“It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before.” – Betty Friedan
Standing separated by the bar table in the office, the question “What makes her doing what she did?” came from a colleague of mine (let’s name her Daniela). Daniela was referring to another colleague, Mark. We both thought that Mark was not being reasonable in his business decision (or even in his participation in the decision making).
I replied with a “I don’t know. Why would you ask that question?”.
I had never thought of the reasoning behind his act. I mean, I had too many things to juggle. But, this question might be the answer to understanding and reasoning with Mark once and for all, instead of always created workarounds to each block coming my way.
“You know, there is a saying that ‘hurt people hurt people’”, she said. I was taken aback.
In psychology, anthropology, and social science, Identity is a person’s conception and expression of their own (self-identity) and others’ individuality or group affiliations (e.g. national or cultural identity).
Identity: Common Application
It’s usually easy to define oneself with what one’s name is and what one does for life.
When asked what they do, most would probably describe the things that they do at work, e.g. a consultant might say that he help clients overcoming issues, a procurer would say that she sources the items/services needed using the most optimum approach, an engineer would probably say that they ensure that the machines, or system, are working properly, if not more efficiently, etc.
Should the question be averted a bit into who they are, people would then probably associate themselves with their names, their family, e.g. someone might refer himself as “Dawn” living downtown with his parents as the oldest child of three, another might refer herself as “Jill”, of Latino, living on her own nearby your place.
Identity: The Missing Part
People need anchors. We need a solid or constant thing that we can affiliate ourselves with. We would probably feel lost if we don’t have names, if we have no family, if our work is taken away from us. That might be why we associate ourselves to those things during our conversation with others.
But, do we also share our thought process, our characteristic / feelings, or even our goals to them? Or do we keep it to ourselves, as if it’s not part of our identity?
Relating to Mark, does it mean that doing bad things means we are simply reflecting our experiences to our surroundings? That Mark was only giving us hard time because he had been treated that way or that he had been brought up that particular way.
If it is, does it mean that doing good things doesn’t necessarily mean that we are good people? Perhaps we are only acting that way since it’s caused by how we are brought up, by his family, education, or the social norms we got accustomed to?*
Anyhow, opening up about our experiences, thoughts, or feelings might not be easy, but it would help others in seeing why we see what we see (that’s why more and more people value social skill and EQ for particular positions).
For some of us who find it not applicable, giving reasoning behind our decisions and being open to feedbacks would help.
* I am not sure what to think about this. I have always believed that there are good people and some not-that-good people. People do what they do for a reason, therefore, even the most evil has their reasons.
What takes me by surprise is the thought of wondering that there might be no good people, that we are actually neutral when we are born, that we learn to be good/bad through years lived, that our heredity is not necessarily the main factor we act the way we act.
If so, there might not be good people. But, then, we can choose what and how we are going to learn. We can choose how we treat others. We are given the freedom to learn the good and avoid the bad (and doing so wisely, knowing that our values are not necessarily the best and others’ not the worst).
Being affected by the world, we must remember that we are also affecting the world.. (Yeah, you know where I am going with this). So, do good to the world and it will bring back kindness to you.
Have a nice day!