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DancingMind's avatar

How do you explain to yourself why you're you?

Asked by DancingMind (5814 points ) February 8th, 2011

I guess I’m talking about what consciousness is a little bit, but not entirely.

More like, why are we conscious as who we are, not the person next to us? Or not conscious at all?

Why’d I get such a comfy life while others suffer?
Why’d I get such a reasonable, practical life when I want to do somewhat-crazy, passionate things?

But more than that, why’d I get a life? How am I me?
Why’d you get a life? How are you you?

Why we’re here, right now. Not past, not future, not born a year later or a year earlier.

How’d we all get so lucky or unlucky or both to be here, and be here now? Why now? Why us? As us?

How do you explain yourself to yourself?

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22 Answers

mowens's avatar

After doing much thinking on existence, I have decided it is better to just exist than to try and figure it out.

I’ve got too much shit to worry about anyway.

Sandman's avatar

I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul. I am me because of the choices I have made that led me, ultimately, to be the person I am today. Call it self-manifested destiny or whatever, but it’s who I am and I know it through and through, because I made me.

Mariah's avatar

I think about this all the time. I think it’s one of the biggest mysteries out there.
I have a tendency to think of the consciousness and the body as separate things, although I think it’s likely that that’s an erroneous way to think of it. But when I do think that, I wonder why it is that the “me” consciousness got lucky enough to be a human one when there are trillions of insects and bacteria out there that I could have been.
For a long time I actually struggled with odd, misplaced feelings of guilt because I felt like my life was too good to be fair and I hadn’t done anything to deserve it; I had basically been born into it. I was in the happiest phase of my life when I was hit with some bad news and suddenly my life was a lot less perfect, and in a way it brought some mental relief because I finally felt like I’d gotten my share of the pain.
Sometimes, though, when I hear about other people suffering so much, I have trouble even forcing myself to comprehend that those people are real and those things are really happening to them, because it’s so unthinkable.
Then I wonder why it is that there have been hundred of thousands of years of human history, but medical procedures and treatments that have saved my life have only existed for a few decades, and how amazing is it that I just happened to exist at a time when those things were there to save me.

Stepping back from the amazement, a lot of these things can be explained partially by confirmation bias. If I weren’t human, I wouldn’t have the brain capacity to ponder why I am what I am. If I were born before modern medicine existed, I wouldn’t be around to wonder at how lucky I got.

wundayatta's avatar

My son is fond of asking this question, and he doesn’t like my answer, but, there it is.

You are the sum of your genetic programming and your experiences from the time you were conceived until now. Your experiences (or environment) are fodder for your thoughts and feelings, all of which come together to be the person who behaves as you behave.

You could not be the person next to you because that would mean you would have to be in two bodies at the same time starting at conception. Or really, down the chain of ancestors until the time that life began.

Your birth is the product of choices made by all your ancestors. Your personality is the product of what you’ve lived through since then.

How you get a life? Well, really, You didn’t get a life. You grew into a life. It’s no big mystery. It just seems like a mystery when you look at yourself from an isolated moment in time, as if none of those other moments counted for anything. We tend to forget how we have gotten here and our consciousness seems like this magical thing that came from nowhere.

It’s all like a dance where we have no partners, and we dance from person to person, depending on who comes our way at that time and place. That’s how it is in life. We are dancing with the world and with the people and with our chances and that is how we come to be here, now, as who we are.

ninjacolin's avatar

For me it’s a matter of law: I’m here because I have to be. I’m me because I have to be. I disagree with the popular notion that “anything is possible.” The only thing that is possible is me, aka, this. Reality as only I see it. That is what is. Solipsism is demonstrably a necessary conclusion for me.

Reality is my own construct but me, a limited builder.

Coloma's avatar

Because, we are an infinite part of the life cycle.

This is our spin on the planet and what we get in life is partly by choices made and partly through destiny.

I never question ‘why’ I am here, I accept that this is my little forms manifestation now and embrace the positives of how I show up, what I can do as a single, yet not separate, organism to better myself, best serve the external.

Does the sun ask why it is not the moon?
Does the Oak tree ask why it is not a Pine tree?
Does a cat ask why it is not a dog? lol

You get the point. Some things are just not worth asking as they are unanswerable.

We are simply, pure consciousness, a manifestation of the one consciousness beyond form. We do not ‘have’ a life, we ARE life, that’s good enough for me.

I am just pleased that I have gotten to have this life experience.

Maybe I’ll be back again, who knows. ;-)

VS's avatar

A man whose opinion and intellect I valued highly once tried to explain ‘deja vu’ to me thusly: We experience that sense of having experienced something before because of the life PREview. You know, how right before you die, they say your whole life flashes before your eyes? Well, right before you are born, your whole life flashes before your eyes, too. You pick the parents and the life and the different things that happen to you for a variety of reasons.
Now, being a logical woman, I had some difficulty with this answer because I couldn’t imagine why anyone would chose to be crippled, or a rape victim, or homeless, or mentally challenged. If you had the choice, wouldn’t everyone chose to be rich and beautiful and successful? No, they wouldn’t. Because rich, beautiful, successful people do not always have the same impact on another human being that a rape victim may have. They are not able to teach the same lessons as a mentally challenged Special Olympics winner. So, over the years, his explanation has come to make more sense to me. Now, all this does not answer your question, but it does help to explain a little about what makes me me. It has contributed substantially to my whole way of thinking about life and the meaning of it. I am fond of saying that my answer to the meaning OF life is to put more meaning IN life. We all struggle daily with knowing ourselves and making the effort to be better than we know we are. I wonder if this or that had or had not happened in my life, how would my life be different now? If my dad had not died when I was 10, we would not have moved to a new state, and I would not have gone to a different school and not had different friends. Just but for one little heart giving out at the age of 63 and my whole existence would have been different. . . but like @Coloma I am ever so thankful that I have gotten to have this experience. And I DO believe I’ll be back!

tinyfaery's avatar

I searched for years for an answer to this question. I started with religion and soon became an atheist. Then I moved to philosophy and quickly realized that human reason will never grasp consciousness.

My conclusion: Everything is random; there is no reason or purpose to existence; my brain and it’s interaction with the world is the cause of who I am, what I think and how I interpret the world.

But does any of that really matter? Live your life as best as you can.

cazzie's avatar

I am, the sum total of my experiences. I am the sum total of how I have judged myself in the past and how I continue to do so. I am the sum total of how I have let other people affect me. I am also the sum total of each and every thought in my head and how it leads me treat myself and others. These decisions I make every day, every moment are who I am.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I gave up trying to figure all that out. I simply decided that life is a gift to be enjoyed and to be used in the best interests of all, as God gives you the ability to see those interests and the skills to pursue them.

Summum's avatar

Great answer @Sandman I agree totally. I would say that most people, lets say 99% do not know who they are. They rely on past experience to dictate their future. So basically when something takes place we take past experience and move it forward and predict our future. And it is not a matter of choice it becomes like a machine and you react based on the past. You see it all time when people get stuck and continue a lifestyle in a circle. They keep repeating the same actions and get the same results even though they wanted something different. If you want to have a better future let the past be what it is and create the future for yourself. If you think you are what you are from the past then you will be stuck in the past and never be free of it.

thorninmud's avatar

There’s a more fundamental question that has to be resolved before you can tackle these. In fact, the resolution of this more fundamental question makes it unnecessary to tackle these.

This questioning is a beautiful thing, but you’re beginning with a certain set of assumptions about who you are, and then trying to make sense of those assumptions. That’s a futile pursuit, because the “you” of your assumptions is not what you most fundamentally are. This discrepancy between our assumptions and our true nature is what makes these questions so persistent and compelling. On some level we know that there’s a problem with seeing ourselves as this separate little being that starts here and ends there, and has this particular set of characteristics. We’re already intuitively aware that that’s just a tiny aspect of who we are, and that internal dissonance keeps bringing us back to these questions.

But we have to be willing to back up and reexamine the assumptions themselves. This is hard, because they’re deeply habitual and, to a great extent hard-wired into the brain. But the ability to realize our full extent is also hard-wired, otherwise it would be inaccessible. The questioning needs to start there: Who is it that looks for these answers? First get to know that one, going beyond your habitual views. It’s not easy, and you have to do it entirely on your own, but it’s very worthwhile.

glenjamin's avatar

I like to think that we are all just individual lights in an enormous grid, each waiting to get switched on (at birth). When our lights go out, they don’t go out forever, but are recycled. So you can say I believe partially in some kind of reincarnation, if only because it is hard to fathom complete and permanent nonexistence. That said, I may have lived and died in a previous era, though those memories are not accesible to me. I don’t know the ‘why’ though, nor the design behind this whole thing we call life. We don’t know the answers, such is philosophy

kess's avatar

Eventually the only answer that can suffice is this…

I am me cause I am Truth….

flutherother's avatar

There are two questions here. The first is, why is there something rather than nothing? That is the most mysterious question of all and one that no one knows or will ever know the answer to. The second question is why I am in this life and not some other and the answer to that I believe is down to chance. You could have been anyone at any time. That is why it makes sense to be understanding and kind to others. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

Summum's avatar

Truth is very subjective and is in the eye of the beholder. What if we were to just say things are what they are and truth is not part of that equation. Again around 99% of mankind does not know the real “me inside”.

I found there are things we know we know. Then there are things we know we don’t know. Where one has to look to find oneself is the things we don’t know we don’t know.

kess's avatar

When a person happily resigns himself to ignorance.. then obviously ignorant he will be…

Be sure that there are aswers to each and every questions…

and Truth belong to the man who know it as himself….

Summum's avatar

When a man/woman stands and says they are no good. Did everyone out there see that they were no good? NO It was a story made up by past experience of the individual and it rings as truth to that individual but it is not so. But that individual will prove over and over again that they are correct in their view. We all have those past views of ourselves and we have made judgments on ourselves as a result. It is a survival mechanism and is human and we all are human. The truth for one is not the truth for another and therefore very subjective and in the eye of the beholder. Again to find one’s self you have to have a choice in the matter and be 100% present in the NOW. That means not bringing the past baggage with us and making judgments. It means to be the creator of yourself.

zophu's avatar

Today I saw a sign that said “I am that I am.” This was next to a sign that said something about an old man in a peanut. I think this might explain everything perfectly. austin, tx has a lot of weird signs around

AstroChuck's avatar

I’m not. I’m me.

filmfann's avatar

I was born me. I was raised me. For a little while I wasn’t me, but I discovered how unhappy and shattered it made me feel, so now I am me again.

so how are u?

augustlan's avatar

Have you been studying philosophy? ;)

I ask because when I did, it threw me into a whirlwind of questioning… about myself and societies and life in general. I immersed myself in it, and thought all the hard thoughts, and then I had to walk away from it for a while. It can be so all encompassing and overwhelming! I don’t think there are any answers to a lot of these questions, and in the end it doesn’t even matter. However you got here, whoever you are… be good. That matters.

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