Who Are You?
How do you answer that question: who are you?
Most people will respond by stating their name or their occupation. Why, my name is Joseph, I am an entrepreneur—as if that somehow explained who or what you are. Your name and what you do are general the two strongest identifiers. We’ve all heard the boring repetitive questions at cocktail parties, “what’s your name” … “so what do you do for a living.” But is that really who or what you are?
The story then goes on further, as you use it to describe your personality. I’m a people person, or I am shy. I enjoy reading, but am bad at math. You are a compilation of memories slapped onto a single present moment — the Now — used to define who you are.
You couldn’t even recognize your name until many months after birth or your time in your womb, so certainly your doesn’t adequately describe you. And surely you were something before you started your career in your youthful years, so clearly is something more. So what are you then?
The Most Powerful Statement
“I am” is the single most powerful statement you can make. It is a direct statement to the rest of the universe of who you are and what you represent. Those statements then are then fueled to continue your story and shape your consequential experiences and expectations going forward. This is what is known as confirmation bias in psychology, and there have been loads of studies demonstrating these expectations shape the reality you experience.
Confirmation bias in a nutshell is the tendency we use confirm our believes and hypothesis of self. This can be done by cherry picking and selecting information for your self-conception, or interpreting in a biased way towards your bliefs. The results are you create your own reality in which you experience.
You quite literally become what you think about all day, so the question then becomes, what do you think about? I’d like to analyze this from two ways:
1) A practical standpoint (because I recognize that all readers might not connect with my views on spirituality)
2) A spiritual standpoint (because it’s my blog and I run the show here, so, yeah)
Confirmation bias shows that we use our concepts and ideas of self to play out our future experiences and expectations. Whatever you think about yourself, your right! A recent study published looked at the one key difference between those who were good at math, and those who struggled. We’ve all heard the statement “I’m not a math person.” Math gets lumped into that category of something you either have it or you don’t more so than any other subject.
What the study lead to show is that inborn talent is much less important than hard work and preparation. By shifting the students mindset from “math is either something you were born with or you weren’t” to “this is something you can obtain with hard work and diligence” had profound effects on how the students scored.
The story that you tell yourself and most readily believe becomes played out into your active experience. What the study showed is unborn talent is much less important than hardwork and preparation. Your will to shape yourself has a much stronger effect than whatever inborn characteristics you may have convinced yourself of possessing over the years.
Think of how you let this play out in your own life. I have a brother who constantly tells himself that he is not a people person, whatever that means. This “I am” statement then leads to future expectations when meeting and confronting new people. By thinking of yourself as not being a people person, your mind actively looks for situations to confirm those instances (confirmation bias) and those effects then become doubled-down to become your reality, and the cycle repeats.
Reversing The Effects
So here’s the good news: it plays both ways. Those self-affirmations that a lot of New Age thinkers tout might actually have a large effect on our personalities, and consequently, shaping our future experiences in life. Practicing gratitude becomes the best medicine there is. Why? Because you are showing thanks for an abundance in quality of something you already have. Thank you God/Allah/Buddha/Magic Toaster for my abundance of friends, my beautiful body, my financial security, and my sense of humor.
Not only do those statements make you feel good about yourself, but as the confirmation bias studies have shown, they play a large part in your future expectations for experiences you expect to have. You then look for those instances to confirm your confirmation bias, and the cycle repeats. Viewing yourself as an outgoing person will lead you to become more outgoing in future interactions, even if you used to regard yourself as a bit shy. Don’t think of it as faking it till you make it, but rather as instilling it as a part of your life until it becomes your reality. I’ve witnessed this in my own life, as I slowly became an extrovert over the years. Your will to change is way more powerful than any self-born traits and characteristics you may have convinced yourself over the years as having.
But what happens when you have years of compounded negative thinking, and it becomes a struggle to change the effects?
You must begin by shifting the paradigm of how these thoughts originate. Thought is the root level of where these concepts of self emerge. Thoughts played out become words—the powerful statement “I am.” Words in motion then become action. Thoughts lead to words lead to actions.
To reverse the effects, then, you have to start at the end of the paradigm with the action. In the example used above, this is the action of physically going up and talking to a stranger, letting the words between your conversation become the vehicle of your experience, and the ventilating the residue from those actions and words into your thoughts as “I am an outgoing person. I enjoy being social.”
But this has bigger implications to me. That’s just one way of analyzing confirmation bias and how it plays out our experiences in reality, but what I find more compelling are those associations with spirituality. If these views of self are used to shape our personality, what’s to say they stop there? Why limit your beliefs of self to being ‘I am social’ or ‘I’m good at math’ when they could be about, well, anything.
In my life, I see this as a harmony with all life, energy, and matter. I see a mountain and recognize hey, that’s me! I am that thing. I am a congruent part of that reality and it all exists, here at this present moment, within me. I am the depth of the cosmos, the explosive basin of supernovas, and the single white grain of sand lying on a beach. I am all that, and more.
My brain cells are constructed like the Universe, and both are seemingly congruent with the shape of my eyes. The so called “windows of the soul” are just that—a glimpse into the Oneness and reality we all share. Have you ever stopped throughout the day and looked at images from Hubble and thought, wow, I’m a part of that! And more importantly, that’s all a part of me.
Your statements of who you are is much more than a personality. Again, think back to the question asked at the beginning—who are you? Your response must be screamed from the highest mountains, whispered in the lowest corridors, and played out in every instantiation of your waking existence. It is a direct statement to the Universe of this is who I am and this is what I represent.
You are NOT a name, you are NOT an occupation, you are MORE than what you could possible conceive! Re-write your I am statement to be simply that. I am.
Thanks for reading, I’ve been receiving a lot of emails and Facebook messages lately about my blog, and I appreciate all the encouragment you have given me in pursuing my passions and learning life’s lessons. As always Facebook shares and ReTweets are greatly appreciated. Feel free to add your email in the box below if you would like to be included on my mailing list for personalized material I’m in the works of making. Cheers.