Is identity the showcase of the Self?
Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
If I did not think about myself would I have an identity? Would I have an idea about what I am?
I would like us to ask ourselves these questions without theorising. Let us ask ourselves the question without giving an immediate response. Let us read the questions again and let the questions lie within us. Let us go slowly. Since we all have an idea about what we are like, where does it come from? Let us ask this. Since we were babies, have we always been the way we now say, or think, we are or have we developed some ideas about ourselves over the course of our lives? Like thinking that I am intelligent, understanding, rich or poor, vulnerable or secure, feminist, sexist, progressive, conservative, a good husband/wife, misunderstood, friendly and amusing, efficient, sincere, impulsive, revolutionary, etc.
Do the ideas I have accumulated about myself comprise my identity, what I call “I”? I am this way. Do I feel annoyed if something is said about me that I dislike, because I think that I am not like that? What happens inside me when this occurs? Do I feel attacked in some way? What has been attacked? Let the questions lie without responding automatically. Could it be that what has been attacked is the idea, the image I have of myself? That could cause a certain amount of pain, could it not? If someone at work or in your family tells you that you have done something wrong, how do you feel? How do you react? Do you defend yourself or feel that maybe they are right and question your behaviour and your motives?
Let us be very honest about this, otherwise we will not learn anything new. Do my ideas about myself and about everything force me to see myself and the world in a certain way, which, moreover, is always the same?
Do we realise that we are defending the ideas we have about ourselves? What happens in life if we invest our energy in defending these ideas that have formed in our minds? By defending our identity is it possible to discover something new about ourselves or others? Can any changes come about If our thoughts are always directed towards defending what we already believe is true?
Can we live or relate to others without defending the ideas we have about this or that? Let us be sincere, because this is not easy. Let us see that we are full of pre-conceived ideas (prejudices) about ourselves and about all sorts of things. What would happen if you did not take it for granted that these ideas were true and did not live that way? Do you feel that abandoning that certainty about your ideas would make you vulnerable or do you feel that you would welcome the chance to perceive things honestly, without pre-conceived ideas, directly and without filters?
Do you want to carry out the experiment? Observe how it manifests itself in your life today. Observe whether the tendency to defend our image or our idea of ourselves and our thoughts about anything, is the same. When you realise that defences occur, set them aside and listen instead of defending. You may find a different way of perceiving yourself and, consequently, everyone else.
If you discover something, you can comment about it on this page. Be sure that you will help. I wish you some pleasant research!