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Fearing the loss of identity

26th Dec 20166m44s

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  • How would I feel if I lost everything tomorrow? If I lost my job? If I lost my house? If I didn't have any money? And I've never been in that situation in my life. Thankfully, cause I never had to really go through that, but what I thought about what it must be like, I realized very quickly that I would be absolutely distraught. And not necessarily because I think I'd starve to death without money but because I realized that my identity of who I was as a person was built up on the basis of that I have all of these necessary trappings of life. That I have a job, that I had money, that people respected me for what I did, that I was successful in what I did and all of these things underpinned the sense of stability I had in my mind about who I was as a person. So, to lose those things would just be devastating to me. I also knew that if it did actually happen, I would probably get used to it but what i couldn't say in my mind when I was answering this question was how soon I'd be able to pick myself back up if I did enter depression or something like that. And then a part of me also realized that in a way, going through such a thing would make you so much stronger if you're able to get through it. Because you'd have suffered such a loss of identity once and doing so, that anything threatening your identity in the future would perhaps not impact you as much. So, in a way that I thought to myself, it will be good if I can release my identity from these things that I have in my life right now. But with that I have to go through this obviously. Would it be possible to do that? Would it be possible to know that no matter what happens in my life, no matter how much I lost, I would always have a sense of who I was and I wouldn't feel insecure about this, that I wouldn't feel inferior to other people, I wouldn't feel that other people are judging me on this basis. And the truth is I still haven't figured out how I can do that, how I can have an identity without having my job, my money, social respect and admiration as a basis. It's something I'm still working on, but it really, when I think about this I realize that almost all of us have similar issues. Almost all of us have an identity that is build upon the things we have externally in our lives, right? And under pinning all of this is really a fear, because if you think about it, what's so devastating about losing these things, is the fear that you become nothing at the end of it. Who would I be without all these things in my life? Who would I be without the things that I've worked so hard for? Who would I be if I lost these things? I wouldn't be the success that I think I am, perhaps. Would I be somebody that the people close to me would still want to love? So, it's fear that underpins that anxiety when we think about that. That that situation of being homeless, being jobless, being moneyless is the fear of losing people, losing things, losing our self-respect. Is the fear that we might be letting ourselves down, the fear that we're not reaching our life's potential. Whatever it is. It's a fear that drives it and that's why we don't wanna be in that situation. I mean it's logical for no-one to want to be in that situation. Who wants to be poor? Who wants to be going hungry? Who wants to be going without shelter? Who wants to be ostracized by society, as so often homeless people are today, right? Who wants to be in that situation, really? And so, in a way because we fear that situation, we do everything we can to make sure we don't end up in that situation. Which most people would say is the logical thing to do. Of course, you should take care of business, take care of your life. Otherwise you will end up in such situation. But does such a situation really define you as a person? What if that happens to you? And then through just a sequence of events somehow, you end up somewhere even better then you were before you became homeless, right? What if it's a lesson? What if it teaches you things that you didn't know before that then enable you to become something even more fantastic? Would you then look back at the situation and said, "I'm so unhappy", "I'm so unhappy that I went through that", "I regret going through that?" No, you'd say, "Going through that, made me who I am today." so, this is sort of the positive mentality point of bad situations. How can I look at it positively and let it help me grow? Which I think is a way to process a thing and there's nothing wrong with that, but what I'm trying to talk about is something even more fundamental. Which is yes, you can put a positive spin on it and yes, you can help it drive you forward but it's even better I think if you can be aware about how your identity is tied into your externalities. So, you got not a situation where suddenly you've lost everything that you find dear and of course, you tell yourself, "I'm gonna be positive about this", "I'm gonna have to go with a positive mind" but does it have to affect your identity even in that moment? Do you have to say to yourself, "Okay, I'm not the awesome person I thought I was, because now I no longer have x, y, z?" You're still that awesome person, right? Or are you? You can still be a great person, because that's about who you are, rather that what you have. So, what in a way what I'm talking about is reframing your identity away from things you have and the people that are in your life to who you are as a person and the standard that you bring to the table. And the positive mentality that you can use to get yourself out of the situation is part of that standard of who you are. So, that's the thing that you can focus on and I've realized that's the thing that I can focus on. If I live my life to a particular standard in terms of my behavior, in terms of my personality, in terms of my attitude than I can transcend the fear, somewhat I can transcend the fear of losing the things that I have, because I know I can trust myself to always prevail.