sense to seek a deeper sense of self. To become intimately aware of your thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears is obviously advisable. The key is to engage your sense of self as malleable, more like a willow tree than a sturdy oak. The willow is flexible and survives the storm as it bends with the wind, whereas the more rigid oak is more likely to crack.
The universe purportedly exists in a state of flowing potential. And it is essential to understand that we are indeed part of that universe. The goal then is to access that potential, keeping the parts of our identity that continue to serve us well and shedding the old, habitual pieces that constrain us. This process is known as positive disintegration. This permits us to find balance between the extremes and enter into a relationship with self that commits to our personal and spiritual evolution.
This is an interesting exercise I heard on one of my favorite radio stations many moons ago while I was crafting my magical items one afternoon. I stopped in my tracks right then, grabbed a pen and paper and began to listen to the soft and comforting voice which was streaming through the airways into my world, offering me the opportunity to find out who I was. I was excited to hear the questions!
You will ask yourself two questions and write them down on a piece of paper, and as you ask yourself these questions, what comes to mind first is your answer. These answers will pertain to who you are on a spiritual level, how "you" see yourself in terms of your moral characteristics, what you think of yourself in terms of who you are. Not what you may think others think of you. For instance, if you think of yourself as a competitive person, your answer might be competitive. If you perceive yourself as being loving or caring, your answer might be kind or gracious. If you perceive yourself as being stubborn, then your answer is stubborn closed minded. The idea of this exercise is to answer the questions with honesty, no matter what the answer may be, so that you may reveal to yourself who you really are. This is a great exercise that reminded me once again, to remember, embrace and re-discover my true identity and my spiritual essence. But this one really hit home for me, which is why I want you to try it. Its so easy and you might find yourself doing this perhaps annually to just, step back, and reevaluate any changes that you have made, re-discovering yourself again, and how you have flexed with the ebb and flow, much like the willow Tree. Be honest and write down the first thing that pops into your mind.
So, sitting quietly with pen and paper, ask yourself those two questions:
* I am?
* What am I?
Now, how do you feel about those two answers, those two words you just wrote down?
Once I wrote down the answers to these two simple questions, I felt empowered and happy inside! And suddenly I am reminded of the power and spiritual essence of Nancy. The answers to those two questions for me, and I don't mind sharing were:
I am? HONESTY
What I am? STRONG
So there you have it. Your first name is "I am?" and your last name is "What I am?" So in this exercise, my name is "Honesty Strong". And frankly, thats better than Mean Bitch, Dishonest Thief or Nagging Housewife right? And if you find that the answers to the questions aren't quite what you expected, then therein lies your enlightenment that you may feel it necessary to make changes in your life to create the divine spiritual essence you seek to be. The idea here is to be completely honest, with yourself. Don't sugar coat your thoughts for the sake of making yourself feel or look good. This is your own personal exercise which need not be shared with others. It is the mirror which will allow you to take a good hard look at who you really are, how you may or may not be perceived by others, and your true spiritual essence at this moment in your life.
Please feel free to share your thoughts or even share your answers with a comment ~ Love and blessings to all ~