When we peel back the layers, we can find many identities lurking in the midst, can't we. Identities that have either been given to ourselves, with the best intentions. Identities that we have given ourselves, again with the best intentions.
Where do they come from, these mistaken identities. From our childhood - don't call me baby, that no longer fits with who I am. From school - nicknames that we went by. From jobs - the roles that we have in our lives. Identities can come from any context in our lives. Working out whether they are who we are and if they are useful for us is what's important.
There are two common areas of mistaken identity; health and emotions.
People identify with symptoms, ailments, conditions or illnesses, "I'm diabetic." "You're bulimic. "They're smokers." "I'm sick". The diagnosis gets promoted into who they are. So everything else about who they are becomes overshadowed, or upstaged. Notice what happens when this gets altered to a symptom etc "I have diabetes." "You have bulimia" "You smoke" "You feel sick." We have opened up resources within ourselves to be able to deal with, change or alter our experience.
Along with this our emotions can take over our identity, rather than feeling our emotions - we become them. "I'm happy." "I'm sad." "I'm disappointed." "I'm scared." "I'm angry." Emotions are really important. But to elevate them, to over-promote them...we can all think of a time when someone was promoted beyond their capabilities and how that worked out, can't we?They created a richness and depth of feeling to our experiences. They shape our world. But our emotions are not the world in it's entirety, as they are not our identity. The hormones, sensations, feelings and reactions that lead to our definition of the emotions that we are feeling is an incredible resource available to us. They can let us know of changes around us and within us. They can also help us to make changes around us and within us. Our emotions can guide us; can draw our attention and can help us attend to the changes that are necessary or desired.
One of the many important parts that a parent has is to help the child make connections. To let the child know that what certain things are, to name objects (ball, chair, table), verbs (eat, sleep, catch), adjectives (bouncy, kind, tall) usually through repetition, lots of repetition. So a parent is observing their child, and noticing the signs of tiredness says, "You're tired!" after many times of rejecting this concept - No I'm NOT and having it reinforced the child learns. This can also be true for the well meaning parent who instructs "You're naughty!" Learning to separate who they are and what they are doing is such a valuable skill.
Take this forward, they can become susceptible to projective identification or introjected personification. "He's naughty" can grow and evolve. Becoming part of who he is. This can then lead to limitations later on, on how they see themselves, their world, opportunities and choices. Understanding this process we can learn to detach and separate behaviours and identities.
In many of her wonderful meditations, Satir would invite us to go to that place deep within yourself where you keep that treasure that is called by your name and as you approach lovingly, gently, excitedly, notice your resources, your ability to see, hear, touch, taste, smell, feel, think, move and choose.
Considering roles and rules are one of the items covered in Empowering Women workshop, 14th Oct. For empowering women, unlocking true potential. Contact me for details.