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Who am I? A deeper understanding of ourselves


Sometimes, in our quietest moments, we all delve a little deeper into our thoughts. When removed from the madness of our daily lives, we stop and think about why we live as we do and find ourselves asking some questions. Who exactly are we and what makes us, us? As it happens, people have dedicated themselves to studying what makes a person, formally known as ontology, and many theories have formed from considering a deeper understanding of ourselves. Perhaps you can identify with some of the more popular theories presented.

Bundle theory

The concept of bundle theory was formed by David Hume in the 18th century. By his understanding, a person is defined by their physical being, the measurable and visible substance of who they are. For example, you can only identify a person by their bodies, families, occupations and interests. In layman’s terms, what you do in your life is who you are. The word ‘bundle’ comes from the idea that your person is a combination of many qualities, and depending on what you do in your life, that combination can change. This theory explains why we act differently with different people, for example your parents see a different combination forming you compared to your work colleagues or your friends. [Why our friends define us]

Ego theory

‘Ego theory’ is a name commonly given to the famed concepts of the id, ego and super-ego, first introduced by Sigmund Freud. In contrast to bundle theory, your physical being and what it does is only the representation of who you are, not what you actually are. Ego theory identifies a ‘soul’ or ‘conscience’ as defining who you are. Your ‘id’ contains your innermost urges and desires, your ‘super-ego’ contains your social conditioning which controls how you appear and interact in the outside world, and your ‘ego’ acts as a mediator and organiser for the id and super-ego. Ego theory in this sense argues that how you appear doesn’t necessarily reflect who you truly are, but might reflect instead someone you aim to be, or someone you think other people want you to be. [What does being egocentric mean]


Self-enquiry was popularised by Ramana Maharshi and is the practise of constantly questioning and ruminating on who you are, originating from Hindu practises and beliefs. The practise was not devised to pick ourselves apart and confuse us, but to increase our self-awareness. Sometimes in our daily lives we are unaware of how we come across to others because we act unconsciously according to routine. We are too busy thinking about a million other things to stop and think about ourselves, and consequently we lose sight of who we are. Self-enquiry is seen as a liberating practise and helps in making positive changes to how we lead our lives. [How self awareness can improve your relationships]


Self-surrender as a concept was also popularised by Ramana Maharshi and is more spiritually based, providing a method of self-evaluation for the more religiously inclined. The individual self is transcended through ‘surrendering’ to God. Basically put, instead of liberating yourself, you are liberated by God, who leads you to understand who you are. The idea is based on the belief that God lives within you and your free will is only enabled through God.

Through these conceptual modes of thinking, you might be able to identify ways of working out why you live as you do, and not just what and how. Hopefully through understanding these theories you are able to view yourself with more depth. If you want to go on a fun voyage of self discovery join our site and access empowering videos, reflective eBooks, planners and a supportive community.


This article was contributed by Pink Moods.

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