How often do you find yourself saying I Am <blank>.
For example, for myself, “I am” could look like:
- A man
- A husband
- A dad
- A son
- A friend
- A software guy
- A nutritionist
- An author
- Bad at directions
- An average cook
- Terrible at playing the guitar
- Good with people
- Not that technical anymore
- Bad at keeping in touch
- Selfish sometimes
- Enjoy public speaking
- Limited to what I can earn in life
I could go on and on listing out different identities that I have adopted from stories that I have told myself over time and that I now believe to be true. With each identity that I have created and attached to myself, there comes a level of noise and maintenance with that. Some identities do not serve me well at all and represent limiting beliefs that in fact hold me back in certain areas of life e.g. not that technical, rubbish at guitar, can only earn so much in life.
While this list may not look too limiting on first glance, there are probably more identities lurking about in my sub conscious that are holding me back from really going big in life, I have just not yet uncovered them.
In a recent meditation class, we discussed this very topic. This thought pattern of “I am x,y,z” is not helpful and it artificially attaches an identity to your sense of self. If any of these identities ever falls away e.g. a marriage breaks up, you lose your job, you get sick, you lose touch with friends, this can bring great trauma and anxiety into your life. Effectively, you have coupled yourself to a fragile identity that is temporary and transitionary in nature. Identities come and go amid the constant change of life.
Challenge these identities as they appear in the mind and get comfortable with just “I Am”. That’s it, with nothing tagged on the end. Say this out loud slowly now several times…I Am, I Am, I Am. That’s it. There is nothing beyond it that is true and real.
I like to think of this like shedding a skin and doing it frequently. It can be invigorating, liberating and motivating to let go of these identities, to set them free. For example, if you went through a career change to become an author, your whole perspective can change and no doubt how other people see you will change. While you cannot control other peoples opinions, the smart way for you to look at this is not to state “I am an author” as your mind will immediately start to look for evidence everywhere to support that and if you don’t build the habits that support that identity, the identity starts to crumble and over time becomes “I am no good at writing”, “I am useless at writing”, “I am a failed author”. The trick here is not to adopt the identity in the first place.
If you want to spend your time creating a career as an author, that is great and I wish you well but see it for what it is – an activity that you enjoy and/or make an income from. It is not you.
Life is constantly changing, you can never stand in the same river twice and you are always evolving so, a bit like you are not your thoughts, neither are you the sum total of your identities.
I AM. That’s it.