Do you really know who you are? Are you the best person to answer the question “Who am I?”
Have you ever thought or said:
“Well, they just don’t know who I am!”
“Wow, that was a nice compliment. I’ve never thought of myself that way before.”
“If you only knew what I was thinking right now…”
“You’re right, I would never treat a stranger that way.”
Let me flip the lens around. Have you ever watched a person walk away and thought:
“You have no idea! You just have no idea, do you?”
“I could really help them, if they would only let me.”
“Wow, if only I could get them to see their potential! They are really selling themselves short.”
“Do they know what a blessing they are to me?”
Sharing a deep love for history with my husband, we’ve had the opportunity to research and explore certain historical people in quite depth and detail. With my tendency to see things from a psychological perspective, I find myself often wondering how to put the often juxtaposed writings of the individual versus those written about them. You’ll read one account stating wonderful things about the figure in question, and then another equating them to the devil. When you read the various journals of these people, some have a deeply humble tone toward themselves and their abilities. Some are pretentious and you’d probably want to smack that person if you met them for being such arrogant snobs, excepting the fact that they really were talented and genius.
I ask again, do you really know who you are?
I’d like to introduce you to a lesson that I learned in fourth grade. I’ve been really fortunate to have some great thought provoking teachers. Mr. Hodgkins introduced me to a unique perspective that has greatly influenced me. It starts with a window.
You need to think of your “self” as a window with panes. What you see depends on where you are standing. When you view the image through the window, the perspective changes in each pane. To really get a grasp of the view, you need to step back and focus on the whole. If you spend too much time looking through just one pane, you get a truly distorted image. In fact, I don’t know too many people that spend their time looking through just one pane.
The view from the first pane is the view with which you are most familiar. Its the way you see yourself. Looking through this pane you see the depths of your soul. Through this pane, you feel your emotions at an intensity that often is only hinted to those around you. In this pane you may feel surrounded by chaos or you may be vibrant, brilliant and unshakeable. But this is not the only pane.
The view from the second pane is the view held by your closest friends and family. These people have a view of you that is likely closest to that of your own. Perhaps it is distorted because frustrations from your daily living creep into this pane causing you to “take it out” on your family and friends. But they love you through all of it. In this pane you are vulnerable and yet, for most, cherished. At least, that is my prayer for you. But this is not the only pane.
The view from the third and fourth panes are the views held by acquaintances and strangers. These people can have a very distorted understanding of your personal view of self. You may choose to present a shadow, an image or a posture. You may care deeply what these people think of you, or not care at all. It may be important to you to maintain a spotless pane or your pane maybe cracked from past actions and decisions. Again, this is not the only pane.
These views, separately, do not represent you. If you really want an accurate view, you need to step back and do your best to look through all of those panes. Now, as a believer, I do believe in a Creator that made me with intention. It is my belief that only this Creator can see me in my entirety. For me to get the most accurate view about who I am, I need to learn to step back and to look from that perspective.
If I really want to know who I am, even though much in me wants to resist this thought, it actually does matter how others see and understand me. If I want to consider myself to possess a certain trait or quality, then if I am to be honest I need to know that each of these perspectives see those views if I want to credibly claim that trait.
So, do you really know who you are? What do you think about Mr. Hodgkins’ personal self theory?