We’ve all heard of the unfortunate person who’s gone for a loan, only to discover their application has been rejected—not because they have a poor credit rating—no, previously, their rating has been perfect—but because some creep has stolen their identity, spent all their credit, and accrued a bad credit-rating.
Identity theft—not nice, and it can take years for the victim to clear their name and regain a good credit-rating.
However, I’ve come across a more subtle, more disturbing, more widespread form identity theft. In fact, with this sort of theft, the victim is a passive participant in the whole deal, and willingly hands over their identity to the perpetrator.
How do you convince another person of who you really are? This is a question I have heard people ask. I have asked this question and struggled with the insidious theft of my identity since…I became self-aware.
As if a character in a novel or a play, from birth, we are cast in our roles. These roles are set by another’s attitudes and world view. In reality a great many people go through life playing a role as someone else’s character in that someone else’s book of life, without ever discovering who they really are, their true identity.
And it’s fair to say, all of us, at one time or another, have scripted others into our drama without ever seeing that person for who they really are.
I must admit, as a victim of this form of identity theft, which for the most part, I cannot control as I cannot control another’s attitudes and way they see the world, I enjoy the freedom of writing. It is with writing fiction, I get in touch with my real self through my characters. Also in writing non-fiction, such as my autobiography, I redeem my true identity from those who have stolen it for their own particular narratives. Most of the time. I have to admit, though I struggle with attitudes and judging others that get in the way of seeing another person for who they really are.
So in answer to the question, how do you reveal who you really are to another and thus change their view of you—even when you are yourself?
The key is listening to another with empathy and non-judgementally. As in most lessons of life, we need to lead by example. We also need to be aware of our own narratives and attitudes that get in the way of being open to seeing another for who they really are. So we need listen and be open to entering another’s world that will be different from ours. As we do this and listen to another and engage in their world, they will feel safe and trust you enough to open themselves up to listen and see who you really are.
Being seen for who you really are, jumping off the stage and ripping up the script, even with the tool of listening is not a quick fix. Changing our culture, attitudes and habits takes time. Maybe like the stolen credit identity, it takes time, maybe years to land. But isn’t it preferable to be proactive in being the person we truly are, rather than passively being someone else’s perception of us? And isn’t it a good thing to listen and see another for who they really are?
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016
Photo of Slinkys (c) Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010
Books I have found helpful in relation to the above article:
Born to win by Murial James & Dorothy Jongeward ©1971
The 3rd Alternative by Stephen R. Covey ©2011