Paul Ricoeur proposes “narrative identity” as the ability of the human being to narrate himself, constructing a coherent and meaningful story that gives a sense of continuity and purpose to one’s life. According to Ricoeur, our narrative identity emerges through the process of storytelling, where we weave together the fragments of our experiences, memories, and desires into a unified narrative.
Similarly, the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas pays close attention to the importance of the other in the formation of our identity. For Levinas, our encounter with others is not just a social interaction, but a transformative experience that shapes how we discover and understand ourselves. The presence of the other confronts us with our own existence and responsibility, challenging us to go beyond our own self-interest and acknowledge the ethical dimensions of our being.
In the realm of psychology, the concept of the unconscious mind plays a significant role in understanding self-perception and self-evolution. Research conducted by Bargh and Morsella (2012) explores how the development of unconscious actions, influenced by interactions with others, environmental conditions, and emotions, can shape our narrative and sense of self. The unconscious mind, often hidden from our awareness, profoundly influences our thoughts, behaviors, and choices, instigating a complex interplay between conscious and unconscious processes.
The voice that emerges from our inner depths carries profound significance within the narrative process. It can manifest as the protagonist in our stories, narrating in the first person with a rich tapestry of emotions, conflicts, and longings. At other times, this inner voice takes on the observer role, describing the narrative introspectively, reflecting and analyzing experiences, and embarking on a systematic process of seeking solutions and personal growth.
Developing a powerful and coherent narrative requires engaging in a continuous dialogue with both others and ourselves. It necessitates tapping into the silence within, actively listening to our inner voices, and contemplating the questions that arise. Furthermore, it involves actively seeking out the perspectives and insights of others, engaging in meaningful conversations, and challenging our preconceptions. By contrasting these different viewpoints with our own images, experiences, and perceptions, we create a multi-dimensional narrative that enhances our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
Our narrative identity is an ongoing journey, constantly evolving and being shaped by our interactions, experiences, and reflections. Through this storytelling and self-exploration process, we find meaning, make sense of our lives, and strive to become the authors of our own narratives.
Bargh, J., & Morsella, E. (2012). The Unconscious Mind. Perspectives on Psychological Science 2008 3: 73 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00064.x Retrieved from http://pps.sagepub.com/content/3/1/73
Brown, B. (n.d.). The power of vulnerability. TED. Retrieved October 16, 2021, from https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability?language=en.
Boyle, G. (2017). Compassion & Kinship. TED video. Retrieved November 4, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rMnzNZkIX0&t=177s