Who are you
When I talk about personal transformation, many people are assailed with the fear of losing themselves, or at least the person they think they are. These people identify themselves with their status, their profession, their needs, their emotions and their behaviour, their personality. The idea of transforming one of these elements scares them. “I won’t be me any longer”, they say. So thinking about “who I am”, can help change perspective and overcome the fear of transformation.
Start by asking yourself: “Who am I?” Consider this question. What could be the result of your reflections?
You’re not your name. A name is a label which we traditionally give ourselves to distinguish ourselves from others. You’re not your profession, either, because would that mean that in other times in your life – when you were a student, if you change jobs or when you’re retired – you’re no longer you?
The issue for many managers and entrepreneurs today is that very problem of identifying themselves so much with their profession and the status that it reflects that they lose their identity when they lose their jobs or the privileges of a certain position. I have worked with many top managers and CEOs who couldn’t change their life the way they really wanted because they couldn’t recognise themselves in another role or with a lower income. As if what you are and what you are worth could be based on another label, that of your profession. Many people build themselves a cage – often it’s a golden one – within which they perpetuate ad infinitum a version of themselves which doesn’t satisfy them or doesn’t make them happy. It shows by some of the illnesses they develop related to blood pressure, heart, circulation and digestive system.
Your identity, however, is not the activity or profession you’re engaged in at this particular moment.
Perhaps you’re starting to see how deep reflecting on who you are can be.
You are not the body you see in the mirror, because the body you see and the face you see are completely different at different times throughout your life. So who looked in the mirror, and who is looking today? Of course, it’s always you who is looking, in a continuum of the being. It’s you who looks at and experiences the external objects around you. You look at and experience the objects inside you too, if we consider thoughts the emotions as objects. In this case, because you are the subject, you can’t be the object, you’re not any of those objects inside or outside of you which constantly demand your attention.
So you’re not your job, your gym membership card or the role of husband or parent. And you’re not your emotions just as you’re not your thoughts. All the internal and external objects come and go and are just objects you’re aware of. But who are you? Who is it who experiences and is aware of these objects?
If you keep reflecting on the question, you’ll notice that you have a specific quality. The quality is awareness, the consciousness of existing. And you exist with or without thoughts, with or without memories, with or without “labels”. There are illnesses which deprive us of our body, but even without the use of our arms and legs we are aware we exist. There are traumas to the brain which prevent us from remembering our past, but even in these cases there is the awareness of existing. Awareness is pure consciousness.
It is you who listens and notices. If you listen to something, that something isn’t you. If you notice something, you are not that something. You are the observer. The realisation that you are the observer is often the first step towards personal transformation.
Personal tranformation starts with recognising that you are the one observing, and not the one being observed. It then continues with a deeper understanding of this “observer” and with learning how to access this state more and more often.