How do we identify ourselves nowadays? It’s considerably more complicated than previously. Depending on the form we’re asked to fill out, there’s a drill down that can extend to two and three pages!
We’re asked to cite our age, sex, nationality, ethnicity, political party, religious affiliation, income, residence, medical history, marital status, academic history, personality, social status… not to mention sexual orientation and what bathroom you can use.
Surely, none of us are any one thing. How we identify evolves as we pass through the stages of life, growing and maturing. Along the way, we acquire, and discard, labels pinned on us so we can be sorted out and placed in a category.
The process can be perplexing.
At birth, we are given identifying traits for which we have no choice, such as race and sex and physical attributes. Some genetics lead to privilege… and some lead to pain.
Our early family backgrounds and environmental influences are all-pervading and lead us to choose careers, religion, political affiliation, relationships and similar identifying descriptors that we accept and adopt as our own as a matter of course.
Over time, an inner source of probity takes root, and provides the authentic core of our identity and the qualities that make us unique: moral behaviors, fundamental values, and deep-seated beliefs.
The discomfort arises when there is disconnect between the ‘formed’ identity to which you have given power, and the essential nature of your authentic self. It bedevils us when the sum of our past – family, friends, schooling and life experiences. – creates an identity that is a façade. ‘True’ identity is shaped by shedding conditioned thoughts and beliefs and allowing the authentic self to emerge.
Here is what I find helpful. Each morning I say a mantra, “May I awaken to the light of my own true nature.” It is a reminder to start the day consciously aware, mindful of my identity as a spiritual being having a physical experience. Consciousness is the core of my identity, guiding my behavior, values and beliefs. Once found, your true identity can never be lost since it has been present all along.