What is an Identity?

 In Empowerment, Love, Non-attachment, Suffering, Trust

In my work, both personal and professional, I spend a lot of energy becoming aware of identities, both my own and supporting those I work with in uncovering theirs.

But what is an identity?

Here’s a simple example. We are all born FREE. Completely, infinitely free. But soon after we’re born, we start responding to and being conditioned by the world around us. In my case, I developed an early age the identity of being self-sufficient. This came from a feeling that others’ needs were more important than mine and so it began to feel like a waste of energy to share my needs or ask for them to be met. Regardless of what the actualities of my childhood are, this is an identity I created: I will do it my damn self.

Where we can find empowerment in discovering this identity (also called a story) is in letting go of what actually happened to create this story and seeing that at its core, it’s completely hollow. Transparent. Nothing. When I see that, feel that, breathe that, I get to choose to be free again.

This morning, the aforementioned identity came up and smacked me in the face. It’s one that I’ve seen in my intimate relationships repeatedly this year, that others’ needs are more important than mine, so I will just take care of my damn self. It’s an identity that causes me to not state my needs or desires for fear or disappointment. It’s an identity that puts me in a holding pattern of fear and traps me into not expressing what’s alive under the surface of, “No, it’s fine.” And it makes it difficult to trust.

So, I have a choice: I can hide behind this identity, fault others for playing into my pattern and stay locked away in hiding. Or, I can see that whenever I feel that way, it’s most likely just the world bumping up into my identity and rubbing my bruise until it hurts. I can let it go. Again and again, every time it rears its head. Most powerful of all: I can love the shit out of that identity. I can hold it, embrace it, see it, accept it, love it, sing to it, cry with it, ask others to love it, and let it be absorbed and dissolved as part of me.

The more I meditate, ask for self-reflection with people on the Path, and pause to listen deeply to the ripples around me, the more the strings of my identities start to unravel. At times, this feels very liberating. At times, it feels dismantling and shattering. Today, it feels like a mix of both, the complexity of being both human and divine. Dissolving into the ocean of, well, myself.

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