Why Would I Want to Create an Identity?
Yes, Sugar Blossom, after raging about the drawbacks of identities for the last few months, I am going to talk about how to build an identity (this is not the same as building a personal brand, that latest silliness in business strategy–silly in the in the REAL world of YOU, I mean.) A brand is a public image that you wish to cultivate and then use to sell an idea or products or whatever. Most people (I hope) don’t really believe that their branded self is their actual identity. Though I could be wrong about this…
What I’m talking about, Snookie, is the identity that you start to build even before birth, in a combination of what you absorbed from the people around you, when you were told (rightly or more usually wrongly) about who you are, and the stuff that you come up with seemingly on your own about who you think you are. These ideas construct who you think you are and that belief in who you think you are becomes how you experience yourself, which is the basis of your identity.
What You Have Built Your Identity Around Is Not Real
How does this identity thing happen exactly? Well, feelings, emotions and thoughts all arise in your being–you’ve experienced that, right? Did you know, however, that none of those are actually real? Feelings arise in reaction to something in the environment (whether consciously processed or subconscious), emotions are feelings with labels and you give the feeling whatever label fits into your view of the world and yourself (again either consciously or subconsciously), and then thought arises from emotion or feeling. Generally you are aware of your thoughts, or at least aware that you are having thoughts even if you are not paying attention to them. Why is this chain so important?
First, because thoughts, emotions and feelings seem real, but they actually arise from subconscious reaction, which is totally subjective and experienced only by you; in a different frame of mind, you react differently to the same stimuli. Second, because—and pay close attention to this—thoughts, feelings and emotions all want to BE real, to be GIVEN LIFE by you BELIEVING them to be true and thus making them part of your IDENTITY. The more they can hook you into believing in them, the more real they feel to you, like a self-induced Catch-22.
How Does This Reality Catch-22 Work?
Imagine the block of marble that Michelangelo eventually made into David. Each time he carved away a bit or rock he gave definition to the statue. When you believe a feeling, emotion, or thought to be REAL, you also give definition to an identity, by narrowing who you think you are and limiting your potentiality. When you narrow yourself in this way, you create a filter that you then need to screen reality through in order to make it conform to your identity and view of the world. Anything that doesn’t flow through the filter is rejected or ignored. You can see how this can really limit your experience of the world and keep you you.
The only way that feelings, emotions and thoughts become real is when you believe them, accept them as true, act on them and give them life as part of your identity. The thing about thoughts, emotions and feelings is that they really, really want to be real. May of them are very compelling, especially when a feeling, emotion and thought all line up together in a way that reinforces some idea, belief, or identity that you already believe is real. This is why it can be so difficult to step back from them and the you they define as simply see them as passing phenomena that limits you from being the limitless YOU.
You’ve Experienced Untrue Thoughts
My guess. Sweet Roll, is that you have had a few thoughts over the years that you were able to discard as unreal, like when standing on a top balcony of a 20-story building and the thought comes, “I wonder what would happen if I jumped off?” Well, Sweet Muffin, unless you have mastered levitation or flying, you would go splat. It’s easy for most people to disregard this thought and go on to thinking something else.
So why is it so hard to disbelieve the thoughts that reinforce, or even strengthen, your beliefs? In part, it is because Bizarro World is all about identity, building one, having one, using one to mark your place in the world an differentiate you from other people. The problem with this is that when you keep carving and carving, like with the David sculpture, you end up with what is perhaps a beautiful work of art, but one that is so rigid in its definition that it is impossible to move, to grow, to be in flow, to recreate yourself as life changes around you. If you believe your identity to be the real and true you, what happens when something shatters your world and that constructed identity that you carved so diligently implodes?
Yea! An Identity Crisis!
An “identity crisis” is really having a wall of your core beliefs all collapse at the same time, and can be great for snuggling up to your YOU–if you allow yourself to. Most people don’t, and instead rush to fill up the spaciousness created by the collapsed beliefs with other, often more rigid, beliefs. This conundrum of believing your identity to be true causes all sorts of havoc, and people spend their time and effort trying to prove that they really are who they believe themselves to be, even at the expense of their joy, their success, even their sanity. I’m talking other people here, Lemon Drop. You’d never do that, would you?
Play of the Day!
Notice your thoughts as they arise. Notice which ones are the absurd ones that tell you to jump off a building and others easy to disregard, and especially notice which thought carry you away, the ones you identify with, make true by believing them, acting on them, letting them define you. Noticing what is going on in your mind and body from an observer point of view are key to step out of your you and into living as YOU.