In the first session with every new client, I go over the program I have written that has helped many people around the world find happiness, strength, confidence, love, power and health. I explain to them that finding who they are is crucial to the success of this program. The more confident and courageous clients tell me that they don’t really know what identity means. I like this honesty.
Unlike a drop of water, which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self
B. R. Ambedkar
A great many people find it hard to understand what “identity” means (let alone false identity). Kids, in particular, hear a lot about “identity”, but have no idea what it means.
To me, your identity is defined simply by being yourself. As long as you exist, you have a sense of who you are. However, this is very complicated, because it is not easy to answer the question, “Who am I?” If you ask people to define themselves, you will find many beliefs and concepts they have that bring them lots of grief, anger, frustration and fear.
In finding who we are, it is very important to find out who we are not. Some negative examples can helps us refine the definition. Every time we have a problem, it is because we live in a false belief about ourselves – we use a false identity.
Often we lose our identity trying to please or placate others
Mary Manin Morrissey
While coaching many clients over a long time, I have had the opportunity to answer the questions of who I am with every new client. Every time one my clients worked on finding his or her identity, I also learned to define and refine mine and came up with 10 things that are not my identity (my false identity).
I suggest you use this list as a mantra as often as you can. I have to admit it is not always easy to do it. I have been practicing it for years but still find myself in this false identity sometimes and it is always associated with pain and fear. This is usually a sign I need to go back to the mantra and remind myself that identity is something internal, it is within my core, and it is never ever under real threat.
- I am not my past
- I am not my future
- I am not what I possess
- I am not what others think of me
- I am not the group I belong to
- I am not the accumulation of my successes and failures
- I am not the accumulation of my skills, talents and traits
- I am not the way I look
- I am not the feelings I have
- I am not my thoughts
Think of yourself as a house or a temple. You have all those things inside you, but they are not who you are. They are residents in the temple and they come and go. They can live there for a short time (events, feelings and thoughts) or a long time (memories of the past), but they are not the house itself. If you look through the list, you will realize they can all be changed. Even our past keeps growing and our perception of it changes with perspective. Without them, the house will still stand. The existence of the house does not depend on those residents, only the condition of the house.
Materialism is an identity crisis
Bryant H. McGill
When you search for your identity, you can consider your past, your future, thoughts, feelings, possessions, group associations, successes and failures, but you are only going over the residents in your temple, not the temple itself.
It is healthy to go over the residents in your house. You can then get rid of some of them who don’t help you take care of your house of invite others that will help you take care of it, but it is important not to confuse between who you are and your various attributes.
So, take the list of false identities and change your definition of them to being parts of you, but not who you are. When this happens, you will find happiness easily.
Happiness is a choice!