Personal Identity: The "I Am" Factor

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By Peter and Helen Evans

In our class, Relationship as a Spiritual Practice, one of the exercises is to ask students to make a list beginning with the words, "I am... " and then fill in the blanks until they've described themselves. If you'd like, why not do the same thing? Just begin with "I am", and fill in the blanks and continue to do that for 25 (or 2,000) times, until you've reached a natural conclusion.

Now as you look at your descriptive statements, remember all the times you felt doubt, fear, stress, etc. They were when someone or something threatened your "identity", one or more of your "I am... " statements.

Well, who made up that list of "I am"s?

They are merely roles and attributes you've selected to show to the world who you are. It's an incomplete description of who you are, isn't it? It's finite.

When your consciousness expands beyond your personality self into more of your true nature, you'll find that you don't have to "defend" these identities as much. We've heard hundreds of stories where someone says "my parents made me into this" or "my spouse made me do this" and yet they hold onto these "imposed" identities and will fight to maintain them. Pretty funny when you think about it. Sally says, "Sam made me so angry", and yet Sally holds on to her anger (makes "being angry" her identity) simply because someone else "made" her do it. Much the same as if someone forced you to put on a clown suit and then, all of a sudden you decide you ARE a clown and begin defending your clown act, your clown-ness.

As you consider your list of 'identities', you may begin to realize that they are simply 'experiences' you have had, or are having. This is a change from your ordinary surface consciousness, which thinks that those experiences ARE YOU. You do indeed experience them AND you also are aware of "something else" (your true identity?) that is having these experiences. Does that mean you should accept the status quo just because "that's the way it is now"? No need for that, you have the power of your thought and actions to attract more of what you like and less of what don't like into your life.

Holding on to one's identity at the personality level may become defensive when others don't think like you. You may think you're 'talented', and someone else has a different opinion of what 'talented' is. You begin the fight over "who's right". You don't have to make others think like you. You don't have to convince others you are "right". The phrase describing the path to freedom is "Know Thyself", it's not "convince others of who you are".

Do you know who you are?