Lesson of the Week

Identified: I know who I am

My friend ate too much food and lamented, “I am a hippopotamus”.  This is a picture of a hippopotamus at the St. Louis zoo.   My friend is not a hippopotamus.   True identity is not a silly, passing, intrusive thought.  True identity is the very core of your precious being, the real “I am, that I am”.

A woman found her identity in a stroke of insight.  Jill Bolte Taylor became incapacitated when a blood vessel ruptured in her brain.  On TED.com, she tells her poignant eight year story of recovery.  What she un-covered was as impressive as being re-covered.  She discovered the “peanut gallery” — that tiny part of the brain that keeps bombarding the mind with random ideas.  She learned the importance of minding the mind and rebuking the peanut gallery’s intrusive unhelpful thoughts.

Her mission moved from being a Harvard trained neuroanatomist investigator, to helping others use the mind’s potential to create quality of life and peace.  Her inspiring story is told in the book, My Stroke of Insight.

On a certain day, you too might be discovering that your identity is more than random babbling from the brain’s “peanut gallery” section.  Your identity is based on being cognizant of what is real and important about yourself.  In essence, the answer comes through the heart, head, will, and voice.  The heart senses what inspires you.  The head shows you how to intelligently become involved in what inspires you.  The will pushes you to want what inspires you.  The voice speaks up and wins what inspires you.

So to find identity, contemplate, “What inspires my heart?  How can I use my head to intelligently do something that inspires my heart?  How can I be will-full and willing to want what inspires my heart?  How can I speak up and win what inspires my heart?”

The following is an activity that will reveal what inspires you and defines your most precious and true identity.


Unlike a drop of water, which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man's life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.

- B. R. Ambedkar, Jurist, One of the Founding Fathers for Independent India


Materials:  Paper and pen (notebook paper no smaller than 3.5 x 11 inches or poster board/paper can be used
Time:  Ten minutes for writing, at least five minutes per person for discussion.


Note:  This is a sacred event and talking should occur only in the beginning while explaining the activity.  After you and/or others in the group understand the assignment, there should be no more talking until everyone finishes writing.

1.  Orient or turn the paper horizontally and divide it into three columns.  Think about three people who have been instrumental in your life.  They can be people you have never known, but wanted to know.  They can be living or deceased.  What is most important is that these are three people who have inspired you.

2.  Next, take one name and write it as a label at the top of one of the columns on the paper.  Label the next column with the next name, and the third column with the third inspirational person.

3.  Think about each person.  What is it about that person that has prompted you to choose him/her?  Under each name, write the qualities that have inspired you.  Each column will have the name of a person at the top, and the qualities you love about them under the respective name.  There is no right or wrong to this activity.  Remember, if this is a group, have everyone be silent during the writing period.

Example:  A woman wrote that her mentor was Mother Theresa of Calcutta.  The qualities were:  selfless, helping the disenfranchised, being thoughtful and prayerful, courageous, beautiful.


STOP here and do not read further until the above written assignment is completed.


4.  The assignment is really about you.  William Blake once wrote, “The sun’s light as he unfolds it, depends on the organ that beholds it.”  Surprise!  The qualities that you have listed are really your best qualities!  What you have seen in others is who you are – at your best.

5.  The next step is for you to read each quality like this:  “I am ........  " (and fill in the blank with the quality you have written about your favorite person).  Do this with each quality.  "I am ...... (and fill in the blank with the quality you have written about your favorite persons.)

6.  At the end of the activity, think of a new way of identifying yourself. State it in this manner:  I am identified, so I can …………………..  Write it below and share it on the website.  Others will be inspired by your affirmation and good work.  (If you are in a group, have each person state their affirmation.)

Note:  If participants know each other well, they can  respond to the group members answers and state if they do think there is a relationship between who they are and who they chose as an inspirational person.

This exercise has helped individuals learn more about their true identity.  In the example above, the woman actually started crying and realized she was like Mother Theresa and wanted to find a mission helping others.



What do you think?