Identity as a Separate Entity
Identity as a Separate Entity (August 1994 - Added November 2002)
There's a lot of talk these days about identity and generally, developing one is considered to be a necessary and important part of fitting into society. Identity however, is not the positive, useful device it might be imagined to be. Having an identity and allowing one's life to be determined by its defining boundaries and characteristics only serves to limit our true freedom to be ourselves.
Freeing ourselves from the bonds of identity, often lovingly tended and developed, is not a straightforward process. There are, however, some methodologies that can be helpful...
It could be useful to abstract one's identity for a moment and to regard the identity as an independent component, a sole operator.
In some respects, this allows us a greater sense of the inherent qualities held by an identity. For example, we can appreciate that we are not the identity and the identity is not us. We and the identity are separate entities. While we may be influenced or affected by the requirements of identity, we may exert choice over whether this happens or not, even though it may sometimes seem as though we have no control over that process.
Also, if we isolate the identity, we are able to more easily explain irrational behavior that may seem foreign to our own perception of what we want in life. For example, in identifying defensive actions. We might more easily understand why we are doing something defensive if we regard that defensive action as being necessary to the survival of the identity, although it may seem to conflict with what we ourselves want.
Despite our seeming compulsion to accommodate the identity however, we never lose sight of ourselves or what we want - who we are, what we are and what we want remains intact. It's simply a matter of exposing our desire - separating it from the requirements of the identity. In order to do this, we must first determine the various characteristic aspects of the identity and how they operate with in our life.
Our life has been structured to ensure the fulfillment and survival of the identity. Once we've begun to expose the elements that support the identity, we may begin to dismantle the constructions that we have manufactured that perform that function. We must assume then, that every area of our life has been suited to the identity. Everything that we do and have fits within our impression of this identity. The clothes we wear, where we live and how we live, the friends we have, our hobbies or interests, our car, whether we have pets or not, the people we associate with, intimate partners, our work and so on and so on.
A useful way of learning more about the identity we have created would be to imagine a tangible representation of our identity. Create of it a real person - as though we might ask that person any question about any aspect of their identity and they could provide a detailed run down of their life and the aspects of it. Surprising as it may seem, that person knows everything we might ever want to know about our created identity. Ask it anything and we will receive an answer. For although we might try to hide it at times, we have an intimate knowledge of our own identities and what they prevent us from doing.
We know exactly how the identity will react in certain situations, what choices the identity will make, its preferences, likes and dislikes, etc etc. Most of all, that identity knows what we can't have, do and be. It is the knowledge of the absence of such aspects that is most detailed.
And so we have allowed this person, this identity figure, to create a network of known responses that determine the direction our life takes. This is perhaps why it can seem so difficult to make changes, the aspects are so interlinked.
However, there is a simple approach to changing aspects of identity. Put simply it is done through a desire to do so. A strong desire is all that is needed to provide the motivation for change. The methodology takes care of itself. And provided we as individuals are willing to recognize and take advantage of opportunities that come our way, then our desire will see us through and lead us to where we want to be.
Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1994 - 2002. All rights reserved.
Impression (April 1994 - Added November 2002)
The language of impression is a surprisingly detailed, yet elusive and thoroughly intriguing one. It's one of those largely intangible senses that have a deceivingly powerful influence over the way we live our lives. Impressions are in essence, snatches of emotional experience and because of the dominant influence of emotion, they can often represent a kind of doorway leading to an incredible storehouse of inspiration and previously unverbalised knowledge about the deeper aspects of our personality...
Impression, while being largely undefined, may at the same time, be highly specific. Our impressions of other people for example, if we were to explain them, could be described so accurately, that we might use one word in favor of another, even though the two words might at other times be freely interchangeable. The subtleties in their meaning would become significant in explaining our impression, an impression, that in reality is extensively detailed.
Despite this fact, when we experience impressions, we do not experience them in words as such, nor do we define them in more than a seemingly superficial manner at the time. However, criminals have been brought to justice, solely apprehended through the use of an identikit impression which might describe facial features. While the identikit will not be as accurate as a photograph, a cursory glance of an offender may be enough for an individual to accurately define his facial features and physical description sufficiently to set those details down in visual form - and for the offender to be recognizable by it.
Similarly, we 'recognize' our identities and the identities we have created for others through impressions we create within the framework of identity and as a result of the requirements of our first choice. When we are, for example, living our 'first choice' lifestyle, it is instantly recognizable and what is more, we have access to an intimate knowledge of this lifestyle, though we may never have verbalized it. In actual fact, we know every detail of that lifestyle simply by the impression that we have of the relationship between the lifestyle and ourselves.
A suitable analogy for this relationship can be found in a child's basic game - match the right peg with the right shaped hole. If we regard the hole, say the square hole, as the chosen lifestyle, and our square peg as our identity, our task could be defined as fitting our peg into the matching hole. If we try to insert our square peg into the round hole, it will not go. And what is more, we know right away that it does not fit.
Our task is to match our peg with the corresponding hole - match our identity with the chosen lifestyle. Fit the identity into the lifestyle. We will know right way when the peg fits the hole. There is only one peg that fits the corresponding hole - any deviation from the required shape and it will not go.
An element, which brings complication to an otherwise simple and straightforward concept, is that of illusion. Those illusions we create to interfere with this natural knowledge can be responsible for clouding our ability to recognize reality. Reactions, dissatisfaction and the experience of unpleasantness can lure us into paying credence to distortions of the truth. We can be convinced that our desire would have us living a different lifestyle and that in order to have that lifestyle, we must not enjoy the lifestyle we live now. We may be convinced that if we enjoy it, we will be stuck with it forever. We may be convinced that we will never have what we think we truly want because of some unknown conflict. We may for example, be convinced that our square peg is actually round and that it does not fit into the square hole. We might try to fit that peg into other holes, to no avail.
All of these illusions perform one simple but incredibly important function. They emphasize the greatest illusion of all - an illusion that we do not and can not have choice - that choice will play no part in the living of any lifestyle.
This illusion performs a further specific function. It is a fail-safe system. It ensures that we do not deviate from our chosen lifestyle, it keeps us from the temptation of more alluring lifestyles. However, in doing so, because these illusions tend to be absolute, the same falsities are applied to the first choice lifestyle also. So that not only are we unable to choose a dynamic or alternative lifestyle, we are unable to acknowledge the choice we have in living the lifestyle which represents our first choice.
The defensive processes needed to maintain our first choice themselves defeat the purpose of the first choice - that is, they rob us of the conscious experience and of enjoyment that our original decision linked to our impression of a first choice lifestyle. We are kept from that which we most want, even though we already have it. Unless we are able to acknowledge that it is what we want and that we choose it, it is never ours and we will be constantly driven by a desire to have it.
While the physical circumstances of our life might seem to be relevant, their relevance is small, for the only way we can really know when we have become, when we live our first choice, is by how our life feels. Impressions are most often experienced as feelings. But the depth of feeling is a little more complex than the feelings we are used to experiencing in an every day sense. An impression carries with it, not only feelings, but is heavily influenced by our perception. There is a distinct difference between pure perception and impression.
Perception is a capability which we develop and which involves the use of our senses and our intellectual processes. Impression is the result of those perceptions, combined with a kind of hidden agenda of other influences associated with the purposes and motives of identity. Rather like DNA or a kind of blueprint. Our identity provides a foundation for the way in which we create and perceive impression. The impressions we will gain and project in any situation are influenced substantially, by the need to uphold identity and the need to maintain certain perceptions. In other words, the impressions we are able to gain depend on the requirement at the time. Our state of being may be manipulated so that our perception might act in a particular way and thus a certain impression will result.
There is a myriad of influences involved in the creation of impression and in our perception of impression as projected by others. As children when we initially perceive the impressions that inspire us to choose a lifestyle, our perception of course is limited and therefore a factor in the kind of limited choices we might make as concerning lifestyle. However, essentially at this stage, the impressions we gain are not influenced by the need to maintain a decided identity. They are less influenced by the range of defensive mechanisms that adults are motivated to create. The adult processes of impression and perception are far more complex.
The impressions we give to others, may not be quite as they would perceive us. Their impression of us could vary from the impression we endeavor to project. This is because their perception and their requirements for identity are different from ours. In addition to this, the criteria for the interpretation of impression differs between individuals. In the simplest form, something one individual might perceive as a favorable impression, might be perceived as unfavorable by someone else. This is due to their motives, experience, perception, sense of appropriateness, identity requirements and so on, all being different.
Not only do we create impressions through non-verbal means such as our physical appearance, our actions and so on, but what we say may also play an important part in the framework of our relationships with others. For example, we might seek to give an impression of ourselves by our spoken observation and reaction towards others. Criticism works in this way. When we criticize someone else for doing something, we seek to give the impression that we not only disapprove of that action (by that person), but that we ourselves would never behave in the same way. This would be more usually verbalized, although we can *say' a lot through the way in which we communicate with our eyes, facial expression, disapproving noises and so on. Sometimes we may be perceived to be hypocritical by others if our verbal impression does not match with other impressions and aspects of identity which we communicate, possibly without conscious knowledge, in the way that we act or live our life.
In conclusion then, our first choice might seem to be complex combination of all of these kinds of influences and factors, however, in its complexity it is very simple. While it does seem that our knowledge of the first choice lifestyle is detailed and convoluted, it is also very straightforward. The physical circumstances of our life might change, yet our impression of our life can remain the same. This is essentially the reason for looking to our impressions, rather than the physical details of our life for clues about choice. The impression may be unchanging and therefore far easier to understand, than the often varied and transforming circumstances of the life itself. The solutions to life's greatest puzzles must always be simple - despite the fact that it seems to us at times, that if the riddle is complex so then must be the answer
Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1994 - 2002. All rights reserved.
We often see people trying to confine their progress
to specific and limited areas of life, perhaps to their professional lives, their sports or their hobbies. Our
years of experience have proven that if there is even one area an individual steadfastly refuses to examine or
to attend to in life, his or her progress will be limited by that resistance. A genuine willingness to change is
You may think that you have a problem changing some of the things that you know about in your life, but nothing
compares with dealing with those issues in your life that you don't
know about. And it is essentially what you do not know that can
cause you the most difficulty when you seek to change certain aspects of your life. It is also worthwhile recognizing
that issues cannot always be explained with one answer, nor do they always have a simple answer. The reason for
this, being the interconnectedness
of the issues in our lives and the absolute nature of these issues, as they spread themselves across broad areas of our life to create
similar effects wherever we happen to look. Therefore, when we seek to explain one issue by only looking within
the narrow boundaries of the expression of that issue, the answer may not be forthcoming. For a rather more satisfactory
resolution, we must look to every area concurrently. Only then can we begin to gain a sense of the issue and how it affects our life
in the variety of contexts that it occurs.
Wayfarer International, Copyright © John & Melody Anderson, 1995 - 2002. All rights reserved.