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“I don’t know who I am.” is the one question many ask themselves these days, in short it means, “Who am I?” You might think that saying about yourself, “I don’t know who I am.” sounds weird – but it’s not. In an age where so much is possible, you can sometimes lose track of who you are and the focus on top of it. That’s why it’s so important these days to find an answer to that question, “Who am I?”. Read here why I think it’s so important and how you can find answers to this question – you can also check out the exercises I recommend.
I also have another answer to the question that you might not have expected. If you want to go straight to it without any detours, jump straight to the last chapter. This can also be interesting for you, if you have already found many answers to the question: “Who am I?” for yourself – but you are still searching.
In a world of more than 1000 possibilities, it is easy to get lost. So it’s good to have a clear orientation when it comes to your job, your friendships, your love relationship, your hobbies and your spiritual orientation. Can you make good choices for yourself in these areas? Have you already reached where you want to go in these areas today? And have you already found that goal for yourself in each case? Or are you asking yourself:
“I have so many options. Which one suits me? And will I be happy with it?”
If you say, “I don’t know who I am,” and you want to find the answer to the question, “Who am I?” you will find that many philosophers, theologians and psychologists have already dealt with this question. But don’t worry, I don’t want to give you an overview of their answers. I like to throw you back on yourself. After all, this is about you! You should not be a copy of the others – but find the answer to this inconspicuous, but important question in yourself. So let’s take a look at yourself. If you’ve been saying to yourself, “I don’t know who I really am,” then you may be at a loss and not know what you’re looking at.
Here are questions that will get you further with the question, “Who am I?”
Although there are so many different people in the world and everyone has a fingerprint, every single fingerprint is very individual and unique. And so you are also a very individual person with a very unique personality. This is expressed in the answers to the questions above – and they are different for you than for me – just unique for each individual person.
However, it doesn’t seem to be that easy – because many are overwhelmed with the answer to the above questions at first. That’s why I have collected my inspirations for each question. Sometimes there is a formula for it, sometimes I have divided it into small steps and many things will still need time to dive into it. Are you ready to find your answers to the questions together with me?
In these times, some people no longer even know whether they have found themselves – or whether they are only being controlled by the outside world. If this is clear to you, you can skip this paragraph. How can you recognize that there is still room for improvement in terms of self-knowledge? This applies to you if you say of yourself: “I have achieved nothing in life.” Maybe you also have the feeling that you are doing everything wrong? Or you keep saying to yourself, “Life is hard, life is meaningless, or life is unfair. Of course, this is a matter of personal evaluation and depends on how well you know yourself, and others may not necessarily agree with you. What everyone agrees on, however, is the statement, “Life can be over so quickly.” Yes, and that’s why it’s good that you’re dealing with yourself to get the most out of it.
That you haven’t found yourself yet also shows when you’re frustrated. You can tell by the fact that you often say to yourself, “I’m not important.” or “I do everything wrong.” but also, “Sometimes you just want to get away.” In that case, you’re already not even talking about “I” anymore, but about “you.” Maybe you’ve also made some decisions where your self-respect was lost? This can also be a sign that you don’t know yourself at all and don’t know what you need. “I have no goal in life.” is a very typical sentence and: “I’m weird.” or: “Why is life so unfair?” also indicate that you still have room for improvement when it comes to self-knowledge.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could replace all these sentences and the sentence: “I’m 30 and don’t know what I want.” at some point with: “Thank you for this new life?” Sure – let’s do it…
I already said that I don’t like to burden you with what others have found as an answer to the question: “Who am I?” Maybe you also ask yourself all day long, “What do others think?”, “What can I do so that others (don’t)…?” I may inspire you now to change direction and engage with yourself. In my work, I always find that people are not so kind with themselves here. So how can you focus on yourself to engage with yourself in a loving and appreciative way? From my experience it helps to keep an eye on what makes you happy. So follow my finger pointers, which can lead you to yourself.
Hint 1: Happiness arises when your needs are met. Do you know them?
Hint 2: You are happy and satisfied when you make choices that fit your personality traits. Are you satisfied with your previous (life) decisions?
Pointer 3: I am happy when life has a meaning. Have you already found your purpose in life, your why?
If you follow these three finger pointers, it promises that you will find your happiness, that you will be happy. So when you say, “I don’t know who I am,” you’re saying, “I’m not happy,” or better, “I want to be happy.” Right?
Then let’s pursue this mission of finding happiness together.
Let’s explore who you are. First, let’s look at your needs and then your personality.
To be happy, it is important to know your needs. These derive in part from knowing your personality traits. I assume that everyone has the same needs, but not everyone has the same need as someone else at the same time. Are you more of an introvert? Or are you one of the extroverts? This determines whether you need more or less rest for yourself, or more action and liveliness. Are you rather impatient and need efficiency or is harmony and beauty important to you?
If you don’t know your needs, the following questions will help you to find out. Grab some paper and a pen and write down your answers. This is now the first exercise I promised. You can also choose a nice booklet as your companion and write down everything that comes to your mind every day. Because much of what I advise here takes a little time.
We are now going to approach our mission from the other side. If you don’t know exactly what you want, then write down what you don’t want (anymore). Start with 5 things. If you don’t find that easy either, then answer my questions, which can lead you on the track:
For example: If you haven’t treated yourself to anything lately, say goodbye to your false modesty and treat yourself to something.
And then take just those 5 items you found and write down what you want to replace them with or by. For each of your five items, now ask yourself, “What do I want instead?” Then you’ve found what you want via a roundabout way.
As an example, if you have a dark curtain hanging in your bedroom and you just want it gone. Then you might think there’s nothing to replace the curtain. Yet there is – because I think you just want more light in your room, right? Another example: If you want to get rid of your false modesty, then you may enjoy life more and put yourself more in the center.
And we’ll go even deeper. Now I ask you to take your list of 5 items and ask yourself about each one, “Why is this important to me?” The answer is completely individual and will turn out differently for everyone – even if you ask yourself the same question.
As an example: Why is putting yourself first important to you? It could be that you want to get to know yourself better. Then it is about self-knowledge. But it may also be that you want to live self-love or enjoy being with yourself. The dark curtain, which you may replace with light, may be about lightness and joy of life.
We will go further and you can ask yourself: How can I fulfill these needs? Maybe you already have a concrete solution in mind that shows what it would look like if this need were fulfilled. The more concrete your solution is, the greater the probability that your needs will really be fulfilled and that you will make them reality.
Therefore, ask yourself: How can I fulfill the need concretely and what other possibilities do I have that the need is fulfilled? Don’t stick to the original example at all, but ask yourself what additional possibilities do I have to bring this need into my life in other ways as well?
As an example, you can simply take the curtain down and enjoy the brighter space. You can also ask yourself if you would like to bring more humor into your life, to experience more lightness and joy of life – when you are not in this room.
To complete our exercise, the last step is missing – to put your need into action. If your need is big, it can be helpful to divide it into small steps. Start at the goal and plan backwards. Take the steps in such a way that they do not overwhelm you, but that they are feasible.
For example, you may want to start on the path to self-knowledge and first find out what possibilities there are for this. Do you read a book or book a retreat?
Following this 5-step plan, you can now go through all 5 items on your list. It is important that you take concrete steps to make room for your needs to take their place in your life. Just thinking about it will not make you happy. Now you have taken an important step on the path of self-discovery.
Self-discovery has something to do with how you live your life and also with how the most important caregivers dealt with you at the beginning of your life. This creates a pattern that your brain then constantly repeats – so it’s learned. You bring your character, your personality with you – but it is also formed in the interaction with others. We have arrived here at a psychological question. It’s about three perspectives on you, the self-image: “How do I see myself?”, the external image: “How do others see me?” and the ideal image: “How would I like to be?” The ideal image is sometimes also something we take refuge in because we don’t like the way we really are. So this is where it starts to get complex now. Because it’s important to me to keep it simple, I may limit this point to two dimensions of your personality. If you want to go deeper, you can do that with this list.
And I may just ask you here: Are you more introverted or extroverted? The answer to this question will help you enormously to make decisions that are in harmony with yourself. Are you introverted and need more withdrawal and time for yourself? Or are you extroverted and recharge your batteries when you spend time with others. I think just knowing that makes life a lot easier.
No matter how you spin it, you yourself are responsible for the choices you make in life. So it’s up to you to live a life that truly fits its needs. Knowing yourself better has several advantages:
Knowing yourself helps you make better decisions and be more successful.
When you know yourself better, you can control your life – and no longer let others control you.
If you know yourself better, you are more self-confident and have greater self-worth.
You live more in tune with yourself when you know yourself better. That means you are no longer fighting against yourself, but can be at peace with yourself and your qualities.
It is in your own hands to be happy or to become happy and it is fun to deal with it. This promises you much more ease.
Do you love the “aha”-experiences like I do? This moment when you realize that now a new context has become clear or you have understood something? Yes, I love that.
Conclusion and outlook
Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your life? Would you say that you are happy? I assume that my exercise and my tips could already give you some clarity. Sometimes you just need someone to help you release what is already there. Or are you wondering what you can do to finally be happier and more content? Feel free to use what I’ve gathered here to increase your happiness factor and make the answer to the question, “Who am I?” more and more concrete.
If you are someone who really wants to know and is willing to look a little deeper, then I have something else for you. I like to look at the question: “Who am I?” with you from a completely different perspective.
No matter if you have already gained a lot of life experience – or not – you may have already noticed that all these factors I have written about so far will not bring you permanent happiness. Every little happiness is a gain – but in the sum they are all transient. Therefore, as a final point, I may suggest to you a way of dealing with the question, “Who am I?” that will lead you to true happiness. Here it goes to a happiness that is not transient.
Up to this point I have given you many answers to the question: “Who am I?”. And the better you could answer this question, the better you know yourself and the happier you should be. This is about you as a person. But if you feel inside yourself – are you really happy? Let’s look beyond this personal perspective together.
We’ve now reached a threshold where it’s no longer about answers. From now on, it’s about using the question only as a tool. Now you have reached where thousands of spiritual seekers have stood at one time or another. You have been initiated into something that has different names. It’s called self-enquiry, nan yar, self-exploration, self-inquiry, and there may be even more names for it. Some are stranded here and others have found themselves. The point is not to get an answer. The point is to keep orienting you to who you really are. But who are you? That’s not my business now, to initiate you into this. That is now what Madhukar’s business is. Listen to what he has to say:
And if you are touched by it, get his ebook, you can download it here on the website. Get the guided meditation from him or come right into the retreat with him and deepen the experience you have already had here on the site. Here you can find the dates when you can meet him – on site – or online (click).
Hi, I am Shivani
Blogger and podcaster at Madhukar Enlighten Life. I have known Madhukar since 2004 and am doing what I can to help this important message of happiness comes into many people’s life.
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