I was first introduced to the Onion Exercise when I was at an ‘European Human Bridges’ youth seminar in Stockholm in 1997. The exercise immediately struck a chord with myself and it is now an exercise I use when I am assisting people to develop themselves and especially their personal identity.
The exercise uses an onion to show a person’s identity where each ring of the onion represents a different level of importance. The things people put towards the outer edge of the onion may be more visible but less important like someone’s hobbies or where they live, while those in the middle are things which are more important to their core identity but maybe less visible like their faith or impairment. The exercise works on the basis that our identity is made up of many components which may or not be important including our background, our hobbies, our likes and so on.
The exercise can be the first time a person can see their identity for themselves as well as be able to show others and this can indeed be a powerful tool in helping people move forward with who they are and where they wish to be.