serene ambition™

transforming the culture of aging

Who am I?

Posted by Jim Selman on 11/14/06

I think the most important question we ever ask ourselves is “Who am I?” There are probably as many ways to answer this question as there are philosophies. How we answer it will determine a lot about how we observe the world, the possibilities we have, how we relate to the future and, ultimately, how we experience our lives.

For example, the prevailing culture, at least in the West, will tell us that “who we are” is a fact — that we are biological objects in an objective universe and we just need to get the right model to fully understand everything about ourselves. Most of the ‘human potential’ movement, ‘human resource’ departments and schools of psychology emerge from this worldview. Various spiritual disciplines will argue for some “non-material” interpretation— usually some aspect of awareness that is ‘inside’ us or a merging with various Eastern philosophies suggesting ‘we’ are awareness itself and One with all we experience.

Whichever orientation you may have, most people who think about it will say that whatever way you answer the question “Who am I?” is always an interpretation—for no one can ‘prove’ their point of view. If this is so, then the good news is that none of us are limited to or stuck with ‘being’ a certain way. We have a choice about who we are. And that choice gives us the possibility of altering how we relate to everything else, both subjective and objective—our circumstances, other people, the future, and even how we relate to ourselves.

At the end of the day, I am who I interpret or declare myself to “be”.

What if I changed the question from “Who am I?” to “Who would I be if it was up to me?”
This question can open a lot of possibilities. If we add a future reference, such as “If it were my choice, who would I choose to be 10 years from now?”, then we begin to distinguish between who we are as a story up to this point in our lives and who we are as a possibility. Looking at this from the perspective of the future allows me to observe ‘myself’ in a different context. More importantly, it allows me to consider what actions I can take to realize or manifest “who I am” in the imagined future.

What if it were that easy to change our life-long patterns?

What if we could ‘invent’ ourselves consistent with a vision that inspires us, a future that we look forward to, and a fulfilled life that maximizes the possibilities of health, happiness, creativity, love and a sense of being valued by others? If we can ‘invent’ ourselves, then growing older can be a source of joy right up to our last day.

© 2006 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Who am I?”

  1. I saw that you had dropped in on Late Life Crisis, Jim. Glad to have you as a visitor – especially since you are writing about late life perspectives.
    I like the above posting. Certainly we can reinvent ourselves as we move on through life. I have had five careers in the 84 years of my life. In each case I adapted to the situation. As a result, today I am not the person I was fifty years ago.
    And I like the present day Pete better than the previous ones.

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