“You become what you think about” ~ Earl Nightingale. Do not be deceived the title may sound a bit sarcastic, but may be let me rephrase the question; what do you think you are? True to the question many of us do not even know what we think of ourselves. I asked many of my colleagues and friends the same question and the answers I was getting were shocking 90% of them have never even thought about it. This may be true to you. Bob Richards says “you are what you think you are, and I agree with him 100%. You see the world only sees and knows what you give them or rather allow them to see. Your perception of yourself may be different from what the outside world sees.
What you think about yourself may very different from what I think about you. They say all growth is from within and what is seen from outside is the fruit of what is inside. It is therefore very important that you form a very positive identity about yourself and portray it to the world. I will give an example of a married couple. If you portray your spouse, as a bad person to your family that is what they will get. Simply because you “know” them better than your other members of the family and the opposite is true. I have outlined below a few attributes that will help us think about whom we really are and accept what we think we are.
What is your role?
We all have roles to play in our lives and these, change as we go through them. Take your mind back as to when you were still a young person, what was your role then in your family? What did your parents, your brothers and sisters including your peers expect of you? We all start out our roles as sons’ or daughters, sisters’ or brothers then friends, pupils’ employees and the list goes on and on. Compare that to now. You could be married and have children surely your role has definitely changed. This simply shows you the pattern of physical growth and responsibility being taken on by you. I am sure just reading the list of roles above has conjured up some images in your mind of what each of those means to you.
I know you have some kind of perception for each of them. Surely as you grow in your roles you will realise that these roles go with certain behaviours and expectations. These behaviours that you exhibit are what define you. To some they come instinctively to others they have to be instilled. Whatever, the case they are in built before they are shown to the world. The bible says “as a man speaks so is he in his heart”. Your reaction to the outside world is as a result of what you harbour in the inside. What you harbour in the inside is as a result of what you constantly think you are. Let me make things a bit clearer for you by defining what a role is. “This is what you are expected to do or your function”.
The different roles that we take up during our daily lives help us to think reasonably of the part we play in society at large and what is expected of us. Remember that you are part of one big family and each member of the family has distinct roles to play for the betterment of the family. Un fortunately the larger family has broken down and it is up to you and I to be role models. You can only be a better role model if you change your thinking and put on your best behaviours. Your character is largely determined by what you think you are. In fact, they say your thoughts determine what you become. You may have noticed that your role keeps changing during the day. Some may wake as husband sleeping next to your wife, at that time your role is of a husband, next wake up the children and your have a double role of both father and husband and as the day goes on your roles keep on changing and increasing. It is this change in roles that help us interact with society accordingly at large. We mould our children according to what they see us do and portray.
Knowing your identity
Roles may require us to be only a part of ourselves and may require us to be something that we are not. The more we do things the more they become a habit and the more we think in the same way, the more these patterns of thought and behaviour become our identity. The roles we play in life give us strength and confidence. The sad part and truth is that most of us derive our identities from these roles. When you derive your identity from these external roles, our true identity gets forgotten and we believe the lie that we are our roles.
Knowing your true identity is of paramount importance in achieving your personal development goals. Your true identity comes from deep within you. Your thoughts and your reaction towards the external world are a true reflection of your identity. I have come to know also that our identity can be seen in our daily roles. Practically speaking we have to play roles to operate effectively in society. It is a requirement that cannot be done away with. But these can dominate our sense of identity to the extent that we feel lost when all is said and done.
The solution is to find a way of playing roles without them becoming our identity. Identity is from within. We need to find an internal source for our identity and not rely on the external one. That is why it is very important that we keep reminding yourself of who you think you are. When we have found our internal source of identity we can then pick up our roles and play them with every confidence. Getting back in touch with who and what you really are, that is, finding yourself, opens up the possibility to play roles and move in and out of them with freedom when you like.
Self-awareness is critical to personal development depending upon your definition. You cannot definitely know or start to think about who you are before being aware of yourself. The only way you can be aware of yourself is to take an observatory stance. A state of pure awareness enables you to step outside yourself as it were and to take a look at yourself from the outside as an independent observe, much like a coach does in a coaching relationship. Being outside of yourself system gives you more objectivity to make better judgement of your personality. This then gives you a better understanding on thinking about who you think you are.
Personal awareness is gained by a shift in perspective of observing your thoughts, actions and feelings; observing the world around you, the relationships and people, and giving yourself a break from your self. Get feedback from these observations and write them down. The advantage of self-observation is that you are always with yourself and please endeavour to form an honest opinion about your observations remove feelings and emotions. One of the best ways to observe yourself is when you are playing your daily roles. I have tended to believe that role playing is for the gallery and does not allow us to be our actual selves. Self-awareness will greatly help you know exactly what you think you are.
It may sound funny but many of us have no sense of self-awareness. We just go about doing business as “usual”. Personal success and development requires that we change from our business as usual kind of a person to being self-aware and more positive thinking. If you have a positive attitude towards life most likely you are also living consciously. If you are living consciously you will agree with me that, things do not just happen by chance or lack. You cause things to happen by your thoughts.
Understanding your self
With increased self-awareness comes increased self-knowledge. I have never come across a successful person with very little or no knowledge about themselves. Personal development requires that you are in control of your being and to achieve this you need to understand yourself. How can you handle success if you do not have a clue about yourself? How can you even start to think about who you are before you even have an understanding of yourself? Self-knowledge leads to self-understanding and this gives us choice and freedom.
It offers up the possibility to live spontaneously, in the moment, creatively applying your accumulated wisdom to the situation before you, free of internal conflicts and half measures. Self-understanding will therefore, greatly help you in knowing who you think you are. Take a break and ask your self how much you know and understand yourself. If you have no clue about knowing yourself I suggest you become a student of yourself. Start by appreciating your various roles and have a sense of self awareness. What you are merely doing is aiding your knowledge and thoughts on who you think you are? Personal success therefore, requires that you have an understanding of yourself.
Becoming aware of your own internal processes and in turn gaining knowledge and understanding, naturally leads on to self-acceptance. This is when you now know who you think you are. Accepting yourself leads to greater self-awareness as there is no need to hide parts of yourself, as acceptance is pretty much the opposite of being judgemental. We all have experienced some bad patch of some sort in our lives and some of them we would rather not talk about them. The amazing thing is that the route to personal change and development is by rejecting, modifying or suppressing them. But instead it is in the accepting them that we develop and move on.
Self-acceptance is key element in knowing who we think we are. The only way you can advance in personal development is by accepting whatever, happened to you in the past and learning from them and thereby, moving on. Well I understand that some of us may have experienced life threatening situations but it is more important to accept the reality and move on. It would be wrong to completely deny whatever, happened. But, to actually accept it; get professional counsel if necessary and move on. We hide in these unfortunate circumstances due to fear. In my life I have come to realise that the number one enemy to success is fear. Get fear out of the way and you will have the courage to do.
Self-acceptance can be actualised by knowing what you think you are. There is no success with knowing what you think you are and setting goals and writing down plans to actualise your thoughts. When self-acceptance is attained there is even more freedom and peace of mind. You see in life we as human beings accept people by our own standards instead of accepting them as they are. Most of the time people want to be associated with the affluent in society. Those that we know can give us favours. When you achieve self-acceptance you will accept people for what they are and not who they are.
We all perform roles in life, yet we are not our roles and if we identify too closely with them we may feel safe but only temporarily. The authentic self is the true self underneath all the conditioning that has been acquired through life’s experience. You are what you are and that is ok. You are an original and there is only one you. Knowledge of ourselves is a pre-requisite for real lasting change and for a satisfied contentment with life. Ultimately being in touch with yourself means that; you will be aware of and be able to express your true feelings in an appropriate way as a responsible adult; you will have high levels of self-awareness and you will accept yourself for who you are. I hope and trust that this article has helped you in knowing and that you now can apply it accordingly. “Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never any higher than you think” ~ Benjamin Desraeli. Remember to always “standout tall and be counted”.
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