Few individuals give any thought to the question, "Who am I?" Even when some personal crises strikes, rarely does anyone ask this critical question of themselves.

If pressured to come up with a verbal self-portrait, most would probably respond with a summary of what he/she believes, as well as what he/she has done in their lives.

If one chose to pursue this question with a list, it would probably start with descriptions of the physical self (man/woman), age (young/old), physical condition, where one lives, etc., etc. Such basics of our existence, really have little to do with the essence of who one is, however.

In actuality "Who am I," has more to do with what we believe, how our mind works, and our attitude toward life, etc., all of which are non-physical attributes of oneself. Since the advent of the "Scientific Attitude" toward what is considered, "reality" all of us have been Indoctrinated to focus on physical existence and the physical world, and to deny the existence, let alone the importance, of non-physical reality.

One example of this current focus is the saying, "He who dies with the most toys, wins!" This focus on materialism began to be dominant after World War II, with what came to be known as, "Keeping up with the Joneses."

With the current economic and political situation in the world, more and more individuals have been forced to reevaluate their lives, and question much of what they have been Indoctrinated to believe. In general, however, there is little encouragement to focus inward on the non-physical life of the self. Throughout much of human history, religion has played the dominant role of dictating what one's inner-life should consist of, essentially, that you are to believe what the Church you are affiliated with tells you to believe.

So, where to even begin? I have been conducting a one-woman crusade to the effect that, in a search to discover who you are, it is necessary to learn what it is you believe. I maintain that the source of much of human problems, personal and otherwise, can be found in what is believed to be true about oneself and, "reality."

To proceed, to discover anything about oneself, it must be, at least tentatively, accepted that each of us has been Programmed and Indoctrinated throughout our lives to believe what we believe. This I call our, "Personal Belief Systems." From the beginning of our physical existence, until we begin to be, "educated," we are subject to being Programmed to believe everything those who are a part of our family and culture believes, even if contradictory.

Later, when we are enrolled in any kind of classes--Sunday Bible School, Kindergarten, Preschool, and such--the serious Indoctrination as to what we are expected to believe and how we are to behave begins.

Unfortunately, most of our early experiences have been forgotten/repressed, and hard to recover. But, starting with our earliest memories, probably most will discover that wanting to spend any amount of time in solitude was discouraged, whereas, physical activity was encouraged.

Another problem with trying to discover who you are, currently, is, especially if you are not single, or living alone, finding time to spend on discovering your inner, non-physical self will be difficult. I have made the suggestion elsewhere that a good way to begin is to start Journaling. It is an interesting fact that the unconscious will frequently release information as one is writing.

Writing is also a good way to bring clarity to mental activity. Mostly individuals thoughts are muddled, and quickly forgotten, so writing them down is a way to hold onto them to review, and bring more clarity, not only to what one is feeling, but in thinking in general. Additionally, if bothered by a problem, or social situation, writing about them can clarify one's real feelings about the situation.

Paramount to getting to know oneself, is the need to have time alone, and not involved in various activities which are designed to keep you from getting to know who you are, and learning how to think about one's life.

Keep reminding yourself that the endeavor to discover who you are is not going to happen without effort. What is learned can be very rewarding in many ways, not the least of which is learning to understand why you do what you do, and think in the ways you think..

Author's Bio: 

My self-educational background has been in learning, and writing about, why people do what they do. My educational background includes the study of established Belief Systems in the field of Psychology, ranging from Freudian theory through Abraham Maslow's work on fully-functioning individuals, as well as Art. My BA is in Human Services, and my Masters is in Art Therapy--MA-AT.

In the 1970's I wrote a manuscript, (unpublished) called: You in the Process of Becoming; A Guide to the Self. In it I outlined a systems approach to understanding human behavioral dis-functioning. My current writing and thinking is an outgrowth of the understanding that, if an individual wishes to be able to think, "critically," i.e., originally, clearly and without contamination from Consensus Belief Systems, it is essential for that individual to thoroughly understand their own underlying Belief System.

This approach can be used in understanding an individual's problems in dealing with everyday situations and problems in relationships. In discovering how one's underlying beliefs shape personal behavior, and examining where those beliefs came from, can do much to change the resultant behavior.

You can access my blog at http://www.ruminationsonresponsibilities.blogspot.com/