In a world that puts so much emphasis on building strong business relationships, it is easy to forget that the most important relationship we have is that with ourselves. It sure sounds like an old self-help cliché, yet recent studies have found that the cost of not investing in finding our true identity is higher than we might think. Not taking time to understand our triggers and behaviors could be catastrophic to our intimate, platonic and business relationships.
In the following paragraphs I would like to explain the potential impact of not having a good relationship with yourself, so that you can start making some changes where you deem necessary.
Discovery vs. Creation
People often tend to think that the self is something that needs to be found, but the truth is that the self is something one creates. We build and evolve into our identity through the lens of experience itself. I believe that the soul is who we are, and that the mind and body are the vehicles we use to translate what the soul experiences. Many of those experiences take place through chance, but many others come about through choice. Our lives are defined by who we choose to be, rather than who we happen to be, even though a majority of these choices is made unconsciously.
Understanding this premise is crucial for understanding our identity, as it changes the very definition of how most people perceive it in the first place. The moment you comprehend that identity is not about ‘discovering’ yourself but rather creating yourself, you can stop searching for it and actually start building it.
Living on ‘purpose’
We’ve all heard the importance of having big goals in our lives and living more consciously instead of just wandering without a sense of purpose. Unfortunately, my message is not going to be any different. Actually, it is…. I don’t just want to tell you that you should have big goals in your life without explaining why having them is of such tremendous importance to your being.
I believe that our capacity to realize our purpose on this planet is the best way to create a strong identity, and when we fail to understand this, we might have to reconcile with the notion that regret is more real than we thought further ahead in the future. Now, assuming that I’m right and that this is really the case, then most people would say that the logical next question would be:
“How do I find my life purpose?!”
I, however, find the question too vague and overwhelming. I don’t think asking this particular question is the right way to go about it. Instead, I would ask: “What is it that I enjoy doing TODAY to the extent that I can gradually turn it into an obsession tomorrow?” Notice how I use the word ‘obsession’ and not ‘passion’. Having a passion is like saying: “When everything else is done and there is still time and energy left, I will invest the remaining in my passion.” An obsession, however, is different. Being obsessed is like saying: “I will invest all my time and energy in my obsession before anything else that might need my attention.” One is a ‘should’ while the other is a ‘must’. Notice the difference?
Ego is not your amigo
One of the most common misconceptions in human psychology is that we think our actions define our identity. What if I told you that this is actually not true, and that with every form of gaining, doing and being our ego just adds layers to it instead of actually defining who we are. What if I told you that our ego pretends to function as a defense mechanism whose primary goal is to attach new layers to the formed self in order to secure our place in this world. I know this sounds deep and far-fetched, but I want you to reflect on it for a moment.
Tony Fahkry, one of my favorite self-empowerment authors once said: “Who are you if not for the sum of your past?” We are who we are due to our past conditioning, just not in the way most of us might think.
For instance, have you ever believed in something (or someone) until you did otherwise? Have you ever dressed up in a certain fashion, just to look back on it a few years later somewhat embarrassed? Or maybe you’ve been in a relationship of which you were convinced it would last forever until it didn’t. We create an image of what we think we want or should accomplish, just to learn at a later stage in life that that story we tell ourselves doesn’t really hold up. Through the passing of time and the filter of experience, our identity reveals aspects of us that we just didn’t know about yet.
Change vs. Growth
To become the most authentic version of ourselves, we must go through a journey of self-exploration. It is through this journey of trial and error that we can shape our identity and align with its core values. However, we must understand that behavior is fluid. As time changes, so do we. Having said that, we need to underline the difference between change and growth. Change is horizontal, whereas growth is vertical, and if that’s true then, by the very definition of it, strengthening our identity is done outside of the comfort zone.
Doing this, however, requires a certain amount of sacrifice. We have to learn to sacrifice the ego, as it is the biggest obstacle on our path to self-actualization. It is the ego that robs you of your willingness to fail and to be judged and rejected. Understand this and nothing can stop you. For now, let all of this sink in and, when you’re done, go create yourself.