A while ago, I attended a presentation by a prominent doctor turned politician who stated flat out: “We are what we do.” This statement has never left my mind since then.
Think about what makes you… you. Is it your action? Your beliefs? Your personality? Is it your dream? Your possessions?
You might find it hard to agree on one aspect because our identity is fluid and not static. We are complex human beings with multiple dimensions. Judging a person solely by their actions—or any particular characteristic—is akin to assessing the taste of a fine meal only by the amount of salt in it.
The belief we are what we do is deterministic and implies that our actions can always be pinned down to a single cause. Human behavior is both willed and caused. We can’t accurately define someone solely by their actions.
If we were what we did, people making mistakes, the principle of cognitive dissonance among others would be senseless. We often engage in actions inconsistent with our beliefs and values. If we don’t look beneath the surface, we’ll get an inaccurate picture of ourselves and others.
Besides, equating people and their actions is also a surefire way to reinforce people’s negative self-beliefs or feelings of grandiosity. Does failing at a maths exam make me a failure? Or getting 100 an intelligent person? You would agree not.
The shallower one defines themselves, the more unfulfilled one will be. Therefore, it’s wiser to understand people—and yourself—through multiple dimensions and not rush to hasty conclusions about your identity and others.
This is an excellent post! Full of facts. Things and jobs do not define our abilities, who we are, or what we truly represent.
Absolutely! It’s a pity that many people believe so. Thank you for your kind words.
You are welcome. It was my pleasure. I really enjoyed the post!❤
😍😍😍😍glad you did.
“The belief we are what we do is deterministic and implies that our actions can always be pinned down to a single cause.”
I completely agree with you. Yet, this is exactly what drives so much division we see today. Cultural, economic, and social stereotypes /stigmas come from people making judgments about what one does or how they do it. The “why” tells so much more of a person’s story.
Blessings to you my friend!
Thank you Alex for such a thoughtful sharing. You are right. Looking for motivation behind people’s actions is often if not always more telling than their actions. Blessings to you too Lex!
True, we shouldn’t be so hasty to judge others and ourselves.
Right. Better keep an open mind.