Perspectives on Self-Identity focuses on your self-identity.
What is identity? The Latin meaning is “sameness, oneness, the state of being the same.” Identity is the distinguishing character of someone.
What is self? The addition of the Old English word “self” distinguishes a person’s essential being from others. Now we have additional words to consider. “Essence” is the basic element of something. “Being” is about existence.
What is self-identity? Self-identity defines what you think and believe about who you are.
What’s the Problem?
Consider the dictionary definitions of identity as “sameness, oneness, the state of being the same” and “self” as how your “essential being” is distinct from others. How well does this define you?
Perhaps you have done self-help work to find your "true self” by ridding yourself of your "false self." You might have heard about Michelangelo's sculpture of David as a metaphor for how to live the life you truly desire to live. As the story goes, Michelangelo was asked how he made his statue of David. Michelangelo said that it was easy. All he had to do was chip away any part of the stone that didn't look like David.
Although it's unlikely that Michelangelo ever said anything like this, these words attributed to Michelangelo about carving his statue of David have become a familiar cliché for self-help work. You can only become your "true self" if you get rid of your "false self."
What’s the problem with this metaphor? The first problem to consider is that Michelangelo was chipping away stone to create a statue. He was not creating a living, breathing human being. Whatever else you are, you are a not a hunk of stone. You are alive. You started out life as an infant and you started on your own life-journey of constant change. The only constant in your life has been constant change.
What if the concept of finding your trapped "true self" is a major obstacle to living a creative, ambitious, successful, satisfying, and happy life?
The Life-Changing Question
How would your perspective on your self-identity change if you consider your self-identity from the perspective of a dynamic, ever-changing human being rather than from the perspective that your true self-identity is some trapped, static entity?
Consider the quotation attributed to Michael Wood:
Identity is never static,
always in the making
and never made.
The quotation expresses the truth about human life. Nothing about life is static. Life itself is dynamic and always changing. Human beings experience challenges, problems, sorrows, pains, injustices, wars, catastrophes, and tragedies. Human beings also experience love, joy, happiness, gratitude, amazement, adventures, and successes. This is life. And this is your identity. Nothing is fixed. Everything has the potential for change—for good or bad. Rather than look for the perfect you, you can choose to live as the ever-changing imperfect you in an imperfect world of constant change.
The life-changing question is: What kind of self-identity would you love to create?
Find out more in my book How to Get Out of the True Self Trap: The Life-Changing Secrets of Heroic Stories. By Kalinda Rose Stevenson, Ph.D.
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