Is Not What You Are But Who You Become That Matters

Reconnect with your true self

Gustavo Razzetti
Nov 15, 2017 · 10 min read
Our identity resembles our shadow. It changes its shape, it evolves. But it’s still ours.

“Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?” — Scott Turow

My life has been fast and furious since I quit my job six months ago.

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” — Malcolm X

Change encourages self-reflection. You can’t get back in the driver’s seat of your life, without understanding who you are.

The Multiple Layers of Self Identity

“We contain multitudes.” — Walt Whitman

When I ask someone “who are you?” they normally reply with their name and occupation. Our profession, especially in the US, plays a critical role in our identity. It takes further probing — asking ‘who are you’ over and over — to get past relationship status, music preferences or hobbies. And connect with the deeper self.

You are not job or race, you are much more than that.

Your Identity Should Guide Your Journey, Not Get You Stuck

“Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it.” ―George Bernard Shaw

Look at the list your created to describe who you are. Do you see inconsistencies or contradictions? That’s normal. Don’t panic.

The Shadow You Used to Be

“The curious paradox is that when we accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” — Carl Rogers

Your identity changes shape, it evolves. But it’s still yours.

The Baha’i teachings promote the agreement of science and religion, the equality of the sexes and the elimination of all prejudice and racism.

Accepting that others are different is the price we pay to be unique.

When you are confident about your identity, you don’t need to use your beliefs to exclude those who are different. You are in control. Not others.

Meet Your True Self

“Tear off your mask; your face is glorious.” — Rumi

Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott introduced the term ‘true self’ to describe a sense of self based on spontaneous authentic experience, and a feeling of being alive, having a real ‘self’.

An Exercise to Embrace Your Fluid Self

Try this exercise:

  1. List all your labels using the identity diagram previously described.
  2. Find tensions and contradictions. Ask why? What’s driving those?
  3. Using the template below, select the most relevant moment in your life (e.g. childhood, adolescence, etc.). Write down your values, beliefs, key choices, social affiliations, what made you feel proud about yourself, what made you feel disappointed. Write one sentence to answer ‘who are you?’ Complete this for each ‘moment.’
  4. Now review your journey. See what changed through time. Ask yourself why. Try to make sense of your evolution. Embrace those changes and, most importantly, realize your identity fluidity.
  5. What do you want to do differently? What values, beliefs, behaviors do you want to stop, ignite or accelerate?
  6. List three things you’ll start doing to become more tolerant with those who think differently to you.
  • Stop seeing people through a right/wrong lens. A problem can be solved in many different ways.
  • What worked yesterday might not be the best solution for today.
  • What you believe imprisons you. Letting go frees your mind.

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

Thanks to Moira Dillon

Gustavo Razzetti

Written by

I help teams and organizations build purpose-driven cultures. Creator of the Culture Design Canvas. Insights → bit.ly/ChangeInsights

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

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