Sunday, 18 March 2012

Who am I?

This may be self exploration or self indulgence. Either way it's a question I've been asking myself a lot recently.

I have a degenerative eye condition, my father died when I was young, my mother became an abusive alcoholic, I joined the military and as a result the people I formed the closest relationships with in my life are now dead. Does any of this tell me who I am?

I am married to an incredible and beautiful woman, I have a job I love most of the time for which I am paid very well. I have a mortgage and life is very secure. Does any of this tell me who I am?

I am very intelligent, more intelligent than most, often in my life I have had to insult myself, dumb myself down or even invent lies about mistakes I've made in order to prevent people around me feeling threatened by my intelligence. If you do this long enough you start to believe the lie you make for yourself and this leads to chronic low self esteem and confidence indirectly knocking down your assertiveness. As a plus everyone I know in life and work always refer to me as a "really nice guy". Is this who I am?

How do I find the answers? And why do I feel I can't be truly happy until I know?

1 comment:

Vincent said...

You have asked some big questions here, Asclepius. For me, it's irresistible to plunge in and answer you without a pause for thought.

It seems to me that "I" is the adaptation of the subjective consciousness to the circumstances into which it is flung. It's clear that the human being starts life without the responsibility for its actions which it later acquires.

It learns to adapt, however successfully or not. As you indicate, one of the biggest traps in life is belief, and the most sticky trap is the belief in one's own lies.

But the lies of which we are aware are the least dangerous lies.

It seems to me that in this point of your life, asking "Who am I?" is part of the endless adaptation of the self to the circumstance it finds itself in. I feel that your verdict on the effect on believing your own lies is not just true but extends much wider: that all neurosis and much physical illness is the body's reaction to an "I" which lacks self-awareness. It believes its own lies and the lies foisted upon it by the world in which it moves.

So it is true that I must know myself, and cannot be truly happy until I know.

I think the answer lies in the relationship I have with my own senses, emotions and half-buried impulses. It needs to be closer. Whereas the products of my imagination - my beliefs and judgements - need to be treated with scepticism, kid gloves and sometimes even a long barge-pole.

I'd be the last person to recommend any "how-to" approach, as I seem to have spent most of my seventy years making crass mistakes which took decades to disentangle from. I think it was a very good way to learn, but could hardly recommend it to others!