Odds are your name is the one thing that preceded you into this world, something picked out for you as part of the preparations for your arrival. I hope whoever chose your name, chose well. (There are some fascinating naming traditions across cultures and around the world; to explore these is beyond the scope of this blog post but if you’re interested, especially read about African American naming traditions; those of the Jewish community; and German and Kenyan…and quite possibly your family has its own.)

The energy in our names starts with their connection to our lineage. Most of us start out carrying our fathers’ names (that is shifting slightly as more women decide to have children on their own); your relationship to him, and to your family more broadly, may color the way you feel about both your name, and how you think it presents you to the world. Those relationships may be joyous and supportive, or complicated, even painful. How do you respond to the sound of your own name? How do you feel when you hear someone else speak it aloud? When you say it yourself, as you meet someone new, or spell it out to someone over the phone?

Is your name a good fit for you, for who you want to be in the world?

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And if it’s not, is it time to think about changing it? Perhaps whoever gave you your name did not choose well, or at least did not pick something that ended up being a good fit. It happens, and in fact it happened to me: the name I was given at birth is not the name I carry now, which is one I chose for myself.

There are two little exercises you can do to explore your own name. The first is writing a simple anagram, and you may have done this in elementary school. My own could look like this:


–where the first letters spell my name vertically, and the adjectives describe me (although admittedly, eight-year-old me would likely have come up with words more like truthful/excited/smart/shy/animal-loving [that has never changed]).

For a deeper dive, and one that will bring you some surprising insights, you can write a longer meditation on your name, starting with its origin and meaning. My name comes down from the Greek, and means gathering, in the sense of reaping, in the sense of a harvest. What is the life path a gatherer might pursue? Does the fact that I was born later in the autumn, the end of the harvest season in the northern hemisphere, my birth place, amplify, counter, or otherwise affect my name’s message?

It’s an exercise I encourage you to try, writing–inventing, if necessary–the story of your name.

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When you give your name its own narrative, it teaches you a lot about your own energy and how it has, so far, influenced your own ways of being in the world. It can turn out to be an inflection point in your own self-understanding. And if it’s the point that leads you to the conclusion that you need to rename yourself? In the next blog I’ll explore some of the implications of that, along with ways to uncover new possibilities for what your name ought to be.

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