Who Are You? It’s Mostly Who You Think You Should Be!

I am a great lover of motivational videos. Thought provoking episodes that go deep into our human existence of who we really are, or more to the point, who we think we are. The search for the  genuine self is one that many embark on during their lives and for many it remains an elusive prize.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to discover one’s true self”

Carl Jung.

We are generally conditioned to believe that we should be a certain way, conforming to the ideas of  “normal”, given to us by society, parents, schools and relationships we find ourselves in. In the video below, it states that we are what our parents think we should be and that is often true. Children are often taught in a way that resolves the parent’s issues with themselves or are never allowed to go through a natural separation process. It states that we are who our school or university says we should be. Education is a vital ingredient of growing into adulthood but curriculums are often slanted towards the corporate and political whims and needs of the age. Carl Rogers was a loud critic of education in the US in the fifties. One such comment is highlighted here:

Rogers made significant contributions to the field of education with his theory of experiential learning. He maintained that all human beings have a natural desire to learn. Therefore, failure to learn is not due to the person’s inability to learn, but rather to problems with the learning situation.

To expand on those comments, we are also what our friends and partners expect us to be. How many of us have changed our principles to fit in with one group or another? The idea of  “false selves” in relationships is well known and we are very prone to be whoever we have to be to be in a relationship. Codependency is a great example of this.

Stephen Covey highlighted a change in societal mood in the US in the fifties. He stated that the so-called  “character ” ethic based on values and principles was replaced by a  “personality” ethic, based on selling oneself and basing progress on individual achievements. This was initiated by a string of early self-help books including the very famous range by Dale Carnegie. Many see this change as the main reason why rates of narcissism have risen sharply in the post war era, particularly amongst men. It seems everyone has a brand these days. As Covey stated:

Character Ethic focuses on foundational traits, including integrity, humility, hard work, loyalty, self-control, courage, justice, patience, modesty, and morality. Personality Ethic emphasises skills and practices that affect your public image, attitudes, and behaviours. This approach offers quick-fix solutions — how to be more charming, have a more positive outlook, make people like you, and influence people to do what you want and is more temporary but also manipulative.

Stephen Covey

The video in this post is counter to everything that we take for granted in today’s world. Much of that is driven by social media and the need to either  “fit in ” or find a niche scheme that will make money. The main element of the video is Jim Carrey talking about the need to find the  “real me”. Carrey, who has undergone a transformation in recent years, states that to find the real you,  “all other versions of you have to be killed off “, an obvious reference to false selves and personality manipulation. He should know as he has spent a career playing different versions of himself for an adoring audience though the new, more authentic Carrey is also appealing.

In another video, he states the reasons why we might find it hard to find who we genuinely are. Fear drives us all in our decision-making and how much we are willing to be different from the mainstream. He says quite rightly that  “we are just as likely to fail doing something we hate, so why not take a chance on doing something we love? “. Fear is often the glue that keeps societies together and anyone that doesn’t buy into this fear is seen as  “maverick “,  “different ” or  “difficult “. Who gets to set those rules and for what reason? Are we happy to go along like sheep, being told what we need to be?

None of the above really answers the question of finding a genuine self. It just tells us the reasons why it is difficult to find. I have also had this trouble throughout my life despite a rebellious streak that appeared at times but this was also not my genuine self. Being codependent, I have spent my life afraid of showing who I really am to anyone, fearing rejection and hurt. So I choose to be what I think I should be.

However, things are changing. I have been going through a transition over the last year and I feel more genuine than ever. This is based on the following factors, I have labelled The Path To Freedom:

  • Emotional honesty
  • Boundaries
  • Awareness of my codependency and enmeshment
  • Being aware of my ambitions and goals
  • Only helping when asked
  • Trying to be more of an individual
  • Conscious “in the moment thinking”
  • Dealing with codependent symptoms and anxiety.
  • Being aware of the 8 C’s.

On a deeper level, your genuine self illuminates the path forward to live the life you want. When you get clear on what matters to you, you make decisions that align with your identity and core values. You begin to build a life that brings you meaning and joy. In doing so, you inspire those around you to do the same. So the genuine you would be you:

  • Speaking your opinions honestly in a healthy way
  • Making decisions that align with your values and beliefs
  • Pursuing your passions
  • Listening to the positive inner voice guiding you forward
  • Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open-hearted
  • Setting boundaries and walking away from toxic situations
  • Being self-aware, self accepting and showing self-compassion
  • Taking responsibility
  • Being open-minded and valuing others

Your genuine self is who you truly are as a person, independent of your employment or the influence of others; it is an accurate reflection of who you are. Being real entails being unconcerned with what others think of you. This can occasionally result in you standing out from the crowd. Being genuine entails being true to oneself in one’s thoughts, words, and deeds. It entails being willing to give up any relationship, scenario, or condition that contradicts your truth

Dr. Nicholas Jenner

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychotherapist in online private practice working with individuals, couples and groups, dealing with codependency issues, severe depression, bipolar, personality disorders, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders and other mental health issues. He has been practicing online for many years and recognized early that online therapy was a convenient method for people to meet their therapist. Working outside the box, he goes that extra mile to make sure clients have access to help between sessions, something that is greatly appreciated. He also gives part of his spare time up to mentor psychology students in a university setting.

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