The Struggle to Figure Out Who We Are
So identified with who we are not, most of us will get dizzy trying to understand this post. Yet I encourage you to pierce through the dense shell of words and letters to the essential yolk of meaning within this writing, for it is there you will remember who you are.
Most of us struggle to feel an enduring sense of identity. We fail to know who we are. It is like we are naked, bare of self. Feeling naked, we grab for the nearest clothing we can put on. Knowing not the timeless and unchanging part of ourselves, we clothe ourselves with borrowed bits and pieces. We “put on” a sense of identity, rather than wear our own. We take on a piece of mom, a part of dad, a little from our friends, a bit of our heros, and a whole lot of what we see worn by society. A patchwork quilted suit of self, stitched together from what we perceive around us, is what emerges from our taking. In our daily lives, we identify ourselves with whatever we believe is most fashionable. Bling. Boats and cars. Gadgets. Big houses. Prestigious titles. Even our thoughts are matched to the popular beliefs of the day. But in doing so, in attaching our sense of “I” to tangible objects or personal thoughts, we feel ourselves to be impermanent, disposable. Without apparent purpose or meaning. And, we set ourselves up for chronic grief and loss.
For when we inevitably lose those things to which we have become attached or identified, we lose a part or whole of who we think we are, to the degree to which they comprise our transitory perception of identity. This happens to us in relationship because of how we identify ourselves with other people. If we gain a sense of self from being a wife, a husband, a girlfriend or boyfriend, we will feel the loss as life shattering when we divorce, break-up, or lose our loved one to death when they pass. In addition, the love we hold for them will be conditional, that is, we will love them on condition that they make us feel a certain way about ourselves, a sure sign that we have over-identified with them in a not-so-healthy way. If we gain a sense of self from being a parent, then we set ourselves up for loss when our children move out to live their own lives. Furthermore, being over-identified with our children, we will tend toward an enmeshed parenting style of being overly involved with our children’s lives and each of their decisions. (Whereas a healthy parent facilitates learning, decision-making, and independent life skills in their children.) We “lose”. Think about it. The meaning of the word, according to Merriam-Webster, is largely associated with perceptions of destruction, damnation, sin, deprivation, failure, disadvantage and defeat. All of that which causes suffering for humanity. Yet, the word also conveys freedom. Freedom from that which weighs us down, literally. And love, as in losing one’s heart to fall in love. Clothing is temporary. We take it off or put it on according to the circumstances, the event, the crowd, the weather. Such is the personality self. The thicker the material layer we heap upon ourselves, the greater the distance between our personality and our authentic self. With introspection, we come to know this little self to be a fake, a fraud. We are anxious, afraid of being busted. We lose our sense of value and confidence, and sink deeper into sadness the longer we entertain this self-imposed imposter, this thief of our essential being. When we align ourselves with that which is external to ourselves, we align ourselves with this illusionary state of self, the one that changes with time and tide. So how do we get back to knowing who we are, and realizing our core sense of self? By freeing ourselves from that which weighs us down, from our perception of a little cut-off and lonely self, from our material stockpiles, from our imagined needs, from our desires and fears. By re-orienting and re-turning to connection with that which is always present within and without. It is this internal, more subjective ethereal self that is paradoxically of greater substance, worth and meaning. One only has to consider the power within atomic and nuclear forms of weaponry, compared to those based upon material forces, in order to glimpse this truth. It is this core energetic self which endures beyond even the death of the physical body, as scientists are beginning to document; and yet which brings forth a measurably unique signature, sound, and vibration as it emerges within time and space as form. It is this archetypal sphere of consciousness for which we long to align and with which we are congruent when we are being authentic. It is this self that we hear as the “little voice inside”, the one that pulls and motivates us forward up the path named love. It is this that we may call soul, monad, presence and higher self, depending on our progress. The more inclusive our sphere of love, the wider our sense of identity, and therefore the more deeply we feel identified with that which we have named God. Identification is a choice, moment by moment. To identify with that which is innermost and real, although comparatively intangible? Or to identify with that which is visible to our eyes, with material substance and that which fades away.
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