The question, “Who am I?” has the potential of being a very dangerous question to those of us on the ‘improving our lives’ path. Why? Because of the basics of how the mind works: if a question is put to it, it will answer it–even if it has to invent an answer.
If you ask, “Why do I always fail?”, your mind will answer. “Because you’re an idiot who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” “Because your mother told you that you would.” “Because your father was a failure.” “Because your father was a great man and how could you possibly walk in his shoes?”
You can reframe that question to, “Why do I always succeed at what I do?” Your mind will answer. “Because you don’t stop until it’s done.” “Because you’re smart, and you can figure anything out.” “Because you’re a bulldog–you don’t let go until you get what you want.”
Do you see the difference?
But I’m having a problem with this. “Who am I?” should not be a bad question–unless the answers I’m getting back are not what I want to hear. When that happens, I fall into the “what you resist persists” rabbit-hole. “What you focus on, you will get.” “We become what we think about most.” So how to reframe this question so that it empowers me? That’s difficult because it is such a basic question. Or how can I stop asking the question at all?
But should I?
When it comes to changing our lives, some of us view ourselves as so screwed up that we don’t know where to start. So we run in circles, in overwhelm mode, and end up not making any changes. Or even worse, we can’t think of a specific change to make, because we’re finding it difficult to get down below the global level to the specific, core-level beliefs, rules, and values that need adjustment.
For me, I have an answer.
A thought came to me that I know I’ve had before, but I haven’t paid attention to it: “I don’t like the answers I get when I ask, ‘Who am I?’. So why don’t I use the answers to make some changes?” This may seem elementary to most of you, but for me, it was a profound question. The concept is helping me clarify with precision the changes that I need to make in order for me to be comfortable with the answer to “Who am I?”
So in addition to asking, “Who am I?”, I ask, “Who do I want to be?”. The contrast in answers shows me what area I need to work on. But I don’t spend a lot of time pondering. I use the first answer that I get. Why? It is that answer that is at the forefront of my consciousness. It is what is most important to me at that particular time. It’s what I’m focusing on. So that is what I’ll continue to focus on.
I am, though, using multiple “Why?” questions to move closer to the root belief that I must change. When I determine that a change needs to be made, I’ll keep asking, “Why do I think this way?”, or maybe just, “Why?” to the answers I get. This helps me better identify what I need to work on at that time.
Then I can use NLP techniques, or EFT, or some other technology to effect the change. The technology doesn’t matter, as long as it works and the changes last, and you follow the same basic success formula:
- know what you want
- take action
- notice whether it’s working
- change your approach if necessary
The very important thing that I’ve done here is this: I’ve clarified what I want. What is the outcome I want? In the past, I’ve been fuzzy about this, and changes haven’t come.