I, Me, Self and You


“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter


What does being the person that you are, from one day to the next, mean? This is the question of personal identity, and your answer to this question determines what type of identity you have. Personal identity theory is the philosophical confrontation with the most ultimate questions of our own existence: who we are and what we are?  

Personal Identity is how a person sees themselves in relation to those around them; it is what makes them unique. Personal identity may be described by factors such as age. Gender. Nationality. Culture. Religious affiliation. Disability. Sexuality and sexual orientation. Interests. Talents. Personality traits. Family makeup and relationships and friendship networks. Part of our personal identity is given to us at birth, such as sex, family makeup, nationality and genetic history. Other aspects of our personal identity are formed during our early years of development and continue to develop during our life as we grow, mature, make choices, forge relationships and build an evolving identity for ourselves, these include gender, profession, hobbies, relationships, sexuality, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

Primary Identity References: However, there are four primary identity references that you might be aware of that you can use to help identify yourself. They are I. Me. Self. And You.

Each of these reflect different personal identity levels that you have. Here is an example of the context that these different identity references are used by us in everyday conversations.

I have a dear friend who has recently recovered from a bout of cancer treatment, who said something interesting to me. She said, ‘I didn’t realise just how much the cancer treatment would affect me. I guess in myself, I knew I’d always be ok, but what really shocked me is just how much the treatments can change you.’

To summarise what she was inferring:

  • I: Didn’t realise the effect on me
  • Me: (i). Is affected. (ii). Is shocked.
  • Self: Is ok.
  • You: Changed.

There is actually a relationship between these levels of personal identity. For example:

  • I tell myself to exercise more – (talking to self)
  • When I eat too much, it doesn’t really bother me – (me is unbothered by I’s behaviour)

So,  if you want to get a deeper understanding of your own self, you might want to ask yourself who you are when you think of I. Me. Self. And You. Can you see, or describe what you are feeling or experiencing at the time?

How to identify the primary identity references: You could try asking the following three questions in sequence:

  1. First Question – Ask: “…and when you think where ‘I‘ is, where about is ‘I’?”
  2. Second Question – Ask: “…and how old is thatI’?”
  3. Third Question – Ask: “…and what is happening around that <insert age> that you are thinking of ‘I’?”

You can then repeat the exercise, replacing “I”, with “Me” and then “Self” and finally “You”.

You might get some surprising answers.  I did.  

A few years ago, I did this practice as part of my training to become an IEMT [Integral Eye Movement Therapy] practitioner and therapist. When I went through the process, I found that for each of the four Primary Identity References I had a different reference set. A different place where I was. A different age for each primary identity reference. I was thinking of different things. 

  • “I” was seven years old and was out playing
  • “Me” was a teenager going to a disco
  • “Self” was a thirty-something settling down with a new wife and child
  • “You” was a forty-something going to work on a train into London

I had been going through a serious trauma and this was reflected in these strange differences. The differences represented how “split up” I was feeling. IEMT can be used to bring congruence to your primary identity references and this is what happened. After a short session,  I felt calmer and more centred into myself.

I shared this with a colleague at work recently and they are much more present and grounded. When we went through the three questions across all four primary identity references,we found that they were in the present moment for all four references.

If you would like any help with this, or it raises questions, do get in touch. Likewise, if you want to know more how IEMT – Integral Eye Movement Therapy can help you, you can get in touch with me or you can go to:



I leave you with the following quote:

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter



“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” ― Rita Mae Brown

I love this quote so much I’ve used it again. Further to the previous article I wrote on memories – Are memories really real? How do they work?, I wanted to follow up on the idea that memories are not “real”, rather they are reconstructions of past events, recreated every time we try to recall the event. This means that memories are plastic. They are malleable, they can take different forms. And if you come to understand this, then you begin to realise that all of our memories – constructed every time we recall that past event, incident, trauma, moment, etc. – can be changed.

Yes, you can change your memories, as much as your memories can change you.

In fact, thinking about this, you begin to realise that everything we experience in life; the adverts on the TV; TV programmes themselves; movies; books; magazines; etc are stories that are designed to be imprinted on your sub-consciousness and then reborn within your own personal context.

Even in the work environment; stories and anecdotes abound; marketing plans are devised to inform the purchaser of the benefits of product X, or service Y. In the B2B [business-2-business] world, we even spend money and effort asking our customers to give references on the superiority of our products and services so that they can be used to sell those products and services to others.

So, stories and the way we capture, store and reference them in our memories is the glue that holds humans together in society, in work, in social situations and in personal relationships.

So, if memories are not fixed, but are reconstructed every time you come to access one, then it means that it is possible to adjust that memory – somewhat like how you adjust the pictures and sounds on the TV that you watch. You can change the contrast, picture depth perspective, colour tone, brightness, surround sound, type of bass, almost anything is possible. So to, it is possible to change your memories.

Now, the art of changing memories is vast and the techniques do different that I could write every day for the rest of my life and probably not cover every possible approach, However, I like to think of a framework that can help focus the approach you take. These are:

Self Help & Self-Talk: These are the guided self-help guides you can buy in the shops. Think of the Paul McKenna “I can make you rich / thin / stop smoking” style. These are there to help set up a set of stories in your subconscious and through habit change [I’ll talk about the power and harm of habits in a separate post].

Structure Help through counselling. There are a myriad different types of counselling. They generally fall into the following categories:

Cognitive and behavioural therapies:
Behavioural therapies are based on the way you think (cognitive) and/or the way you behave. These therapies recognise that it is possible to change or recondition, our thoughts or behaviour to overcome specific problems.
# Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
# Behavioural therapy
# Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)
# Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies
Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies are based on an individual’s unconscious thoughts and perceptions that have developed throughout their childhood, and how these affect their current behaviour and thoughts.
# Jungian therapy, Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic therapy and Psychodynamic therapy

Humanistic therapies:
Humanistic therapies focus on self-development, growth and responsibilities. They seek to help individuals recognise their strengths, creativity and choice in the ‘here and now’.
# Existential therapy
# Gestalt therapy
# Human Givens psychotherapy. I would love to do this programme, but would need to invest thousands of £’s, something I do not have.
# Person-centred therapy (also known as “client-centred” counselling)
# Psychosynthesis
# Reality therapy
# Solution-focused brief therapy
# Transactional analysis
# Transpersonal psychology

New and Developing therapies:
Although psychological therapies generally fall into the categories above, there are also a number of other specific therapies that are emerging.

# Equine assisted therapy – I have seen this in action and find it amazing.
# Integral Eye Movement Therapy (IEMT)
Family & Group therapy
Neuro Linguistic Programming

As you can see, there are many approaches that can be taken and I have trained and been certified in a number of them [those in bold & Italics]. Most of them take time and a significant investment in both the therapist and the client. Depending on the condition, this can be months or even years. There are benefits to a gentle approach to change work, but for some people, rapid change is what they are after.

One of best rapid change therapies is Integral Eye Movement Therapy or IEMT. The Integral Eye Movement Technique is a brief change work process that generates rapid change in the area of undesired emotional and identity imprints. The process and algorithms of the technique answers the question, “How did the client learn to feel this way, about that thing?” and applies specific change at the right place within the client’s model of the world.

By building resources inside the problem state, IEMT brings the client more into the present and enables the client to stay out of past negative experiences permanently.

You can literally change memories in one session. The memory generally needs to be time and event bound – say a car accident, orr any other type of single event trauma. So if you have a trauma that you need to resolve quickly, then this is the one for you.

BTW, my IEMT profile is below:


As always, I leave you with this quote…..

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” ― Mark Twain