WHO AM I?
I don’t know how important it is to answer this question. I do know that it can be helpful sometimes because how we spend our life’s energy is directly tied to how we have answered that question. In other words, if you consider yourself an athletic person, you’ll work out a lot. Philosophers philosophize. Thieves steal. Artists create art. Loving people put their efforts on developing compassion and loving kindness.
As I explained in a previous post, a lot of this self-image is determined in childhood. And, we can’t control how adults will treat us as children. However, once we grow up and develop the mental and emotional capacity to understand these issues, if we want, there are things we can do to change. We can return to our true selves, the people we were born to be.
I’ve used the method below to guide people through a series of questions which can potentially give them a new way to answer the WHO AM I question.
I’ve found that some of the benefits of this model are:
1) The person creates a new understanding of self by stepping through the process and answering the questions for themselves. It’s not someone else who tries to tell them who they are. Since these are their answers, then can better internalize the potential value,
2) It is a simple and understandable process which creates a visual,
3) It makes it easier for them to see themselves in a positive light.
- Get a blank piece of paper. In the center, draw a circle with a two inch diameter.
- Draw three concentric circles around the smaller circle.
Draw lines across all the circles so that it looks like a pie. The number of pie shapes you’ll have will depend on you (see below).
In the innermost circle write all the positive words that describe your TRUE SELF. These are the attributes that reflect the essence of YOU. That is the self that you were when you were born. I don’t generally like using the word perfect to describe humans. But, I make an exception for babies and feel comfortable calling them perfect because that is just another word for saying pure. That perfect, pure baby that you were born is your TRUE SELF or you could call it your core self. Everything about your true self is positive and is the essence of the human that was born into this life. I don’t believe people can be born evil. Only a couple of times have I run into someone who really does think some people are born evil. Obviously, they don’t accept this thinking and won’t be helped with this process. The attributes that you put in the innermost circle don’t need to be true all the time because as we know, other factors can obstruct our true selves. In fact, the attributes can even be goals or values that you have but have yet to achieve. You can list them because you can claim them as what you see for your ideal healthy self. That is who you really are. Examples of words that can be written include: loving, generous, compassionate, kind, creative, expressive, gentle, assertive, strong, caring, curious, brave, timid, genuine, spontaneous, fearless, bold, honest, intuitive, unwavering, organized, and more.
Next, the concentric circles that surround the core / true self represent what happened to you and how you felt about that. Those things can be positive or negative depending on what actually did happen. These rings can sometimes be so thick and heavy that they nearly drown out the true self. That doesn’t mean that the true self isn’t still there. It is. You can fill the innermost concentric circle with what happened during your early childhood. The middle concentric circle can cover the teen and early adult years. The outermost circle can cover the later adult years. Examples of early childhood experiences could include: alcoholic father, beatings, parent preferred sibling, loving parents, abusive neighbor, humiliated, happy, supportive teacher, lonely, etc. It doesn’t really matter where or in what order items are listed. The goal is to list the most significant events and feelings. This needs to be done for the other life stages too.
At this point, you can visually see the difference between who you are (i.e. what is written in the middle circle) and what happened to you (i.e. what is written in the concentric circles). This can be extremely helpful because you can now visually separate some negative experiences from “who you are.” Maybe you were abused as a child but that doesn’t change who you are. It is what happened and you will have feelings about that. Again, those feelings aren’t who you are; they are feelings about what happened. That’s something different. Maybe you were mistreated as a child but that doesn’t change who you were born to be. It sometimes helps to color the innermost circle a different color from the concentric circles. This again highlights the difference between who you are and what happened to you and how you felt about that.
Finally, the whole circle is divided into parts. These parts are represented by the pie shapes on your circle. Every person has a child part, a parent part, a wise part, a protector part, and other parts specific to them. You can name each part and write the name at the widest part of the pie shape. Notice that all parts are connected in the center where your true self resides. That means all parts of the person are good. All parts attempt to accomplish something good for the person (since they originate from the center) but sometimes the WAY they get their job done is hurtful. For example, someone might have a “smoker” part. They smoke cigarettes, which is bad for health, because it calms them. Well, doing something to calm oneself isn’t a problem at all. The part is good. How it does its job of calming is the problem. So rather than trying to get rid of the smoker part, it instead needs to negotiate with the other parts to find a new way to get its job done.
That a pretty brief and fast explanation but I hope it provides another tool that can be used for healing and self-exploration.
Love to all.