Philosophy Tuesday

August 18, 2015

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

We continue our trip down the identity rabbit hole…

Our identity is an “Identity of Identities”, picked up or inherited from a myriad of places and sources and moments and decisions, mostly unintentionally. They come with a lot of views and realities. And they are hard to see without practice, for they are “me”.

And there’s a very big thing about identities that’s important to know about:

Neurologically speaking, our brain does not know the difference between an attack against our bodily existence, and an attack against our identity.

Said another way, a threat to our identity is registered by our danger sensors as an attack, even if that is not really happening.*

And with our identity of identities, there are many things that can seem to threaten an aspect we’ve built into our identity, and hence “us”.

And when we feel threatened, things get hairy, don’t they? We fight back, lash out, defend, defend, defend, and aim to kill off that which is trying to kill us; or we run, avoid, and hide. Neither is conducive to living freely, living with intention, or being able to think straight. It’s a roughshod time, to which there can be much collateral damage – to others, and to ourselves. To what we hold dear. We’ll act in odd ways. We may feel righteous and riled up about it, but we’re on autopilot. We’ve lost, perhaps ironically, our agency. In those moments it gets in the way of getting what we truly want, of interacting with people the way we want to, of living a life we’d like to live.

Now, this may come as a surprise at this point, but at the same time to all of the above identities are not bad things. They are not flaws. On the contrary, they are great tools, great shortcuts to interacting and being in the world. Identities can be wonderful.

It is at its heart a matter of awareness. To be aware of, and present to, our identities. Which, in having read this, you may now be more so aware. Aware of some very powerful stuff. Aware, for one, that there is a distinction between you and your identity (the two are not the same). For two, that you acquired multiple identities that make your identity. For three, that identities come with a lot of preconceptions/rules/truths/views that are often hidden.

And fourthly, and most importantly, and putting those all together, all of the above coalesces to indicate that if you are not your identity and that these identities aren’t inherently part of you, you can choose new identities at any time and actually choose whom you want to be and how you want to express yourself in the world. You can examine your identities to see what lurks within, see the hidden biases and baggage and choose to leave them behind and create a new identity to slot in. You can develop mindfulness to interrupt the automatic rise and avoid seeing threats to you that show up only through the lenses of your identities.

You need not be beholden to anything.

It takes practice, it takes development, it takes work and time and it takes us taking ourselves on. Learning to be mindful. And it’s work well spent.

This is, after all, you. And me. And who I am in the world. Some care, and thought, and choosing, makes sense.


* – To which it is not hard to see why; my identity is ME, and I relate to my identity as ME, it is my existence in the world. I have no separation between my identity and me, just as I have no separation between my body and me. If my body is harmed, I am harmed, ergo, if my identity is harmed, I too must be harmed.



  1. […] Worship is one word out of many that we can use to describe those things that we make a part of ourselves and that we elevate to the highest ideals.  They are the areas where our attention and efforts are consistently focused towards.  Sometimes they’re quite silly.  Other times, not.  And once we have elevated it/them, once we worship them, once we make them part of our identity, make it part of who we are, we will righteously fight for it. […]

  2. […] Whenever information has made it past both our various pre-filters and our ability to rationalize just about anything, a threat to our views on the world can emerge.  The cognitive dissonance makes us feel uncomfortable.  And, especially, if that view is tied to our identity, our identity is going to mount a full scale defense. […]

  3. […] Here’s the thing.  Being present, being mindful, letting go of barriers and upsets and baggage and world views and all those hidden biases and blockades and doing the work to get through it all and taking on new and uncertain things… all of those, it’s tough.  It takes something.  And my identity is going to pull its special slippery mojo to keep me from doing it, it’s going to try and convince me how things really are, and it will do whatever it needs to in order to protect itself. […]

  4. […] we’ve heard from others.   We have brains that automatically filter things.  We have our identities fighting tooth and nail to survive.  We have the sense that we are the centre of the universe.  We have that inner monologue that […]

  5. […] Afraid for its survival, our identity goes on overdrive. […]

  6. […] walk around in life, each of us a conglomeration of identities, some chosen, mostly not, and often forgetting that we were are the sole and final authors of our identities, there are a lot of good pointers and reminders on how to best put our identities […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: