Aspects of Identity and Dis-identity
By Deyna Devi on March 28, 2022
I hear a lot of talk about identity and people wanting to discover and explore who they are. Who is this ‘I’ that inhabits this physical form, breathes and lives, thinks and feels?
So let’s focus on this particular aspect by using 3 aspects of identity:\
Firstly there is a collective social concept of identity at a superficial level: these are the gross labels of mother, father, husband, wife partner, daughter, son, colleague, boss etc. With these we are able to place ourselves within a wider environment and it is a way of connecting to others and the world around us. We can quickly build attachment to these roles and limit our self to hedonic living without inquiry as we mechanically live a life of actions, reactions and interactions from these socially constricted constructs.\
As we delve deeper into identity we can question and consider what it means to us: this is the eudaimonic level. We may use adjectives of comparison such as good or bad, positive or negative. Or we may have more subtle nuances such as resentful, caring, loving… or my favourites … over or under! If our self-esteem is sufficiently robust we can ascribe our own meaning and qualities to our identities. All too often we allow others to allocate the adjectives (particularly those we consider significant) to our identity which we can either elevate esteem or deplete it: it is the genesis of emotional abuse, often unintentional but powerful none-the-less. At the eudaimonic level we\
We can also have intention at this eudaimonic level and aspire to change, evolution and cultivation of a helpful, healthy relationship with identity. Out of balance this can also manifest as striving for perfection and exert a relentless egoic pressure that is ultimately unhelpful and unhealthy.\
What is your eudaimonic interaction with superficial identity?\
What happens if we hold our identities more lightly? Beyond the ego is our transcendental realm where we can sit back, relax and enjoy the play of life that unfolds before our senses. We can watch our self in each role and be fascinated with our shape-shifting identities and even our ability to act various parts, sometimes concurrently! And we can observe objectively, with love, compassion and non-judgement. Others may write a review of our performance and it may be adverse - can we smile, absorb any feedback that resonates in a useful, helpful way and then put it down and read another kinder, affirming review? As a newspaper analogy we can read, react, adjust our role if so moved and then use them to light a fire and keep our hearts warm, glowing and alive … the words then lose their power and we simply bathe in light.\
Ultimately our aspiration is to dis-identify … watch our identities and know that they are not us …. the self that is born and dies. Identity is a dance of colours, illusory shapes and forms and content always moving, changing and evolving within our known world.\
As humans we are obliged to live the paradox of unreality as though it is real, as though it matters, as though identity defines us. It doesn’t. Our lives are but a note in the song, a blink of an eye, a twitch … relevant but irrelevant. To dis-identify is to recover our true identity; to disconnect from each role is to authentically connect with it, however it manifests and morphs.