Who We Are at Core

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Composition of people faces, colors, organic textures, and flowing curves

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Who are you? There are dozens of ways to answer that question, from your name and nationality, to your relationships and job, all the way down to the nature of your soul. But the more we zoom in, the more the self can feel like an impressionist painting — from afar, you see distinct shapes, but the closer you look, the more it dissolves into a million tiny pieces. So what is the self really? What is it that makes us who we are?

On this week’s episode, we explore what scientists are learning about the concept of the “self,” and how deep it truly runs. We hear stories about the eroding effects of Alzheimer’s — and whether our memories make us who we are; what diaries can tell us about our best and worst selves; and what it really means to be self-aware.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist and researcher, found that although 95 percent of people believe that they are self-aware, only about 10-15 percent really are. We talk with Eurich about why self-awareness is beneficial, and how to gain more.
  • Once a bully, always a bully — or maybe not. We talk with reformed bully Brittany Brady about how she came to realize she’d been a bully, and how that shadow version of herself affects her life now.
  • We chat with Iris Berent, a cognitive psychologist at Northeastern University, who studies human nature, and the moral implications of our “true selves.”

Read the full episode transcript.

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