To start taking responsibility for ourselves requires getting to know who we are.

We take much for granted in our lives; the part we take most for granted is ourselves--who we are as individuals, and what we stand for, (believe in).

The vast majority of what we believe, we have been Indoctrinated/Programmed to believe. We literally live and die according to those beliefs. Therefore, in order to begin to take responsibly for our own lives, and discover, "who we are," we must discover what we believe.

The Indoctrination and Programming starts even before we are born. It has been established that the fetus is bombarded with everything that is happening to its Mother. The emotional state of the Mother is the environment we experience. That environment begins to Program us by giving us our beliefs about how safe we feel in our little world; whether or not we are wanted and desired as an addition to our potential family, etc., etc.

When we are born we arrive, not only in an established emotional environment of a family, but we arrive in a physical world with established norms and expectations. These norms and expectations are the Belief Systems of the family and the cultural and social groups to which they belong.

This Programming and Indoctrination continues throughout our lives, progressing from the early family environment to what we are taught in schools while, "getting an education." All of our "education" is Indoctrination into established Consensus Belief Systems. What we are taught, we are conditioned to believe are, "Facts of Life," in the form of History, as well as various fields of, "knowledge," and professional and/or vocational training.

The extreme form of this Programming/Indoctrination is becoming an, "Expert" at something. Being an "Expert" has been defined by an anonymous wag as, "Someone who has learned more and more about less and less, until they know absolutely everything about nothing." Becoming an, "Expert," requires one to have self-indoctrinated themselves into a particular branch of "knowledge/information" through investment of time and energy. The more you have invested in accumulating your Belief System the greater fight you will put up to keep it in place as Absolute Truth.

Every individual is shaped by the Belief Systems into which they are born, and take them on as givens/facts/truth/reality. Unless we deliberately choose to explore what we have been Programed and Indoctrinated to believe, our Beliefs will continue to control who we are, and what we will do, our entire lives, as well as when, "push comes to shove."

The very first step that must be taken in beginning to understand who we are as individuals, is to explore what we have been Programmed and Indoctrinated to believe. A recent saying that is floating around the social commons is, "Thinking outside the box." The "Box" is made up of your personal Belief System, either in a specific area, or in general.

Creative people are those who are able, in one aspect or another of their lives, to "think/create" outside the general Programing of what is correct and proper, and has been done before.

For myself, examining what I believed, (was Indoctrinated/Programmed to believe) took a long time and effort, because, as stated, we do not know what we believe. Only when our beliefs are challenged in some way, do many fundamental beliefs make themselves obvious. We can tell how strongly held a particular belief is by how emotional we become over what is a challenge to a belief.

Starting a Journal, in which you can write down anything that has brought up strong feelings, is a good way to begin to examine one's beliefs.

Without beginning to examine what you believe, when you start out, determined to discover just who you are, and to take responsibility for yourself, you will only base your examination on your Indoctrinated/Programmed beliefs, because that is with what the vast majority of individuals, "think."

Not only everyone, but everything has a belief system! That means that all aspects of any system are interconnected and mutually supporting; most are made up, in whole or in part, of other related belief systems, which have been built up over time. Anything that does not fit into that system is, usually, automatically rejected as false, or in error in some way.

Once you begin to look at what you believe, and why you believe it, you will probably find that other beliefs are feeding into that examined belief.

To start out, you can try to stop taking what you hear, read, have been taught, what you have been told are "facts," at face value. In other words, question everything! Big job!

Our beliefs, which we have accepted as, "truth," "facts," "reality," etc., etc., control our lives and how we behave in our relationships, and with everyone else with whom we interact. For most people, along with habits, they control what we do, or do not do, every minute of every day, in other words, "who we are."

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: