Increase your awareness of the different compartments that make up who you are right now. Work to understand your personality, your moods, your impulses, your strengths, your weaknesses, and so on in the different situations of your life. Think of yourself as a notebook rather than a sheet of paper. A sheet of paper implies that you can be described in a single way, but in reality there are many components within you with different values and different impulses.
For example, inside your head in different situations you might hear the voice of when you were a child and when you were a teenager and where you are in life right now, you might hear the voices and values of your mom at different stages in your life and you might hear the voice of your dad, and you might hear voices of other important people in your life. This is all part of who you are at any given moment. While I know I’m extroverted in most situations, I can become very introverted in some. For example, when I was in fourth grade my music teacher told me to never sing with the group. She said, “Don’t sing anymore. Just mouth the words.” So for the past 40 years whenever I’m in a situation where people are singing I just stand there totally quiet, even when they’re singing “Happy Birthday” at a family gathering. That’s just part of who I am today.
If it helps you, write down a description of yourself on the different pages in a notebook.
Here’s a suggestion on how to use your notebook. On each page right down a different role that you play: son or daughter, sibling, friend, parent, spouse, protégé, mentor, work role, community member, and so on. Under each role, write down different situations that you find yourself in or different circumstances that you find yourself facing. For each situation write down the different voices you hear going off in your head: you as an adult or you as a child or you as a teenager. Write down how you approach these different situations and what your personality is like in each of them. Write down what beliefs and values are driving your behavior in these various roles and situations and circumstances. If you invest two hours in this exercise, you will have a very good idea of how complex you really are. You will realize that it’s not easy to describe yourself in a few sentences.
By doing this exercise, you can come to a much better understanding of who you are today. The key at this stage is honesty. It’s not about who you wish you were, but rather an honest awareness of who you are right now.