1) Take the down abbreviated Myers Briggs Test. Was this fairly accurate?
2) How well do you think you know yourself? Ask someone to describe you and see if their image of you matches your own. Share whatever you wish regarding this topic.
3) What was/is your family role? Are you the good child, perfect child, peacemaker, introvert, trouble-maker, etc? How might you have attained your role?
4) Are you the same person you were 5 years ago? Have aspects of your personality changed?
5) Which other family member are you most like, which other family member are you very different from? How do you think this occured?
Another area that concerns itself with this mind/body issue is What am I? and Who am I? We call ourselves “I”, what do we mean by that word? Are we our minds? Are we our bodies? Are we some
strange combination of them both along with our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, personality, etc? Do we know who we really are? Do we know what “I” is?
Come to think of it, what really makes us who we are? Do we really know who we are? Think about this, we do not truly know what we look like. Our understanding of what we look like is only by
looking in a mirror. A mirror is not a true image of us. Have you ever looked in one mirror and you think you look great and then you look in another mirror, you think you look horrible? The
mirror may be faulty; the lighting in the room may be bad, etc. Some people look in mirrors and they think they look too fat or too skinny. Is it all perception? Oh no! Here’s that P word again!
So we may not really know what we look like, but we think we do? Another example is the sound of our voice. Have you ever heard your voice on a recording? Most people say, “that’s not me”!
We do not even hear ourselves the same way that others hear us. Look at our names, our names give us so much of our identity, yet someone else chose our name for us. So, again I ask, who is
this “I” that we think we are?
So much of what and who we believe we are, we received from other people didn’t we? Psychologists say that by the time a child is 5 years old much of his/her personality is formed. From where
does our personality originate? Our parents, family members, friends, teachers; in fact so many people that we encounter, had a great deal to say about who we are. Impressions were formed
about us. Some theorists believe that all of us simply learn to conform to the impressions that people have about us. Do you relate to everyone the same way? You’d probably say no. You do
not relate to your parents in the same way you may relate to a trusted or best friend. You do not relate to a sibling the same way that you relate to an acquaintance. Are we putting on and
taking off a lot of different “hats” every day? We are son/daughter, brother/sister, grandson/granddaughter, best friend, casual friend, mother/father, partner, lover, employee/employer, etc.
We play a lot of different roles every single day. Maybe Shakespeare was right about,” all the world is a stage and we are the players.” Do we have a different “I” for all our roles? Has anyone
ever said to you,” you’re not acting like yourself today or “you don’t seem like yourself”. Well, who are we then?
Psychologists also claim that from the time we were young, we were “given” a particular role in our family and we played that role. Some of us were the “good boy or girl.” Some of us were the
“perfect child.” Some of us were the handsome/pretty child. Some of us were the rebel. Some of us were the comic. Some of us were the scapegoat. We learned to play the roles other people
perceived us as, and we became used to those roles. They became who we think we are. I was the oldest of two, and I was the good and perfect child. When I got into college, “all hell broke
loose.” I became the rebel, the protester, the activist, the questioner. Is that who I really was? Did it take until my college years to become the “real” Cliff Kroski? I really don’t know, but it’s
interesting to think about.
Think about how much of whom we are is related to when we were born, where we grew up, how large or small our family was and all of the many experiences we’ve had in our lives. I was born in
the early 50’s, that’s 1950’s! I was shaped by growing up in a large east coast city, I’m a city guy. I like the water, Baltimore is a port city. I grew up in an ethnic neighborhood, a Polish ghetto, as
I call it. I was an athlete, because my dad was. I went to church, because my parents did. I was also formed by the experiences of the 1960’s and 1970’s, political assassinations, social unrest, the
civil rights movement, riots in cities, the Vietnam War, JFK, RFK, Richard Nixon, Watergate, Hippies, the counter-culture, etc. The music of the 60’s and 70’s influenced me a great deal. I claim that
no really good music was written after 1979, it’s just my opinion. All these things shaped me. I am probably looked upon as a liberal, if not at times a radical.
Think of the experiences which shaped your lives? Where you were born, type of family, etc? Now, here’s the $100,000 question? If we had not had our particular experiences, or had we been born
at a different time in history, or a different city; would we be the same person we are? I’d say, no way! Or better yet, change one major thing about us, would we be the same person? Am I the
same Cliff I was 15 years ago? Will I be the same Cliff, 15 years from now? Look at a picture of yourself from a number of years ago, do you recognize that person? Is that you? I look at a picture
of me in my mid-20’s, I see this “Greek god”, this handsome guy that made women in Baltimore swoon, do you believe that one? Well, that‘s who I believed myself to be! I look a little different
now, the hair is a lot whiter, and I’ve had many experiences since I was 25. Am I the same person? Are you the same person? Think about it? How much can we change and be the same person, or
are we the same person as we get older and experience more and more things in life?
Here’s another question. Is there a difference among these terms: body, person, human being? What do we mean by these terms? This all relates again to that mind/body question? What do you
think these terms mean? I guess many of us would say that the body is our shell, or it’s what people see when they look at us. Right? How about person? Is our person all that makes us what we
are? Our personality, consciousness, thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. What about a human being? I guess we would say that human being is our genus, our homo sapien term. Is it? Now, do
these terms mean the same thing? Can we use them interchangeably? Perhaps not. If a person dies, is that a human being, a person or merely a body? If someone is “living” by being hooked up to
a machine and if they were to be taken off the machine they would die. Are they a human being, a person or a body? Are you aware that two really huge ethical issues of our day revolve around
these concepts? When does life begin and when does life cease? The question of pro life and abortion is really a question concerning when does life begin? Pro life folks may say at the moment of
conception. Others may say, the fetus is a person at 3 months, or 6 months or perhaps not until birth. So too is the question of euthanasia. When does a person cease being a person? When the
brain waves cease or when the respiratory system ceases? Take the Terry Schiavo case of a few years ago. This was really a question about is she a person, or just a body?
My mother died on January 1, 2008 after suffering two strokes that fall and winter. When I went back to Baltimore for a week, following her first stroke, I observed her difficulties in speech and
movement. Things she took for granted only days earlier, she could no longer do. As I watched her in her therapy, I thought, ‘Is she the same woman she once was?” I definitely did not think so.
As a matter of fact, after she regained some of her speech she said to me,” I feel like I’m trapped in someone else’s body.” Was she the same person after her stroke? Could she ever be the person
she once was? You may have had similar experiences with loved ones who suffered an accident, serious illness, etc. Were they the same people they once were?
Another facet that goes into who and what we are is our culture, sex, and language. If you were raised here in the Midwest your culture is very different than perhaps mine was, being raised on
the east coast. The way we look at things may be different. Many east coast folks are fast paced, impatient, always on the go. We may have the idea that mid west folks are more laid back, or
operate at a slower life pace. We were shaped by the area of the country in which we grew up. I’m a city guy, I love the fast – paced energy of a city. If you were raised in a small rural area, cities
may freak you out. That’s who we are.
Our sex, male or female, speaks volumes about who we are. Are men really from Mars and women really from Venus? All of you know that men and women look at things very differently. We have
different emotional make-ups, different sensitivities, different ways of speaking and listening. You know, at times, that these differences can cause problems or confusion.
Speaking of language, our language differs depending on where we grew up. Some folks here say that I have an accent, I don’t think I do. We even refer to things differently. What do you call a
sandwich that you may get at Subway? A sub? A hoagie? Folks in the northeast call sub sandwiches, grinders. Next time you go to Subway, ask for an Italian grinder, and see what happens. Or
what do we call a soft drink? Soda? Cola? Coke? Pop? How about a milk shake? It’s called a malt in some places but once again those north east folks call it a frappe. I was in England some years
back and I saw “hamburger” on the menu at a lunch spot. So, I ordered a hamburger, expecting an American hamburger. I received a piece of ham between 2 pieces of buttered white bread,
literally a ham-burger. If you ever go to France and you order coffee, make sure you order “American coffee.” Coffee for the French is 3 shots of espresso in a very small cup. Believe me; you’ll be
zipping around Paris like the energizer bunny.
So, the point of all this is to think about what makes you, you? What do we mean by our mind/body or even soul? Do we are really know who we are as the “I” that we call ourselves. Are we
actors playing a number of different roles as we go through life? What is our reality? Is it all the same or is it different? Do we all create our own reality? What do you think?