Just Who Do You Think You Are, Anyway?

By Irene Conlan –

“Just Who do you think you are, anyway?” This may be a phrase you have heard hurled at you in anger or one that you have hurled at someone else. Putting the anger aside, it’s a great question. Who are you? Who do you think you are?

We generally identify ourselves according to what we do.

Women in particular define themselves as a mother or a wife. When the children fly the coop or for some other reason are no longer home some women lose all sense of identity. They have the “empty nest syndrome.” and some go into deep depression. Their entire identity was centered on a child. Or if their husband dies or divorces them they are left stunned and without identity.

Men identify with their job. In answer to the question, “Who are you?” they respond:  I’m a banker, a mechanic, a policeman, an attorney, a web developer, a bail bondsman, a carpenter, a home builder, etc. When they retire or lose their job or their business some have no idea who they are anymore.

Some of us identify with our country of origin” I’m an American or a Brit, or a Canadian, or a German. Some are African-Americans, Mexican-Americans or another hyphenated American.

What if you were stripped of ALL titles – all job, ethnic, geographical, political, religious, gender specific or other labels stripped off? Sitting naked in the middle of an empty room, who would you be?

Who am I?  Does it change or does just my understanding of it change? John Lennon said, “Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.John Lennon Do we all have identity swings like that? Which is closest to reality?

Where do I start in learning who I am? Do I read book about self image/self concept? Do I seek counseling and/or guidance?Do I ask my friends what they see in me and know about me? Do I ask my parents?


But the most true and realistic thoughts about yourself and who you are will come from you – you are the only one who has access to the wealth of information about you.

My recommendation?

Sit quietly in meditation with the question “Who am I?” Ask it repeatedly and relax with it. If you are not a meditator then simply do this. Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Take several deep breaths making the exhalation a few seconds longer than the inhalation. Relax. Let your thoughts dwell on something soothing and relaxing for a few moments. and then ask yourself the question, “Who am I.” Sit  quietly for 5 – 10 minutes in expectation of an answer. Do this on a regular daily basis until you begin to get some information. The information may not come during the time of your sitting quietly. It may flit through your mind when you least expect it – while you’re at work, at a ballgame, watching TV, etc. Something you see, on a billboard, for example, might trigger an inner response. Something you see on TV, even in a commercial, might give you an “Aha” moment.

By the inquiry ‘Who am I?’. The thought ‘who am I?’ will destroy all other thoughts, and like the stick used for stirring the burning pyre, it will itself in the end get destroyed. Then, there will arise Self-realization. Sri Ramana Maharshi

My own personal “Aha” came when I realized I was not just a human machine but a “spiritual being having a physical experience.” This identity has shifted and grown as my own self awareness and awareness of the Universe has expanded. For me the concept of being a spiritual being key and began to put everything else in perspective.

Your great adventure will be to find you own key that unlocks the secret of who you truly are. Be patient. Give it time. It will be one of the richest and valuable adventures you can take.

Some resources to help you on your trip:

I: Reality and Subjectivity. David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., Veritas Publishing, Sedona,AZ. 2003
Happiness Now:Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FAST.  Robert Holden, Ph.D., Hay House, Inc., 2007.

  • Hi Irene .. thanks for this post .. probably what I need now .. & thanks for the simple reminder about starting to meditate & to guide our thoughts in the relevant direction.

    Thanks to for the self creation website .. which I’ll look at ..


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