Imagine: you are waking up in the morning……on a different planet. You have absolutely nobody and nothing but your Self. There are no Rules on this planet, there is nothing To Do and you are all by yourself.
The only object you do have (miraculously) is a mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror with some detachment: who is this person? what are they feeling? what are they thinking? who are they?
I first learnt a version of this exercise from my life coach friend a long time ago and I still remember how hard it was for me. Having spent 5 years in higher education, 15 years in science, nearly a decade back then teaching and practicing as a therapist of Colourpuncture – all the while raising the family in 3 different countries, how could I possibly have imagined myself outside of all these roles and identities??
If you take this exercise seriously – and with a good measure of detachment from your current self image or reputation – this will make for a big step on your path towards your Self, your better health and wellbeing, and most importantly, Joy.
We are not our roles. We are not a manifestation of somebody’s (or our own) expectations on ourselves. And we are certainly not what we own.
Identity problems is a major barrier to sustainable health
Identity problems present the 1st barrier to Sustainable health and Wellbeing. And it has an extra importance: if a sense of Self, a clear, happy and fully owned identity are not there then whatever we are doing to help ourselves with our health and wellbeing (self-help, asking for help, receiving help) is going to have a marginal effect. We are going in circles as we don’t know where we are going: we don’t know ‘who’ we are helping. But well hidden underneath multiple ‘roles’, public persona, expectations and a distorted self image, there is a real you: you as you are, your core individuality and this ‘inner you’ might not at all be somebody you and people close to you know very well.
Unless cultivated from the very beginning by extremely observant and open minded parents and other grown ups in our earlier years, our real Self takes time to show up fully. Recognising, respecting and really seeing this internal core from a somewhat detached but fully compassionate perspective also takes effort and focus. Becoming a good listener to our Self takes courage. Cultivating the Self takes skills.
Identity problems almost inevitably lead to Relating problems: without clear understanding and fulfilling our own core needs we can not relate on an equal footing; without seeing ourselves clearly we can not see the Other clearly.
Needless to say that without a clear sense of Self we won’t be able to acknowledge and manage our emotions, own all chapters of our life experience and feel fully connected with people and places. We most likely will feel ‘fragmented’, and not interconnected, as a human being. Without a clear sense of Self we will be most likely busy fulfilling someone else’s dreams, and our contributions will be what is expected from us and not what we are truly gifted with.
And the Joy of Life is this elusive feeling which needs – as an absolute prerequisite for showing up – for all the key areas of our life to be in a dynamic order.
Possible manifestations of Identity problems:
- Poor sense of Self outside of our professional/social/family Roles
- A sense of incompetency coming from having grown up in a shadow of stronger/older/influential family members
- Not flowing or non lived creativity
- Identity problem (being not sure ‘who you are’)
- Infirm ‘roots’, a sense of non belonging (immigration is a common example)
- Not finding your tribe, ’ugly duckling syndrome’
- Disconnection of Personality from Individuality.
An example of Identity challenge
A professional woman, a working Mum is a typical example: fully engaged both in family and in career and ‘torn’ between the two main poles with a third pulling point being ‘everything else’: household tasks, everybody’s problems to solve. There is no space here to stop, breathe and even recognise that there is no time and place for herself in the picture of her life.
Solution to Identity problems:
The solution is some deep and bold but totally light hearted archeology of Self followed by acceptance and cultivating the Self which will pave the path to joy and celebration of our unique individuality illuminating and warming up the entire space of our life – and the lives around us, inside out.
The Self is like the Sun, the centre of our personal Universe giving energy to everything and everybody around; if this is compromised nothing else is fully possible.
Typical beliefs creating a conflict around a sense of Self:
- ‘It’s selfish to think of yourself’
- ‘It’s noble to put something/someone else first’
- ‘It’s selfish to take time to understand and develop who you are’
- ‘It’s noble to invest most of your time an energy into helping somebody else to grow and develop’
Our cultural conditioning creates an especially strong conflict when it comes to Identity problems: we don’t want be be seen as selfish (and we genuinely want to be of help) and we can’t usually quite answer the question of who we are from the first attempt unless we already invested time and focus into Soul searching .
However…there is a curiosity and excitement in finding out. And people around us? There is a JOY waiting for us on this path; the brighter we shine, the more of a generous warm glow around our Self we will develop – to share freely.
- What was your individual conditioning about importance of sense of Self?
- How is this conditioning effecting you now?
- If you are to describe yourself in just one word, which word would you choose?