“Who am I?” is a big question. One of the most powerful, I think. There is no concrete answer. Yet, we all tend to ask it at some point in our lives. I know I am something more than my labels: a woman, a counsellor, a mom. The question is usually who am I beyond my gender (or nationality, ethnicity), my job, or my roles? Its twin is “Why am I here?” These questions are so big they can stop us in our tracks.
A question without an answer is circular. It literally has us running in circles. But, asking these big questions can give us an opportunities for reflection. They may provide some deeper level of insight. Looking for the ‘right’ answer can ultimately hold us back from doing meaningful work. However, questions such as “Who am I underneath the ego? Deep in my soul?” guide us towards finding meaning.
“What is my purpose?” takes questioning to an external level. The question implies there is a reason why I am here – I am meant to do something. It is similar to “Why am I here?” but it starts to take us outside our self. It begins to become a question of service. It can take the insights we get from asking “Who am I” to a practical level.
“How can I serve?” shifts the focus. For example, if I ask the question “Who am I?” and find that I care deeply about issues of social justice, I can spend a lot of time trying to figure out why. But to what end? Maybe I care about issues of social justice because of my own experience where I may have been a victim of an injustice. Acknowledging the fact that I care, for whatever reason, is internal. Asking “How can I serve?” takes me outside myself towards action.
Asking questions for the sake of getting an answer can be frustrating. Especially when there are no answers (or no right answers) but only possibilities. Asking for the sake of curiosity can be a valuable process, however. If we are curious about who we are, we may be surprised by what we find.
Once we begin to engage with these questions, in an effort to more fully understand our self, we transform our consciousness. It is an opportunity to look at old patterns and challenge them. It helps us identify stories in our past we have outgrown. Stories where we have been labelled, where that label no longer serves us. It is about living from the point of view of intention.
Asking questions and being curious about our self and our life can bring about compassion for self. It is an honouring of any suffering we may have experienced in order to bring back our power. Our power fuels us; gives us the energy to change and grow. It puts us in the driver’s seat so we act in our life rather than react to our circumstances.
The only thing we can truly do with our lives is give them away – give love, hope, forgiveness, compassion. We must start with our self. I believe this deeper understanding of self is what connects us to our soul, or core. It is at our core where spirit lifts us out of self and connects us in a very meaningful way to the world around us.
“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” Joseph Campbell