I D E N T I T Y

Who Am I?

A question that is often frustrating. The ‘me’ you met yesterday is not the same ‘me’ as today – I am constantly growing, constantly evolving, constantly a beautiful work in progress. As are you.

As we grow through our different seasons of life, we all attach ourselves to various things that make up our identity: it may be a sport’s team, a school, a job position, a religion, a country, a diet, a political party, a neighbourhood, friends and the list can go on… On one hand, these aspects of our identity can help when we make decisions about who to support, what to eat, who to spend time etc. However, I have found that once our minds get too entangled with the various aspects of our identity, when we encounter a person, situation or idea that may be dissimilar to our own, it can be difficult to not close our minds to it. We then open ourselves up to emotions like guilt, pain and suffering.

Recently, I have been trying to look at aspects of my identity with non-judgement. Whilst meditating, I have been trying to focus on different ideas that I have attached myself to over time, in order to make changes to the concepts and patterns that no longer serving me.

A form of prejudice

Let’s think about it together; we could say that we identify with things because of a need for security, comfort and/or self-preservation. Yet, our attachment to our identity could give us a false sense of belonging as it doesn’t last; we are constantly changing and evolving. The moment we allow ourselves to be entangled with an identity, our thinking will only circle around that. We are then unable (or unwilling) to think or see around these identity circles. Surely this process can be seen as a form of prejudice and discrimination? A prejudice mind cannot see how things really are as it’s closed and rigid. Our minds are not free or open but trapped day after day to an identity and limited way of thinking/ seeing. This in turn inhibits our freedom to choose how we want to live.

So, how can we detach ourselves from this rigid way of thinking about who we are and the world we live in? Well, by choosing to do so.

We have a choice

Firstly, we can focus on one of the things we identity with, bring it clearly into our minds, and say: “This helps to create a part of who I am but it is not me…” This money, this religion, this diet, these friends, my partner all help to create a part of who I am… but they are not me.

After this, we can be mindful of the emotions that arise. Do you feel lighter? Or, do you feel heavier and fearful?

If we feel lighter, this may suggest that we are not attached to this aspect of our identity and are living without guilt or suffering in relation to this. However, if fearful emotions arise, we need to ask ourselves why. What are we afraid of? Why can we not let go?

In doing this self work, we are not losing who we think we are, we are simply letting our attachment to our identity go. We need to remember that the idea of a fixed identity can close our minds off to the magical differences in the world and can block out the potential for empathy, growth, and the realisation that, at the end of the day, we are all more similar than we grow up to believe. Let’s choose to see outside our identity circles, to drop our prejudices and open our minds to possibilities.

Life is but a vapour.

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