Friday, October 7, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

Who are you?

Everybody has a sense of who they are. We think of ourselves as having a huge set of habits, preferences, talents, emotions and many other parts that make up our personality. You might think of yourself as introvert, too aggressive, creative, prone to idleness or any number of things.

Are these things really you? How did you become the person you are right now? One of the most eye-opening realizations you can have as a person is that all these labels are arbitrary and will in many cases not be a true description of your self.

Our personalities are formed from we are very young. Long before we have a conscious idea of our own minds we are subjected to other peoples labels for us. "You're such a good boy", "you don't have much of a talent for dance", "Why do you always mess up?", "You are such a great painter!". We are presented these "facts" from before we can even understand what it means.

These messages, combined with cultural norms, advertising, popular media and countless other forms of sensory input helps shape who we identify ourselves as. When we grow older we might reject certain labels and adapt new ones that we think fits better. But how true are these assumptions about ourselves?

Almost all of the features of our personality are made up and can be changed. If you think you are lazy and have a hard time getting motivated, that is how you will be. But there is no hardwired gene that makes someone lazy. If you reject the label and instead decide that you are full of motivation to get things done, that is how you will act.

This is true for virtually every mental picture we have of ourselves. Obviously, there are physical attributes that determine parts of who we are that can not be changed, but your appetites and personality traits are not set in stone. They are just accumulated mental habits from years of conditioning by others and yourself.

Realizing this can be quite scary. A typical reaction when you start to realize that your very sense of self is not definite is to feel like everything is falling apart. That everything is floating. That nothing is certain. These reactions are uncomfortable, so scary that many will reject the very idea that their sense of self is not 'real'.

After the initial confusion is over this insight opens up a whole new way of seeing the world and your place in it. You can no longer say that you wish you had a better ear for music, or I'd love to travel more but I am too overwhelmed by the planning. You are free to re-frame your very core. If you wish you were braver, realizing that your cowardice is not a real thing give the tools to re-imagine yourself with the courage you want. If you want to be good with money, you can make that a feature of your personality.

This process is by no means easy. There is tremendous amounts of resistance against these kinds of radical shifts of your self. The first step on the way however is to realize that you have the power to decide what kind of person you are.

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