Identity theft is a major crime in our high tech world but there’s another identity crisis that continues to claim victims every day. People, young and old are living beyond their means, dressing inappropriately, piercing and tattooing their bodies, experimenting with drugs, associating with people of questionable characters and known criminal histories and living and dying by the gun. As a society we have lost our own personal identities. Without a sense of who we are as individuals, we are doomed to be mindless followers, copycats and look-alikes.
Are you asking, “How do I find my identity, claim it and live it boldly? Your answers to the following question can start you on the road to being who you really are.
1. What are my core values?
Your spiritual beliefs, the people and things that really matter to you and those you can’t live without all make up your core values and they help to define who you are.
You might be able to regurgitate a mouthful of spiritual beliefs, yet they don’t impact your life in a meaningful way. They are just words, theories, pie-in-the-sky ramblings that make you acceptable in a particular group. Of course unless what you purport to believe cuts at your heart and transforms you, it is an attempt at conformity.
Core values also include the qualities you practise, expect from people around you and believe that you can’t live without. They might include honesty, faithfulness, punctuality, dependability and so on. When people show scant courtesy for these qualities and practices, you are displeased and even angered because you see them as admirable character traits.
2. What are my strengths?
Pinpointing your strengths is a major step to determining how you will proceed on a particular course of action.
What learned skill, natural gift or acquired talent helped you make a wise decision or accomplish a significant goal? Was it your ability to analyze a situation, assess a person or think quickly on your feet? Have you exhibited organizational skills, a keen sense of style or an eye for detail?
If your strengths served you in the past, they can serve you again. They are strengths you can be thankful for and claim as part of the structure of your identity.
Most often, it is far easier for other people to notice your strengths. What positive comments did they make? What qualities did they identify as being not only unique but an asset?
3. What are my weak areas?
I paraphrase part of a quote from the movie, Maid in Manhattan – What defines us is not the number of times we fall, but how often we get up after we have fallen.
What sets us apart from someone else is how willing we are to accept that we have weaknesses or we have made a mistake, how we embrace the lessons we learn and how effectively we use those lessons to help us to live lives that honour and enhance who we are.
Your weaknesses define you only as you learn from them and the lessons make you a better person. Because like everyone else, your life is a work in progress, some of your weaknesses may follow you throughout your life but they can be managed. Diligently work to turn them into strengths or stepping stones each time they cause you to fall or fail. Dig through the pain, disappointment and embarrassment for the lessons that will help you to understand who you are because of and in spite of your weaknesses.
4. What do I fear?
What you fear hinders you from pursuing paths you only dream of. It hovers over you like a dark foreboding cloud during a hurricane. It keeps you stuck in a cycle of hopelessness.
However, when you know and understand your fears, your can mine them for their value and inhibit their power over you. Then the fulfilled and purposeful life you long for and the dreams you crave will loom with possibilities and beckon you to approach and achieve them.
Call up your fears one by one and deal with them effectively once for all. Sometimes certain fears stubbornly linger even after you have wrestled power from them. But that’s all right. Life is not perfect. Eventually they will fade into the background as you settle into your identity, take risks, accomplish goals and your confidence grows.
5. What is my passion?
Sometimes it takes the discovery of an inner passion to open your eyes to the kind of person you are.
What comes to mind when you think of your passion? It may be old and hidden under the baggage of your life experiences. Or, it may be a relatively new discovery. Define it; create a vision of its reality; feel the passion. There you will see your true identity – the person with the dream and the passion to pursue it.
I admire people who are comfortable and confident in their own skins, who stand like a rock despite ridicule from others and the battering storms of life. They have scars from wounds they have suffered and no doubt, they will acquire many more. I have mine too and some sit on the surface of still tender wounds I sustained in my battle against the demands to discard my identity and lose myself in the concept of what others envisioned for me. I’m not perfect, I am me, core values intact, cognizant of my strengths, weaknesses and fears and my passions deep and strong.
Who are you? Are you drowning in the sea of sameness just to be accepted? Are you afraid to be yourself? Do you know who you are? Life is short. Claim your identity and live it boldly.