Identities. Who am I ?
Identities. Who am I ?
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When I speak of identity I do not mean your nationality, your creed or your gender. Although that is a subject we could cover as well.
In this article, I will focus solely on the identities we create for ourselves in our minds.
The ones we think the world perceive us as, for better or worse. Here are a few examples of identities you might believe to be intrinsically part of who you are : beautiful, ugly, successful, failure, skinny, fat, intelligent, stupid, idiot, good-for-nothing, etc
The list goes on but you catch my drift. Those are the identities you can consciously or subconsciously or both perceive to be.
We can have a positive vision of ourselves and see ourselves as someone who makes a lot of money, as a successful person or as a physically attractive person. In our minds, that is our true self.
However the world might disagree, and it shows you the identity you have for yourself is not true. You suffer as a consequence.
I will give you a few examples to illustrate my point. You think of yourself as someone who is physically attractive. People are always complimenting on your looks. Your belief to be a beautiful man or woman has being cemented.
One day, you realised that you are receiving less and less compliments and you begin to question your identity.
Your belief is being tested. You don’t feel so confident anymore. What happened ? Maybe you gained some weight? Maybe your face has changed? Or you are simply getting old!
Another good example is that of a pro athlete who has been for years the talk of the town. Everybody loved you for your ability to shine under the spotlight. Money, fame, women...
You live under the roar and the acclaim of the crowd. Cheering for you. That is what happened when you were young but as time goes by, you age. Father time is undefeated. Inevitably, your performances decrease.
The crowd start to love other younger players and you spend more time on the bench than on the court, till one day you retire.
Now you are not a pro athlete anymore. Now you are retired and you realised that the pro athlete identity does not fit you anymore.
The best example in my opinion is someone who has had a lot of success in life, especially in business and has increased his financial wealth as a result.
Everybody thinks you’re a badass. Everybody thinks you are so inspiring. People want your advices. They want to partner up with you.
One day, the market crashes, you made a few wrong calls and everything goes down south. You are left with only a very small portion of what you had before or you are bankrupt.
All the doors that were opened for you before are now closed. You went from one extreme to another and it hurts .... I will follow up on this later in this post.
The flip side of the coin are the negative beliefs. Deep down you see yourself as a failure, good-for-nothing, ugly, fat or stupid.
Those beliefs are conscious and subconscious. They are so present in you that you barely notice them but they keep you in the status quo.
Now let me illustrate with a few points. You look at yourself in the mirror and you are obviously fat. Your mind also holds a vision of you being fat.
Perhaps one day when you woke up, you decide to start losing some weight in order to be fit and be healthier. You begin a diet and it goes well for days and even weeks. You are lighter on the scale.
One day, you open the fridge or you’re out with friends and you cheat on your diet. You do it once, twice and boom you are out of control! You give up on your diet and find yourself back to square one.
Another example ... You are not very gifted in the brains department. Not very well endowed with intelligence. How do you know ?
Well, you have been called stupid since you were able to take a test. Everything you do is seemingly dumb and you think you will never amount to anything.
Opportunities might come your way. You might take a course to improve. You may get help from tutors, mentors or friends.
Yet you dismiss all of them because deep down you think you’re too dumb. No matter what you do, it won’t matter because you have been cursed by the demons of stupidity and doomed to be an idiot!
One last example for the road. You started a business. You had all the excitement, motivation and naivety of one who starts a first business.
After some time, you realise that it is much, much harder than what you expected. More and more obstacles come by your way.
The hurdles seems to get higher and higher and you don’t feel like you can overcome them anymore, so you quit.
Now you are failure or at least that’s how you feel. Other opportunities come along but you refuse. You got back to your comfort zone feeling like shit.
You will never try again. Try what ? Risk another venture? Something seemingly out of reach? Why ? Because now you see yourself as a failure and you believe you can’t succeed in life.
Attachment to beliefs
Now let’s talk about why getting attached to belief can lead you down the rabbit hole whether they seem positive or negative.
Life is constantly changing. Everything is transient and ephemeral. Everything is subject to birth and to decay.
The Buddha asked his disciples why would you be attached to something that will ultimately change? Something that you can’t control and will ultimately be stripped from you?
Attachment is a dangerous business. We talked often about attachment to people and things but we always forget something that can be even more insidious.
The attachment of the ego to identities can destroy us or keep us stagnant in an unsavoury situation.
We should all start by being aware of the little control we have in life. People will see us and think of us in a certain way.
Looks fade. Businesses fail. Our circumstances can change abruptly. And sometimes there is really nothing you can do.
The little we can do is within our minds. We can decide to have a positive vision for ourselves.
We can see ourselves as healthy, happier, successful human beings. We don’t need to hold beliefs of ourselves as losers, ugly, unworthy of love, etc..
We also don’t need to be attached to the positive vision we have of us. We should start to be aware that life is transient and we are going to fail, meet obstacles but we can also be happy.
Wherever you are in life. Self awareness is an essential tool. Look at where you are. At who you are. Is there more of your potential that you can achieve ?
You’re good enough. You don’t need to resent or be complacent of who you are right now. Regardless of how shitty it may seem at the moment.
Guilt and resentment won’t help you. You need to accept, embrace and be kind to you at all times. Follow the vision you have for a better self. Nurture the good in you, for it will grow if you do.
Leave attachment aside. Your vision serves as a pin on a map. Not the be-all and end-all. Happier people achieve more. Learn to enjoy the journey.
Visualise and visualise more of the person you want to be. Nurture this image then let go. Do not get attached. Stay present and with consistent steps in the right direction your vision will become more tangible.
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