It’s an exercise I’ve conducted three separate times. First as a trial during a brunch I hosted in my home, next while facilitating a session during an annual conference I attend, and finally at my women’s workshop this last fall.
Every single time I’ve asked this, some women have cried, others stopped dead in their tracks and searched themselves for any plausible answer, and still more struggled to find one to fit the criteria.
The question is a simple one to ask, but as you’ll see, it’s the answer that can be difficult, to cultivate.
Tell me one thing about yourself that makes you ‘you’, aside from your role in being a wife and/or mother.
We all have many characteristics that define who we are; feelings that add up to our sense of self. While all of them are valid; some can be healthy, i.e. “helpful”, while others may be destructive, such as “worthless” – all are part of the cumulative narrative of our lives.
The reason the question is phrased the way it is, is to encourage the participant to dig deeper than classic ready responses. For every human being on the planet, we are all fully whole on our own; and for we women, who so often tend to lose our previous identifiers once we become wives and mothers, I feel it is especially important to connect to them as a reminder of the fact that we, all on our own, no matter our relationship to anyone else, are whole people.
To be non-gender biased, this happens with men, too. By nature we tend to take our roles and use them as descriptors for who we are, i.e. “I’m a doctor”, or “I’m a lawyer”, etc.. I once heard a comedienne say that when people ask him what he does he likes to respond with things like, “eat, sleep, breathe. Why, what do you do?” It’s the same standard, those roles we step into over time tend to become how we see ourselves.
The danger in this is when we forget to remember that we’re more than just a doctor, or lawyer, or wife, or mother. While all of these are valid, they’re not the whole picture. A paycheck or your relationship to someone else should never fully define who you are to your core.
Maybe you’re a dancer, even though you’ve never had any lessons or performed on a stage. Maybe your an author who just hasn’t been published yet. Maybe you’re the country’s best beat boxer, but you’re too timid to show your skills to others. Maybe you’re a world adventurer on a budget too tight to allow for travel. You can be anything. It’s up to you.
The importance of continuing to cultivate a strong and healthy sense of self over time is essential to prolonged happiness.
So, I ask you, to search your heart and soul, to look deep down inside yourself, and to tell me: what is one thing that makes you who you are?
Join the discussion by leaving a comment.
Tell me: What’s one thing that make you, you?