Who Are You?
There are so many forces working to turn us into someone we do not want to be. I still vividly remember the day that I realized I was turning into someone I didn’t like. My behaviors, goals, and conversations did not reflect the man I had always hoped to become. They certainly did not reflect the man my mother had hoped I would be when she migrated to this country of education and opportunity.
That profound realization was enough to shock me into taking a different approach to how I interacted with others, conversed with others, and generally behaved in relationships. But, with the world in continuous change, conflict, and fear, are you turning into someone you do not want to be?
Please let me help you figure this out. Get a piece of paper and write our your various identities. All of us have identities that makeup who we are and what we value most. Some are assigned to us, and others we choose. For example;
- I am a father
- I am a man
- I am a man of color
- I am a husband
- I am a grandfather
- I am a foster grandfather
- I am a musician
- Write out as many identities as you can think of in 1-2 minutes in no particular order. Go ahead and do this now before going further.
- Then review the list and see if something important to you needs to be added.
- Next, circle the top 2 or 3 identities on the list that are most important to you. There is no right or wrong, just what is personal to you. On my list, being a father is going to be among my top identities. It is important to create the list now before reading further, and DO NOT worry about prioritizing the entire list.
Because we fail to think about Identity Priorities and how it relates to the way we show up day today, we all run the risk of experiencing Identity Dissonance (IDiss). IDiss is when we behave, converse and make decisions that are contrary to our Identity Priorities. For example, if one of my top priorities is that of a “father,” then why would I put something like political affiliation ahead of my relationship with my children? We exist in a world that wants us to fight over mask versus no-mask or right versus left, or mandate versus no mandate, etc. Consequently, our brains are primed to see people of different opinions not as an opportunity to understand but to oppose. We do not seek to grow; we seek to cancel. We do not seek to embrace diversity; we seek to villanize non-conformity.
While all of this is occurring, we are training our brains to show up in ways that are contrary to who we really want to be. Before we know it, external forces like social media, some of our “friends,” and news sources have turned us into a person of stress, conflict, and bitterness. Instead of being part of the solution, we have become part of the problem, and it changes the way our brains think and perceives the world.
Before it is too late, check your reflection. When you look in the mirror, do you see the person you have always wanted to become; a person of compassion, seeking to understand others and eager to improve our humanity? Then, look at how you are showing up in your interactions with others. Does it look like civility and learning, or does it look like conflict and blaming?
It is not too late to think about and articulate your Identity Priorities. It is not too late to use those priorities to determine how to avoid Identity Dissonance. It is not too late to start showing up in our conversations in a way that reflects the person we have always wanted to be, A person of compassion, understanding, and civility. A person who is part of the solution and not part of the problem.
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