At some point in all of our lives we question who we really are. Often it's in a time of transition, when something we identify with is taken away. It could be loss of a job, a parent passing away, divorce, children leaving the nest, etc. So often we attach our identity to what we do or some label we carry; event planner, engineer, mother, wife, daughter, father, husband, Marine. You get the idea. None of which are the core of who we are. Recognizing this is where the hard work begins.
It's a funny thing in the United States, the first question we ask someone when we meet them is, "What do you do?" No wonder we identify ourselves with our careers first and foremost. If you don't work, you have to explain your way around that awkwardness. Other countries don't do this. Why? Because they find work a boring topic and would much rather talk about vacation destinations and food. I don't know about you, but so would I. Conversations are for exchanging points of view, not finding things in common, as is the goal of conversation for North Americans. Something to consider the next time you meet someone. Anyway, I digress...
So, how do we go about the painful process of figuring out who we are without labels. We have to make lists of our desires, preferences and beliefs. Once you understand who you are at the core, identifying all of those things that are important to you, you'll be able to start applying it to all areas of your life. You'll see where you are lacking and find areas that you need to change so that you are living as your most authentic self. This doesn't happen over night. I started this process about 8 years ago and still stumble occasionally. Though I find myself identifying things much faster that don't feel right and correcting them. I have also been able to identify my weaknesses that need work...I'm not gonna lie, sometimes that part sucks. Why do I put such high expectations on people, that I am often disappointed when they don't perform the way I want them to? No one suffers but me from this. Why can't I get my ass in gear and stick with an exercise routine. I can give you lots of excuses.
From Psychology Today, here is a great compilation of things to think about and write down to get you on the path of self-discovery:
• Education: your beliefs and philosophy about education for yourself and your family
• Politics: your political beliefs
• Religion: your religious or spiritual beliefs
• Parenting belief system: how do you want to raise your children and what are your priorities as a parent?
• Love relationship: what are the most important things to you in a love relationship?
• Opposite sex: who is the ideal man or woman for you; what are the characteristics?
• Friends: what kind of friends are you attracted to?
• Movies: what kind of movies do you like best?
• Books: what kind of books are your favorites?
• Jewelry: what is your style of jewelry?
• Fashion: what is your style of clothing?
• Cars: if you could buy whatever cars you wanted, which two would you choose?
• Architecture and house style: what kinds of architecture do you like?
• Furniture: what are your favorite kinds of furniture?
• Gemstones: your favorite
• Weather: your favorite
• Geography: your favorite landscape
• Season: which of the seasons is your preference and why?
• Music for listening: what kinds of music do you like for pure listening and pleasure?
• Music for dancing: what is your favorite dance music?
• Leisure-time activity: what leisure-time activities do you like most?
• Kick-up-your-heels fun: what activity do you love that brings you sheer joy?
• Exercise: your favorite kind
• Television: you favorite TV shows
• Food: your favorite foods to eat and cook
• Restaurant: when you dine out, where do you most like to go?
• Shopping place: what is your favorite?
• Vacation: your ideal vacation
• Sports to play: which do you enjoy the most?
• Sports to watch: which ones?
• Color: the best for you
• Fabrics: your favorites for wearing and decorating
• Flowers: the best ones for you
• Conversation: your favorite topics to discuss and with whom?
• Age group: the best for you to hang out with
• How do you treat others: what is your value system about human connection?
Once you've done the work, write a paragraph on yourself and share it with a good friend or partner to discuss. It's a great way to find out how you are presenting yourself and find out if what you think and what others see are in agreement. Sometimes there is work to be done here as well. It also may help you decide where you should steer your career so it aligns, or figure out what needs to be worked on in your relationships...who is nurturing you and who is toxic.
Mine would look something like this: Remi is a lover of nature and animals. She finds solace in communing in beautiful destinations, from the red rocks in Sedona, to the Mountains in Colorado in autumn, to listening to Howler Monkeys in the rain forests of Costa Rica. She believes all dogs and cats should have a human home and a soft place to sleep. She loves exploring cultures through their food and feels that diversity is best experienced through conversation and the sharing of a meal. She believes that kindness is key in all human and animal interactions. Honesty, integrity, openness and curiosity are what drives her and what she values most in others.
I'd love to read your paragraph and learn more about you. If you need help figuring out what to do with the information, send me a note and we'll build a path for you to follow. email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on my coaching, visit www.renovatedrealities.com.