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Miruspoint Facilitators

Identity – Pieced Together Day by Day

in Prime Potential

Child piecing togetherWelcome back…

You may have noticed the space between my last blog and this one, or not, but either way I want to share the reason – I have just moved – into a wonderful new home, with three other friends/colleagues. So a new chapter begins and it is very exciting. Our home is large enough for gatherings/workshops and all kinds of creative endeavors.

So now to the topic for today – identity. If you haven’t watched or read the last blog, I strongly encourage you to do so, as it will give you the overall perspective I take on identity and why it is so important.

Today I would like you to consider a radical idea – that each of us needs to change our “identity”! And the million, or billion, dollar question might be – “Why? Why do we need to change our identity, and what’s wrong with the one I have?

To answer this question, we need to start with how we have each formed our identity. I think the best way to explain this is to use a metaphor. Imagine you have actually built your identity, like a “framework,” or skeleton and every wire, bolt and piece of metal represents an experience you have had. Some experiences have been more significant, and so they have formed a more central part of your framework. Your successes are part of your framework, as are your failures, hurts, traumas, and betrayals. As you grew, went through school, did activities or not, went with the wrong crowd, got into drugs or alcohol, were popular, or a loner, everything latched onto this framework and made it more and more “real.” Even the roles we play – wife, husband, parent, brother, sister, boss, employee, artist, athlete, musician, etc., all contribute to this framework and are ultimately limiting. Oh, and, by the way, the framework includes beliefs – about yourself, life, others, et cetera. Beliefs like, “I am smart,” “I am stupid,” “I am damaged,” or “I can’t trust people”… and the list goes on. Without realizing it, you began living inside this framework, believing it was who you really were.

As a therapist I didn’t realize this was how it worked, and so I spent a great deal of time helping people “cope” better inside the framework, not realizing it was the framework itself that was constricting them. This realization was a dramatic turning point, and I now understood people needed to find a way to release this framework/identity, and build a foundation for their identity that was not based on “externals.”

So let’s pause here for a moment and let me ask you, do you feel like you have been caught inside of something that perhaps you can’t even name, and somehow you aren’t really free to be as creative, spontaneous, loving or powerful, as you really want to be?

I certainly felt that way, and I recognized it by my yearning to be more like certain people I had observed. They seemed so much freer to be themselves, they cried more easily than I did, and yet didn’t get all “jammed up” with their tears. The tears just flowed and then they were over. Wow! I recognized my own “constriction” by all the things I didn’t allow myself to do: sing loudly, paint outside the lines, dance wildly, and so on. You get the picture. As an adult I finally had a word for what I wanted, and that was “authenticity.” As the Velveteen Rabbit said, “I want to be real!”

So if we are all walking around inside a framework that is constructed, and not intrinsically who we are, then “improving” that framework isn’t really going to free us, is it? So what’s the option? The option is to recognize that a “Constructed Identity,” built on all the external feedback we have received, and all the things that have happened to us, is not who we truly are. We actually are authentic beings with an Authentic Identity that we need to embody. Now I know, as soon as I typed those words, I could hear the question so how do I do that?

That’s a really big question, and I’ll get to it. Before that though, I’m going to talk about why we all love to be victims. No matter how vigorous we protest against this idea, I’m convinced it shows up in each of us every day, whether we’re aware of it or not.

Do these ideas excite you? Frighten you? Make you wanna run and scream? Let me know what you think… I’d love to hear your questions or comments.

8 comments… add one
  • Rachel White

    I look forward to hearing more! I am learning about my “way of seeing and recreating” my “story” everyday and realizing how it really isn’t working for me…. Now the work is how do I get out of it and be free? Miigwetch my friend! Xo

    • Yes Rachel, that is the question, how do I let go of my “story”? Recognizing that you are the one creating it is very important because that opens the door for ownership and that you could in fact create something different. In my work with trauma and abuse I saw how tightly people clung to their “stories” and how the traumas formed key pieces of their Constructed Identity. If that is all I have, of course I am going to cling or defend that Identity. Otherwise it feels like I have nothing. Allowing your mind to consider the idea that in fact, there is another identity, present and waiting, is a great next step. This is such a big idea that it takes time to “digest” it. We often downplay this and skip over what it takes to really let something in, fully. Imagine I said to you that gravity really doesn’t exist and that you just think it does. How many things in life would change if there was no gravity? Heaps! Hard to imagine life without gravity, even with movies like Gravity, around. So if this was really true it would take a significant amount of time to really absorb the idea of no gravity, and I can feel inside myself the the arguments mounting, the desire to argue and say “Yes it does exist…”
      So the idea that who you thought you were is not actually true, is very radical, and takes some time to “grok”. Good luck with this and please keep in touch. I wish we were closer to do some work together.

  • I agree with this notion of changing our identity rather than fixing the one we have! I am not sure exactly how many times that my identity has changed in my life (4 for sure) and always as a result of further understanding who I am. I believe part of the conditioning we have through out life is a fear around change and letting go. We have developed a propensity for holding on to everything even when we are clear that it is not worth holding on to.

    Keep up the great work Lynn!!

    • Yes our propensity for holding on is deeply rooted in the system because it believes it needs to hold on to the past in order to protect and be safe in the present. This is so ironic as our actually safety lies in being fully in the present but this is a very different way of “being”. It is so easy to write or say these words but the whole paradigm of being present, is very foreign to most of us. When people actually experience in their bodies, the radical difference between their Constructed Identity and their Authentic one, they get a glimpse of how radically different those states are. For example, the whole concept of safety almost feels irrelevant when you are in your Authentic Identity. When I ask clients about safety they look puzzled or even laugh, as if to say how silly that you would even ask about this. Amazing eh! Yet when you are in Constructed Identity, safety and security are extremely important.
      In regards to changing our identity we often do that as we move through stages of development, take on different roles etc. In my experience the shift I am talking about is so all-encompassing, so fundamental, that cuts across all the contexts and roles in life. I know you have experienced some pretty life-changing events so it would be interesting to chat about what shifts you have made and this could shed some light for others too!

  • Brian Sebastian

    This blog post resonates with me right now, thank you for sharing it Lynn. The more deeply and honestly I listen, the more I hear this message coming back. For me its saying that the cause of my suffering is my attachment to the external world reinforcing my identity for me. The more I let go and allow myself to be this authentic presence, open to new ways of looking at the world, the more at peace I am.

    • Thanks for your comment Brian and it sounds like you are really on the path to letting go of the “old” way of understanding yourself and being in the world and stepping into a very different way of being. The other day I said to a colleague there is a tremendous difference between addressing symptoms and distress and “evolving”. You can address many challenges, even really serious ones like health, and not necessarily be stepping into a different paradigm or way of being. All suffering is a result of attaching and this attaching always means we are hooked into the past. Even though it can seem difficult, being in the present is always the place of freedom, expansion, creativity and joy. Recognizing this is our true nature is the “updating” we need to do in the way we think of ourselves. Got a little excited here, hope this is not too much info.

  • Lucie Lalumiere

    I have come to realize the importance of being willing, open, curious and courageous when looking in (and out since it is the same). There is also a growing appreciation (and yes sometimes some big NO’s) to opening to my blind spots. The biggest gift at this moment is knowing that it can be done, we can do that for each others with the support of friends, counselors, and what life brings in front of me. I reach out and stay as open as I can to receive.
    Thank you Lynn for bringing your life out so freely. Lucie

    • Thanks for your lovely words Lucy and it is very exciting to be on the path of really birthing who I am and supporting others in the process too. As I said to you I realize now that my past experience as a midwife seems to be coming out in a new form, as I help birth people’s true identity. I look forward to any other insights you have.

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