The Secret of You - The First Step - a Case of Mistaken Identity

(This article is a blend of conclusions drawn from my own search for truth, experiences with my clients as well drawing upon the concepts eloquently discussed in the books listed at the end)

Humans interact using labels, concepts and images. We exchange them in conversation all the time in order to convey what we want others to understand. We especially like labels to define things. When we introduce ourselves to someone, our labels are the starting point. The first label comes from the question “Who are you?” with the reply being our name (label). Then the next question in polite conversation is often “and what do you do?” with the answer usually being one’s job or role in the form of another label (fireman, teacher, manager or mother, housewife, carer etc). This identifies you to others and so they are part of your identity. If you’ve ever lost your job you may well have felt lost and purposeless as if part of your identity was missing. But what or who are you really? What do you know as you?

 

We don’t usually see ourselves as one thing and we are an utterly unique blend of our actions, decisions, thoughts and more such as:

Most of us have numerous identities that we pull out of the bag when we need them in specific situations or with certain people in our lives. We adopt different roles and even become quite different people depending on the circumstances. Most of us think and act differently with our parents than with friends as different roles and parts of us are activated or inhibited as we feel appropriate or allowed.

All of these identities are false and inauthentic. The list above is not exhaustive but nearly all of these parts have something in common. They are either about our pain or the mind’s attempted solutions to escape from or deny our pain even exists.

The behaviours listed above are attempted solutions and are our “getters” because they get us something such as:

  1. Power – feeling superior = we don’t feel vulnerable
  2. Validation – we prove our worth to ourselves and the world,
  3. Safety – so we can relax
  4. Attention or love – to fill the loveless void in us
  5. Inflation – I feel good or the world sees me as having value.

These roles or identities switch on and off instantly and outside of our awareness. They are a futile attempt to get back to the oneness and unconditional love we came from, an effort to feel as good, whole and powerful as we did when we arrived here. In this context the mind is not so much an enemy but a well intended incompetent friend trying to heal us.

 

Heal us from what? This is explained a little more fully in my article “The Secret Begins……again“ but, put simply, whether we are aware of it or not, we all carry the pain of separation from where we came from, the pain of invalidation, powerlessness and the loss of unconditional love that happens to all of us in early childhood as well as the shame, guilt and self-condemnation that came from these events.

 

A simple model of us compromises 3 layers:

  1. Who we really are (I am love, compassion, oneness) that is covered by a layer of:
  2. Pain and self-condemnation that is in turn covered by:
  3. Attempted solutions by the mind which create a false identity (I must get love, compassion and seek oneness)

Looking at these 3 fundamental parts of us we are, all at the same time, perfect, damaged and a botched repair. Spiritually asleep and unenlightened, we are a blend of all of these parts and not just one thing. We blindly and automatically switch in and out of false roles and identities in any given situation in order to get our perceived needs met. Realising this, noticing what we do and what we are attempting to get is the first step to seeing through the lie that is the life that we created and believe so deeply to be real.

All of these identities must fail and at some point in our lives will cause us to feel the pain we have attempted to avoid or deny. Attempts to be perfect must lead to failure; worrying must lead to an unhappy life with more worry; the life of a martyr must lead to others running out of sympathy and loneliness; a beautiful body will sag and age; the controller will find life cannot be controlled; the list of tragic failure is endless. All failure causes temporary collapse back to the pain and self-condemnation.

Viewed another way, it’s a beautiful choreography of energy, thought and Spirit that gives us the freedom of choice to live in denial while at the same time providing a way back to the pain that can give the impetus to wake up and re-evaluate our actions or let us try making our false identity work by trying even harder.

 

We live in the age of instant everything with an endless array of books promising that you can change your life in minutes (you can, but not through more ego fixes). Lasting and worthwhile change is organic and by its very nature must be about releasing and embracing resistance and not trying to deny or suppress it. Noticing what you do and what you get from your behaviours is a necessary step and takes time and patience and may feel as if it will take you a lifetime or more.

 

It’s important because you cannot be who you really are and who you are not at the same time. That is why spiritual teachers say that you have to be prepared to let go of all you hold dear including your relationships if you are to discover the truth. Having the awareness of who you are not is essential if you are to absorb knowledge from the correct perspective.

The world of spirituality is not immune to the influence of human egos. Imagine not being aware of your need for perfection or of your tendency to berate yourself when you make mistakes and then embarking on a spiritual quest. What we end up with is someone who wants to be perfectly wise and then feeling very unworthy of spiritual love when the inevitable failure happens.

 

Suggested reading for a deeper understanding of this: