Who Am I? Finding Your Sense of Self


Can it be that something so basic as knowing what we like and do not like determines our sense of self or identity?

While it can be argued we should never hold tightly to our self-identity since life involves change, it can be quite depressing or anxiety provoking to go through our days lacking a sense of identity.

People who are chronically without a sense of self often have a fuzzy awareness of their likes and dislikes. When confronted with making a choice they might say, “I don’t know what I want,” or, “I don’t care,” or, “It doesn’t matter.” They may have developed a habit of giving-up their own preferences to accommodate others.

Now, research completed at Stanford and the University of Cambridge reveals the significant role our preferences play in personal definition.

Our Revealing Likes

The scientists found that computers analyzing a person’s Facebook “likes” can more accurately identify the person’s personality traits than most of their family or friends.

  • By analyzing just ten Facebook likes computers were better at determining a subject’s personality than a co-worker.
  • By analyzing 70 Facebook likes, computers were better at determining a subject’s personality than a friend or roommate.
  • By analyzing 150 Facebook likes, computers were better at determining a subject’s personality than a parent or sibling.

Only a subject’s spouse did a bit better than a computer in identifying the subject’s traits.

Regaining A Sense of Self

Though the study’s investigators are focusing on the computer’s potential for enhancing people’s assessments of other people, this research also suggests a strong link between what we like (or dislike) and our identity in the world.

If you constantly wonder who you are, and find this lack of identity troublesome, try focusing several times each day on what you want, or do not want. If you have lost touch with your own preferences you can regain it through exercising the “muscle” of choice.

After making a choice, notice your thoughts, feelings, and physical reactions to your choice. Simply notice, and do not judge your reactions as right, wrong, good, or bad.

It is possible you will need the help and feedback of a compassionate friend or professional counselor to help you exercise your preferences in everyday life. Clicking “like” on Facebook may reflect our personality, but we may not see this reflection until we exercise our "likes" in the presence of other people.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit:Lauren Macdonald / flickr creative commons


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