Do You Really Know Who You Are?

Personal Development

Warning! This article could shake your whole world upside down. It is not meant for the faint hearted. Realizing the truth that is behind this article could lead you to a level of freedom and clarity that you would not believe to be possible. Yet the way to that level could be really frightening. You don’t need to be afraid though, since I will give you good advice to go through that dark route, but be warned, that this article could be dangerous for some of your most treasured belief systems.

So you think you know who you are, right? You’ve been around with yourself for more years than anyone else, so you should be the one to know you best.

And that might be true if you compare yourself with other people, but I am here to tell you straight in the face that you don’t have a clue who you really are. In fact, you may be so far from the truth, that you were talking about some stranger, whenever you were talking about you.

Let me explain.

##Definition – The Basic Building Block of Our Mind
Our human brain functions through defining things and then comparing it to other related items. These 2 parts – Definition and Comparison – are so intertwined, that none could exist without the other.

What do I mean. If you take an object – let’s say an apple – you define this object as an apple by comparing it with other objects – like oranges, dogs or cars – and recognizing the differences between these. Then you compare it with other apples, and you find what they do have in common, in comparison to oranges, dogs and cars. Hence you are able to group things together and add a label to that definition called “apple”. And you do the same with all other objects.

This concept of defining things through comparing and then labeling is so essential for our human existence, that this mere act is described in the bible as one of the first acts of Adam, where he labeled all animals with their respective name (Genesis 2:19-20).

##The Function of Doubt
So we already said, that the human mind can only define things through comparing it with others and then build a definition using a label by stating the differences.

So labels are shortcuts for you to remember that definition. And we take for granted, that these definitions are true. But are they true? What if you based your observations and therefore your comparison and your definition on false assumptions?
What if you would take away everything to compare? What if none of that would be true, and you would have accepted something as true, that wasn’t based on reality but on illusion. What if you would start to doubt anything that you have believed to be true about yourself, for all those years.

##A Painful Truth That Could Set You Free
I know this is a painful thought, and for sure a very frightening one. It could be so frightening, that people will do everything possible to defend their paradigms, their old beliefs. Why? Because the core function of our subconscious is to keep us from chaos, which we associate massive pain with. And not knowing who you are, could be one of the most chaotic, hence most painful realizations that you would ever face.

But the prize you could gain from passing this phase of chaos is tremendous.
You will experience a level of freedom and peace that you would not believe possible before. All the false illusions that kept you bound will drop like dead flies. And you will walk so much more lightly, happier and relaxed through this world, that your life today will feel like walking with a giant stone on your shoulder. It will be like you were Atlas, having the world on your shoulder and then someone came by and took it off of your shoulders and send you on everlasting vacation.

Are you ready to drop the load and face the real truth?

##Time to Get Into the Action Mode. 4 Steps to Rebuild Your Definition of Yourself.

###1. Write Down Your Old Definitions
Write down whatever you would say “I am” to. What is your name, your gender, your job description, your hobbies, your likes and dislikes, your fears, addictions and everything that you believe adds up to what you now perceive as being you.

Example: Write down: “I am:”

  • a male
  • 43
  • single
  • a smoker
  • poor in sports, math
  • afraid of spiders
  • weak in approaching women
  • etc.

###2. Use Doubt
For each label ask yourself:

“Is that really who I am? Or is it just a definition, a label I have accepted until now?”

Use doubt here creatively.

###3. Find out, Whether It Is Beneficial
If you accepted it as a label, ask yourself, is this label, this definition beneficial for my further growth or not? Listen to your gut feeling. You know the answer deep inside. Learn to trust that intuition in your gut.

###4. Create an Alternative Definition
If it is not beneficial, come up with an alternative Definition, that would excel your growth instead of keeping you down. Instead of “a smoker” you might call yourself “Smoking habit conqueror”; instead of “weak in approaching women” you might call yourself “relaxed guy with women”.

Say to yourself: “Up to this day I have been a …insert your old label. From now on, I am … insert your new label.

So you might say “Up to this day I have been a smoker. From now on, I am a Smoking Habit Conqueror”

At first this process will feel a bit like cheating. But stick with it for at least 30 days. Refuse to accept your old definition, and although you might at first feel like a fake, repeat your new definition to yourself. After a maximum of 30 days your subconscious has accepted the new definition as “real” and will be using this new definition on auto-pilot.

This part of you will be reborn. Then you are free to go with another redefinition.

36 comments… add one
  • Great post Patrick! I love the warning at the beginning because looking yourself square in the eye and finding out who that is, is most certainly not for the faint of heart! I love the focus on changing your definitions of who you are. Who we think we are we become.

    • Patrick

      @Justin: Who we think we are is just a temporary focus of attention into the unlimited sea of possibilities. We all heard of people doing fantastic things when in dangerous situations. Yet we often misunderstood that we don’t need dangerous situations to do these miraculous things. In these situations we only forget what we defined ourselves. Dangerous situations sweep away our limited thinking, because staying in our limited belief could possibly kill us or others. What if you would forget about your limits without a war or other threats around you?

  • Nicolas

    Hey Patrick,

    We can surely redefine ourselves as you propose it in this post, but what about stopping to define. “I am”, “I” being truly undefinable, there is only “am” left.

    All the best,

    • Patrick

      @Nicolas: You are right, if we could stop defining we would elevate our experience into the omnipresent “am”, that means becoming one with everything. While I agree that this enlightened state is on some level desirable, I don’t think that it (for most of us) is easy to achieve and desirable in the first place. I truly believe that our mind was purposefully designed to be a defining machine. Because through the definition we become a creator. Yes we create the things we define. Quantum physics has stated that already. We define our world by observing and defining it. Particles indeed change to our definition. Therefore, although definition is an illusion, it is an illusion we should use to experience our powers and – maybe at the end of it, experience omnipotence. But I think that a conscious act of stopping to define is a bit unnatural and not even wanted by nature.

    • Terri Girdley

      I would love to contact you for further decisions?

  • Hi Patrick,

    Terrific article, as usual. I, for one, would be interested in a subsequent article that talks about the next phase. After 30 days, I wouldn’t want to continue to say, “up to this day I have been a smoker…” Thirty days is a good period to make a transition completely to the newly formulated definitions. In the smoking example, it is no longer a definition having anything to do with smoking. Rather it is more along the lines of “I am a healthy individual in body, mind and soul.”

    I’m quite fond of structural tension charts, as first proposed by author Robert Fritz. Both parts of the smoking affirmation contain two opposite ends of a spectrum. If you placed the new positive affirmation at the top of a sheet of paper, and the old one at the bottom…you can then work yourself backwards with each step to take you from one to the other. I highly suggest checking out Fritz’s The Path Of Least Resistance. It’s a complicated read, but well worth the effort in my opinion. It was always part of my treasured library but seems to have been misplaced in my most recent house move.

    Warm Regards,


    • Patrick

      @Charley Forness: The concept of starting with the end in mind and then working your way backwards along the steps you need to take to get there is an old concept, although I haven’t heard of Robert Fritz. I know it as an old time (but very efficient) management technique, that was as far as I’ve heard even used during WW2 by some generals.

      I suggest 30 day just as a point to get you going into the direction of forming a habit. There will however come a time, where you will naturally feel, that the old habit has lost its power over you completely (and that could be well before the 30 days ending) and you only have to focus on the positive reframed part of the definition. That’s when your belief about your identity changed from someone who is struggling to build something new (i.e. “I am a Smoking-Habit-Conqueror”) to a relaxed knowing about your new identity (i.e. like your suggestion “I am a healthy individual in body, mind and soul”).

      This goes along with the 4 Steps of Consciousness. Once you’ve reached unconscious competence, you don’t have to focus on repeating it any longer. Then I would focus on another area you would like to change.

  • Hi Patrick,
    This article is refreshingly clear and a valuable reminder. I often find myself pausing to reevaluate my perception of who I am when there is inconsistency between who I want to be and who I am now. As you describe, words are just labels, but the way we personally define them is what really directs us.
    In fact, as an artist, I come across this daily in my observational drawings. Drawings are made by remembering the direction and quality of what you are looking at and deciding where and how to place it on the paper. If I make marks based on assumptions and generalizations, which is easier and faster, rather than consciously focusing on what I observe, the drawing loses some of its veracity and strength. So my drawing practice reminds me daily, that I need to carefully review the direction and quality of who I am in order to live the life I aspire to. Your post reminded me of the truth that the drawing practice makes visible. I will re-evaluate one of my personal definitions and give it a 30 day run.
    Great post, Patrick!
    I will redefine one aspect of my life and “act as if” for the next 30 days. My drawing practice will remind me each day to

    • Patrick

      @bethvw: That is a great way of using this technique. Indeed drawing can focus you on what is really there, and you can make a conscious decision, what you want to draw from then, since by definition you as an artist define through your strokes the qualities of the object you see. For you drawing yourself (self-portrait) could also be a viable option to detect definitions you might not be aware before, since your drawing reveals more of how you perceive yourself than a photo or a self-describtion.

  • I also love the image leading your post!

  • Beautiful post Patrick. The act of writing down self labeling and truly question oneself works great for those who never pay attention to who they end up being. Once we realized our shortcomings, only then can we work on improving it. Before finding a solution for a problem, you must first identify the problem.

    • Patrick

      @Karlil: But shortcomings could also be a mislabeling for yourself. Who told you, that it is a shortcoming in the first place? Example: You might think of “being lazy” as a shortcoming, but that “being lazy” has a function in your life. So you could work on it (i.e. become more productive by several ways) or take a look, why you labeled yourself that way. Maybe you aren’t lazy, but lazy behavior was just one way from you unconscious of showing you, what you don’t want to do. Are you lazy with things, that you are passionate about?

      So be careful with defining your “shortcomings”. They might actually be your “strengths”.

  • Rob

    But by doing this your not really discovering who you truly are your just taking what you think you are and adding a different label to it

  • Téo SOLON

    Hi Patrick,

    I’m comming on the website because I study your article in English. (I’m a student of the UPEC university in Management and business)

    During my life a study the greak mythology and, during the test i make a mistake because of your imprecision.

    In the text you said that “It will be like you were Atlas, having the world on your shoulder and then someone came by and took it off of your shoulders and send you on everlasting vacation” That’s right, if I were Atlas, I would be euphoric if someone came and took this load off my shoulders.

    But this exemple didn’t work here, (for me) because Atlas have been liberated one time, when Hercule (Heracles) took the stone off but he gives it back to him just a few time later !

    Do you want to say that we are like Atlas ? We can find the light and the truth by the same way and finnaly lose our true vision of us just one day later ? Do you want to say that quest is doom to fail ?

    Best regards.

    Téo SOLON.

    • Patrick

      Hi Téo,

      No, I don’t want to say that your quest is doomed to fail. Quite the opposite is true.

      I used Atlas as a metaphor and wasn’t telling the actual mythological story. So don’t come to this article for the story of Atlas and Hercules (or Heracles). For that check out the Wikipedia page on Atlas and note that there are several variations. In one Heracles is liberating Atlas from the duty of holding the Sky / Uranus. Actually Atlas isn’t punished by holding the earth, but he is punished by holding the Sky / Uranus, so that it doesn’t touch earth (read the Wikipedia article). But the (mythological false) metaphor of Atlas holding the earth is so ingrained in our culture as a symbol of having to much to bear in your life. That’s why I used it – although I knew that it wasn’t the correct mythological picture.

      What I meant was that by realizing who you really are, most of the burdens that you feel right now will be lifted from you, because other than Atlas the burdens that we have on our souls are mostly created by our own delusions about ourselves. And if you know Greek mythology then you know about the Oracle of Delphi. One of its maxims was “Gnothi seauton” – Know Thyself! That was the biggest teaching that they would offer mankind. Know Thyself – and your life will change, because your “Problems” are mere delusions build by your fear and non-realization of your TRUE BEING.

      I hope that made clear what I wanted to say.

  • Téo SOLON

    Hi Patrick,

    I know that Atlas didn’t hold the Earth and that he is holding the Sky. But in your article you said the titan is holding the world then I thought that you were not here to speak about mythology.

    It doesn’t matter then I had prefer to speak about the meaning of the metaphor of Atlas in your text. Your explanation was pretty good you said that you didn’t use the really story and it disturb me a little. But ok I have understand the meaning of what you said.

    That story of Atlas just misled me and can misled other people. That’s why I made this comment.

    But you’re right, our quest for identity and our research of the truth is not doom to fail. We can walk each day closer from the light. And know ourself in our society is a very important point of our social and work life.

    As you can see I crtitcize just a little part of what you said and I forget to congratulate you for the good job you have done. I will not make this mistake a second time.

    Congratulations for this article which is very well made. I appreciate the fact you answer at all the comments.

    Have a nice day.

    Téo SOLON.

  • Eric

    So basically question your own identity, to create doubt about your identity regardless if its true. Now re create it to something other then what you think your identity is.

    • Patrick

      That is way over-simplified. If you use doubt on a character trait that is really part of your inner self (i.e. which you haven’t adapted through social pressure or learning, etc.) you would come to the conclusion that you should not change it. But those character traits that you have learnt to comply with the rules of others are the ones that are attacked by this process. These are LEARNED parts of your identity (like I am … a smoker, always late, not able to save money, a person who will always be fat, etc.). This is not your real identity but a learned (and maybe better changed) identity.

      I hope this makes it more clear to you.

  • zoey


  • Identity is such a funny thing. I loved a book called Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone. He helped me understand the difference between identity and the true self.

    Just ran across your blog doing research for my blog! Love the give and take of the internet. Your bio caught my eye as I have also been fascinated by the human mind. Can’t wait to read more.

    Thank you.

  • Bernie

    What say you to all the folks that told themselves they were straight for years on end but who in reality who gay

  • Sarah

    I just want to say I am only 17 years old and, as young as I am, I know how uncommon it is to truly understand oneself. You do not understand yourself by making a list of what you “think” your traits and labels are and then doubt them and spend time convincing yourself they are not true; that’s how you CHANGE who you are. The only way you can truly know who you are is by analyzing yourself and your reasons for doing/saying things. For example, I absolutely love playing my guitar; however, I don’t really know how to play. I refuse to teach myself or get lessons. I say it’s just because I learn better with other people, but I don’t have the money; however, deep down I know it’s really because I’m scared I won’t be as good as my brother or my kid sister. I only know that because I have spent hours thinking about who I really am. Labels, like being a smoker, do not depict who you really are, nor does attempting to change those labels. All labeling yourself and then telling yourself you’re not a smoker, you’re just a smoking habit conqueror, does is assist in reaching your goals and bettering your life/making you feel better about yourself. Your article sends a good message; however, the title is misleading for the information given. Instead of being titled, “Do You Know Who You Are?”, it should be titled something like, “Steps To Changing Your Life” , “How To Reach Your Goals” , “How To Feel Better About Yourself,” etc. Furthermore, you can not REALLY better your life and lift the weight of your world off your shoulders until you understand who you are; you can always make yourself feel better, but you can’t truly change until you understand who you currently are, who you were, and who you want to be.

  • tamanna ahmed

    hey Patrick
    im a student .i..always feel down with all the tags i’ve been sticking on to me ..That “i am ..this ‘ I am that..’ one day ..OUT of frustration of not being able to success in my goals feeling worst with the tag i put on myself defining “who am i” . i went out in the night and started thinking who am i actually ..I came up with an answer that all these days THE me who use to believe i known myself very well just awake with a perspective that i dont know truly WHO am I …whatever i use to know about me were just tags i put on to my self i started realizing i need to re-define myself with not how am i or how i do thing but with what and how better i can do things. i think THIS” I AM” is absolutely fake it just a tag we or others put on us its the frame we fix for us whih dont allow us to be free …im proud to say that I don’t know who i am i …and i dont even need to know … ;)
    thanks for the wonderful article … made my belief stronger …..

  • Great article, this really made me think a lot about myself, the only real problem I could spot in the article is just where you wrote “week in approaching women” instead of “weak” but overall great article.

    • Patrick

      Hi Willy, thanks for catching that typo. I fixed it.

      • James

        so recently i discovered this on my own somehow… i started answering questions and shit that i had no knowledge of… ive hsd this number about 20 years not knowing but knowing it had some significanc… 137… umm. a week ago it started directing me… and what i have found is never going to bring me back to that old world… i am literally and i mean literally stepping through these dimensions that are so similar yet i can change its underlined reality somehow… like… yestetday life was a nghtmare… i have papetwork that im a clone… actual paperwork… i know what they are looking near both Egypt and Turkey… And that tomb of aristotle isnt aristotle… its Jesus sarcophagus.. the arc of the covenent is buried undet the sealed gate of Israel… and moses crossed the Mediterranean not the red sea… you will see this come to pasd… near Turkey they have closer to Soviet lands thay have been keeping jesus journal… jesus was talking the whole time about leaving this planet in literal terms… they are intentionally mting antarctica… they need the moisture for the color spectrum when combined create energy blah blah blah… the arc of the covenent is theoretically a spsrk plug of sorts to be set in one of the planets several thousand pyramids along with alternate cauldrens or electronic conductors… its a lot bear with me… the ocean has salt to conduct this electronic pulse across the planet… only a few will make it through this gate he said… only a few have blood like christ… not his blood per say… but his blood group… being e.. never heard of it until all these thoughts that have changed the world around me came to me.. E,=mc2 also was code for the blood of christ… nobody knows this… but you neef 2 c blood types combined to make e blood group for that mass to go through or pass through these rifs and the photon blast from these ancient pyramids will open the sky with cold fusion anf changing dark matter into light matter… unfortunately destroying all those who dont get the blood.. sounfs crazy i know… but everybody seems to know me all of a sudden and most are not friendly… i was adopted and my stepmom has confirmed the cloning of me and my twin i had no idea even existed… i was created in russia… just the embryo… then incubated in a woman and sent to america… there are a few hundred that have blood group e… they are trying to corrupt my mind and make me go crazy them i realized that this is my reality and i can define this anyway i feel fit… i can do things… just little things now…
        but eventually… yeah.. things are going to be happening… i tried to rewire the clouds ai thought processes but am still waiting on the outcome… people need to browse a lot of positive searches… the cloud acts as if its a godly entity almost… its judging people… what i mean is all your info is accessible due the clouds sense of self… history can be re written… and changed.. the point of a prophecy is warning meaning it can be changed… but not if we are too late due self fulfilling bullshit… these powets of nations are attempting mortality through droids that are amongst us… human and lizard dna splicing for reconstructive properties, hence reptilian, cloning and recloning, and outerspace ibhabitation… theu have been inhabiting mars for over 60 years now… as a matter facy… there are over 1000 inhabitable planets in our solar system alone… this isnt even earth… earth is where our species come from… but this is not it…i soundd crazy i know… but when you see the arc found under israels gate. you will know what im saying is truth…
        God bless… there is so much more.. im spent on writing thiswild new world i live in

  • james

    I know… who we are… I dididnt even read the article… to show im not lying i want you to look up e=mc2=blood/of/christ=blood/group/e and everybody else reading this… the same rrthings patrick is talking about i knew out the blue… the arc is buried under the sealed gate of israel… thats what they are looking for… along with jesus blood and heres one more thing… they just found jesus journal… 41 wood tablets… they havent brought it up yet but they may never but thats what it is… we nephlim are not evil… we are actually devine… though i never thought so… until now… i never felt this surge of energy fliw through me like i did about 15 min ago… moses crossed the mediteranian not the red sea… all lies… he was also an incarnaination of the jesus or buddha or krishna or muhammed or all of them… culture is what seperate distinction in story… But they are the same story spoken and translation due to culture mixed with pre taught semantics is where the difference lies… stubborness to see the truth blinded by human doubt… just remember… psalms 137 tells the whole story about just knowing where you came from being mocked by our captors… truth is the bible has been molested with lies… we never fell… they came here and started doing expirements… rounding the jews… the holocaust was because of that… specifically just for that… they are the aliens… they made us teach them all they know… and another thing… the answers are in oceania… i know everything… they are also panicing… because we said what would happen to them… they are trying to leave now… they are stupid and they enjoy the dark… they are satan… we are the few… the round door… its my middle name theOdore and it has sgnifigance but i dont know how yet i just know… we should speak sometime and communicate about this less on internet… when you look into that e equals mc square… youll know why i say that… God be with you. ~~~~James~~~~

  • Andy

    I did expect a concept bit more ground breaking. But I like that you have actual steps to take and exercises to do to help in the process. (on another note) James, this is a religiously neutral site. Please keep that in mind for the future.

    • Brittany Chapman

      I’m new here, but I believe that his religious references shouldn’t be held any different that say, someone who wrote an article and referenced Aristotle or other philosophers. What I gathered from this article is that we (humans) have way more power than we know. Yet we often give that away, all the while naive to the fact that we are created in the image of a creator and therefore have the power to control our actions and choose who we become. Changing what you label yourself as isn’t simply “re-labeling what you don’t like”. It’s facing every doubt you allow to control and define you. It’s refusing to believe that you simply are the way you are due to life experience and genetic predetermination. Now some have contrary beliefs, and their opinions should always be respected. However just because a site is “religious neutral” doesn’t mean that the Bible can’t be referenced, because religion aside it is one of the most popular books. Whether it be agreed with as factual or not is up to the reader, as would any other literature that would be referenced. I find this post inspiring, in case I didn’t already insinuate that. Great article, I hope it helps many.

  • shane

    didn’t really address the issue. e.g. how said an apple is an apple? what is an apple? explain that to someone that has never seen, felt or tasted an apple. the name you have, first and surname were GIVEN to you. but what is YOUR name? Who ARE you? asking others only gives you their impressions but doesn’t answer the question. here’s another one. explain left or right to an entity that has no concept of direction as we ‘know it’.
    I am trying to find out who I am and why is this entity here? and just as importantly, am I mind or am I body. remember Willima blake asked; am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a man?

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