How Do You Shape Your Self?

Written by: Jorinde Berben
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Last night, my partner and I found ourselves (yet again!) in an interesting discussion. We are both spiritual explorers and love to dive into matters of the soul and the purpose of our lives here on earth.

The discussion we had was about how we shape our personalities, our earthly ‘selves’ over the course of our lives. We found ourselves with two very different ideas or analogies about how these selves are formed.

The Clay model

One point of view was that, as we grow up, we build ourselves up from what we encounter in the world around us. The interactions we have, our environment, but our thoughts and feelings, they can all be seen as bits of clay that we put together in order to shape ourselves. In the beginning these pieces are rather haphazardly put together and we have little control over who we become. But as we grow older (and, hopefully, wiser) we can reshape the parts we didn’t like so much before, or add parts we want to.

At the end of our earthly lives, we have formed the being we intended ourselves to be.

The Granite model

This model shows us starting out as a big block of granite, with our true self hidden in the center. As we grow older, we chip away parts of ourselves that no longer fit: unwanted patterns, unhelpful beliefs and parts of ourselves that live in the shadow.

The more we chip away, the more our inner light can shine through for others to see. We thus become more and more our true selves.

I was thinking these two models over again during my morning run (this would have been an impossible sentence just one year ago) and I noticed how each tells only part of the story. Yes, we are formed by the world around us and by how we react to others. And yes, we are formed by what we decide to let go of and leave behind. I looked for a way to combine both models, and this is what I came up with:

The Hardened Clay model

In this model, we start out in life forming ourselves out of bits of clay, putting them together as best we know how. These bits of clay harden over time until they’ve completely solidified. Over time, we might notice that these hardened bits no longer fit who we want to be at that moment, that they no longer represent our truest self. We can then pick up the chisel and start knocking parts off that no longer fit, thus cutting away that which doesn’t belong to who we really are.

I believe that forming ourselves into the people we will eventually become is what life is really about. It’s our journey to express the best we can be into the person we become. And it’s this experience that helps our soul grow.

Which model seems more true to you? Or how do you have a view on shaping personality that is something completely different? Please share, I’d love to hear what you think!

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