Who Am I?
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Apostle Paul, Bible, Romans 7:15,19)
George Gurdjieff (1877-1949): A person has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought every mood, every desire, every sensation says “I.” And in each case it seems to be taken for granted that this I belongs to the whole person, and that a thought, a desire, or an aversion is expressed by this Whole. In fact, a person’s every thought and desire appears quite separately and independently of the Whole. A person has no individual I. But there are, instead, hundreds of separate small I’s. Each person is a plurality. Each person’s name is legion.
Charles Tart, States of Consciousness: Ordinary consciousness may actually consist of a large number of identity states. All share some common traits, such as using the same language, wearing the same clothes, responding to the same name, occupying the same body.
Different identities define who people are in terms of the groups or categories to which they belong (social identities), the roles they occupy (role identities), and the personal characteristics they claim (person identities).
For example, an individual’s social identity as an American or an Australian is what it means to him or her to be an American or an Australian.
An individual’s role identity as a truck driver or a student is what it means to that individual to be a truck driver or a student.
An individual’s personal identity as a dominant person or a moral person is what it means to that individual to be dominant or moral.
The more important a role/identity is to a person, the more it is likely to provide a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
- What roles/identities have I liked best in my life (e.g., sibling, child, parent, employee, supervisor, professional, etc.)?
- Which roles/identities fit my personality?
- Which roles/identities have garnered greatest respect?
- Which roles/identities fit awkwardly?
- Which roles/identities was I glad to discard?
- What roles/identities do I have at this stage of life?
- What am I good at now? Better at than other people my age?
- What is winning in this stage of life? What makes me feel good about myself?