What defines us? Such a brief set of words put together to form a question that carries with it such depth and contemplation.
The complexity of how we impose meaning to ourselves and our existence is quite amazing! There more than likely are as many different responses to the question of how we define ourselves as there are people who contemplate the question itself.
And, I imagine that if we think about it long and hard enough to come up with an answer of how we define ourselves, that the answer is changes based on how we feel, think and perceive our lives at the time. It is something that transitions as we develop at different times in our lives.
I also have to wonder how many people live their entire lives and never really give this much of a thought whatsoever (although I have to say I have a hard time connecting with people who never care at all about such things.)
On the other hand, I don’t think it is the type of thing that we should plague ourselves with either. It follows the same type of thinking as what you might say if you were to write your own eulogy. Or even more concisely, what you would choose to say on your tombstone….almost like a life’s mission statement.
I know there are things that matter very much in my life. Some of these things matter more than other and as I stated earlier, these things change over time, either becoming more important or maybe even having mattered very much once, but losing significance – maybe not even mattering at all anymore.
The question then becomes do the things that matter to me very strongly define me? And I have to say that although it may feel that way much of the time, it is not what defines me.
I know many people who act as if the things they have define them. My sister remembers when and where she purchased each and every single article of clothing she owns. She can also catalog where she has worn the item and maybe even how much she paid for it. But if I could ever get her to think it through (she doesn’t really go into heavy philosophical issues much) she most likely would not say that her material possessions define her.
Our family of origin is a huge piece of how we become who we are – we obtain our “title” or name here – something we link to our definition – but I don’t think we “ARE” our family of origin or our family history. It is where we come from, which is a piece of our existence, but not the definition of who we are.
I may actually have to face this over time – where I’m not pushing at an answer but rather letting one evolve. I have been feeling more of an acceptance with things like this as I age. The me of a while ago would probably harp on this until I came up with something I could convince myself was a definitive answer.
But now I know that would be a delusion – something I refer to as ‘misthinking.’ I may even end up accepting the fact that I might not know the answer to this one – boy oh boy, is that ever a change from the me of a while ago who felt the need to be able to understand and come up with an answer to “everything.”
I guess, for now, I’m okay with just forming the question and getting this far on it – – –
I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!