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Who am I?

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

First off, kudos to you if you read the above title in the voice of Eddie Murphy playing Mushu in the movie Mulan. This is a very complex question for which there often is no clear answer. There

is an amazing scene in the movie Anger Management that illustrates this conundrum. In it, Adam Sandler's character, Dave, is being introduced to Buddy's group (Buddy played by Jack Nicholson), and is being asked the "simple" question of "who are you?" Dave gives several attempts at an answer, including his job, and several personal attributes, each time being

corrected that this is not the desired answer. I have also played this particular game in group settings and watch as each person falls into the same trap. What is the trap, you ask? The trap is in falling for the correction. When a person answers the above question, they make their first attempt at describing themselves. The problem is when someone tells them that their answer isn't good enough and they change the answer! Why do we do this? Anxiety is the most common answer, coupled with a primitive need for attachment security. What in the heck are you talking about, Matt? Well, I will be happy to tell you. As animals in the animal kingdom, especially as mammals, even more so as primates, we require a group collective for survival. None of us have very sharp claws (even when you put them on), or very sharp teeth, or have the best of eyesight (spoken by a four-eyes). We require cooperation within the collective to achieve our goals and secure survival just as so many other animals in our position.

So why do we question our identity with such anxiety? Much of the answer lies in our traumas. Have you ever needed to tell a lie about yourself so you wouldn't be judged? Have you ever changed your behavior, appearance, even speech, just so you wouldn't be ousted from the group? Have you been left out, left behind, forgotten, rejected and abandoned before? If you have, than you know what it is like to have to choose Attachment over Authenticity. This is the data that serves as proof for our anxious attachments. When we have had to neglect ourselves, hide ourselves away, lie to ourselves and another about who we are to save our connection, we invalidate ourselves and destroy our natural worth. If you have done this, you deserve to find peace in the truth of who you are, who you have always been, and who you would like to evolve into, and end the internal war between the Mask and the Truth.

So what's the point in having any identity at all then? Does it even matter? Thank you disembodied-voice, that is a great question. Those who know me, know I don't like to answer these big questions because I enjoy opportunities to have you decide for yourself. However, the short answer is yes, our identities are important. There are two purposes for our self-definition: sameness and differentness. Both of these are important to us, and it is important that these be maintained in balance with each other. First, the differentness is important because we are unique individuals with unique qualities, but especially we have unique needs that only we ourselves can truly know and understand. Therefore, it is our duty to understand ourselves so that we can meet our needs adequately. Secondly, our sameness is important because it lets us know to which "pack" we belong and where to get our needs met based on which collective is likely to have the best answer.

If you have no idea how to answer either of these points, don't worry. Find yourself someone who understands the problem who can help you find YOUR answers. If you feel lost, confused, abandoned, fake, tired of your crowd, ask for help. Find a therapist who can encourage you to live a life true to yourself and your values. Start taking back who you are and know that there is a place you belong, you just have to muster the courage to go find it.

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