Day 6: Identity and Ego/True Self States
Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form
When within thee the universe is folded? Ali quoted in Seven Valleys
The word identity in a transformational context means that you so experience and act on the energy of a particular virtue that you and others start referring to you as a person with that quality as if it were one of your names. When you are in the first stages of transformation the quality feels as though it is practically non-existent. Many people feel this way about the virtue of patience especially those who live in a fast-paced culture or work in a demanding corporation. Sometimes people have so little patience that it can be seen as a hindrance to achievement rather than enhancing it.
When I first seriously started studying emotional processes in the mid- 1980s, I knew almost nothing about it and had very few competences. But gradually over the course of a number of years I learned more and more. Then one day I was in a group where people were validating each other, and someone named me as person with a lot of emotional learning. It was quite gratifying. You can change your identity.
The most common mistake people make in transformation work is to have identity with an ego state. They say things like I am inflexible or I am not the kind of person who is adventurous or I am bad with math. Whenever you label yourself as an ego state such as reticent, then it makes the change seem like it is an impossibility because identity is experienced as a permanent condition.
The key is finding a way to name yourself in a positive manner without overstating your competence. You can say I am in the beginning aspects of being flexible. This way you are not lying, but you are moving in a positive direction. To become anything you simply need to attend to learning and changing each day. Then you wake up one day and you have actualized so much that it becomes one of your names.
The exercise today is find places in your life where you have identified yourself in a permanent way that is negative. Write down a few areas related to the process or virtue that you have chosen where you have a negative identity. For instance, if you are wanting to be more playful, you are maybe saying something to yourself like I am a really serious person. You can change it by writing some like I am starting to learn how to be playful. By doing this you take the cement out of the change process and put it into a flow. The key is to just flow.
I have found this very helpful. Just by saying to myself “I am starting to be more orderly” and other similar statements it motivates me to do at least one extra step and do something I may have just left and/or ignored