It’s What Made Me Who I Am Today

Many factors influence the makeup of our personality and our station in life.  Genetics, the disposition we are born with, culture, the country we live in, early childhood experiences, education, our childhood caregivers and probably even more factors.  It’s a complex issue to try and cipher.

I frequently hear people say, after they’ve talked of some horrendous early childhood trauma they experienced, “It’s what made me who I am today.”  The context for their statement is in speaking of how they overcame the difficulties life threw their way.

At one time, I agreed with this philosophy.  “Life makes you who you are” made sense to me.  But then I began seeing people who experienced the same kinds of traumas but ended up with polar opposite lives.

I’ve met people who had abusive and neglectful parents yet they turned out to be some of the most amazing adults you would ever want to meet.

On the other hand, I’ve met people who had what appeared to be very loving and stable parents yet they turned out to be irresponsible, self-destructive adults.

If “life makes you who you are” is true, if the events in your life made you who you are today, how do you explain the above disparity?  It certainly can’t be explained by the nature of the events.

I don’t think people have thought through the implications of the statement, “It made me who I am today.”  So now when someone comments that the traumatic experiences made them a better person, I challenge the truth of their statement.  And here’s how I present it to them:  “If you believe that the traumas you experienced made you a better person, wouldn’t it make sense that we recommend that every child experience the same traumas?  Shouldn’t we make sure we do everything we can to traumatize children?”

As you can imagine, they recoil from my suggestion.  “Of course not!” they say.

Exactly.  Nor would I.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I always try to boil things down to their simplest form.  Some accuse me of oversimplifying things.  And perhaps I do.  But I’d much rather oversimplify life than overcomplicate it.

So what do I believe makes us who we are today?  I’ll include all those items mentioned in my opening paragraph and then say it’s how we respond to life, that’s what determines where we are and where we are going in life.

The greatest trait that God instilled in every human being is the ability to choose, “free moral agents” the scholars call it.  We can move forward both because of and in spite of life events, if we choose to.

No matter where you are in your life today, no matter where you have been in your life, you can make fundamental changes that will result in positive results. 

If you’ve been using your past as an excuse for your lack of progress in life, stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Choose today to start evolving into the best possible person you can be.

{for additional thoughts on this topic see my article “Every Roadblock Has a Bypass.”}

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