In our society this question becomes extremely important around Middle School. After a decade or so, it evens out to some semblance of habit, and after mid-life it may become important again as one examines one’s “scorecard”. If you think past the roles you play in society: mother, father, child, teacher, breadwinner, caregiver, etc. and delve into that more personal aspect of yourself, you enter a fascinating area of existentialism that takes experience and imagination to navigate.
Where does the “you” of you reside? Psychologists dissect the mind like it is a lab rat: here is the Ego, the Id, the Subconscious…but where are they? Will your Ego show up on an MRI? If science cannot see or detect the you that is you, do you exist? Descartes’ famous words apply: You think, therefore You must exist. But how are your thoughts, YOU?
Your body is what you eat, You are what you think.
You are familiar with self-doubt, and perhaps you have observed the changes that occur when you move from thinking, “I can’t do that” to “I think I can” to “I know I can”. Hopefully some readers will remember the story of the little train that could. Everyone who has ever accomplished something wonderful had to start the process with the belief that it would happen.
Your collection of beliefs about you and your world define You. Thankfully these beliefs are fluid and swirl about in complex patterns. All it takes is one thought to change a belief. Sometimes you have to think that thought many times to change the liquid pattern that is your Self, but it can be done, and with no more effort than it takes to decide what you want from a menu at your favorite restaurant. If you imagine the fingerprint of your Self as a fractal, and then imagine the pattern as a physical manifestation of the mathematical equation, then your thoughts are the numbers plugged into the algorithm. Change a thought and the whole pattern changes.
Now imagine how quickly your thoughts dart through your mind every moment of your day, and you can imagine that fractal in motion. How beautiful you are!
The first step to really knowing yourself, is to be aware of that input. Slow down and capture those thoughts. Realize that every second they are programming your Self. Try an experiment: capture a thought as it whizzes by (chose one you WANT to change) and replace it with a more positive one. Do it all day and imagine how your fractal changes. Others will notice. Watch for that reflection in their behaviors. Fascinating.