July 2, 2016 by Cláudia
I said it before, but having a positive impact on the world is, first of all, to understand what changes need to be done in myself. And to know what should be changed, I need to understand exactly what it means to be myself. Identity is one of the most baffling things that come with growing up: when we are children it makes perfect sense who we are. We know our name, what we look like and our age, what school we go to etc.. We know we like blueberries but not raspberries and everything is clear and makes sense.
Progressively, things start to get less clear and more confusing. Suddenly conflicting feelings appear, we get uncertain about what we like, what exactly we believe in since a lot of options present themselves to us. Identity turns into a hazy concept: beliefs change, we understand that the way we grew up deeply affects our actions and reactions and sometimes we get reactions we don’t even understand where they came from. We start to be forced to make choices, or to avoid all confrontation, and every path we chose starts to define who we are – or rather who we perceive as ourselves.
Past situations, what surrounds us, the people we meet, the communities we are inserted in, all of these have a great influence and impact. Because so many exterior factors are so determinant in our choices and behaviour, it’s hard to comprehend what exactly means to be me. Am I what my experiences made me or am I a completely independent entity that would exist regardless of the external influences? I am hard-working, but would I be hard-working if I grew up in an environment that promoted laziness?
I constantly try to put myself in others shoes and try to imagine who I would be if I had the struggles others had. Of course the external factors can’t be seen as restrictively determinant, there are always resilient people, and a multitude of reactions and outcomes that evolve from the same backgrounds. But it doesn’t make sense to me that ideas and behaviours that don’t entirely belong to me are part of my core identity. My experiences of course are part of me, I accept them and they helped me discover who I am based on how I reacted to them. But they are me in a kind of peripheral identity, they could have easily not happened to me, it was arbitrary that they did and weren’t from my choice. That’s why what I’m searching for is my true identity: what would remain of me if my situation was completely different.
Many times we react to situations without being mindful about how that reaction might not be genuine but conditioned. Denial is such a strong force, as well as preconceived ideas, imposed mindsets. This is why I want to talk about something I can only describe as my true self – sometimes I have a feeling that I can only really describe as light and fullness and that feeling tells me that I am acting according to my true self. This true self expresses himself by giving us sensations of calmness or discomfort and it is who you are deeply, or rather, who you would be if it weren’t for all the layers that weight you down.
Sometimes we feel like we have a monster or a shadow inside us telling us what to do and then we don’t feel good about ourselves. For example, so many times I act wrongly with other people and lash out, because all my relationships are based on this hugely strong fear that people don’t really like me deep down. I really don’t want to act like that, I feel like I am possessed and like I have no control over myself. That is a consequence of some of my past experiences and who could know how my incorrect reactions might be affecting other people and their own mindset etc etc. It’s my belief that those times we are not acting our truest self, but on one of the layers that has built upon us. I want to be a source of light, someone who loves herself and others, someone whose actions match her beliefs. I am not there yet, but I am going through a deep process of identity discovery and identity discovery means taking of all these layers and trying to figure out who I am beneath all that.
Letting some things go, specially some traumas, has proven itself way harder than it might seem: I have attached my identity to them so deeply that I feel unprotected without them. Undefined. Traumas are probably the hardest ones to let go because they are so close to our true self that it may feel like our traumas are part of who we are. Shaping our minds, they affect all our behaviour and it can be really difficult to see past that. It’s hard to trace where they begin and end because all this takes place in our unconscious.
Why is it so important to free ourselves from all these layers? Because only if we let go of other forces that take part in our decision-making we can consider ourselves truly free and independent. If we have these unconscious subtle forces that dictate our behaviour we will impact negatively our image of ourselves and even others’ mindsets because they’re not authentic.
Letting go of the layers we dress doesn’t mean denial, on the contrary, it means to deeply acknowledge them and then realizing we don’t need them anymore, they are not serving us in a positive way, and we are ready to discover who we are without them.
It’s not a matter of rejecting everything we’ve created so far, but of reevaluating everything and trying to understand which beliefs are truly in line with our true self. It’s a matter of understanding which beliefs we should be letting go because they are a result of a past experience, of an imposed value by education or simply because society defined it as the norm. It’s a matter of undressing and realizing that some of these layers are conflicting to where we know deepest in ourselves we want to go.
Only someone who has really accepted and embraced all the mental barriers he has built over time, will truly act like a human being.
It’s a beautiful journey that goes inward and will lead me to the real me without any mental barriers. That’s the me who’s going to positively impact the world. I have it in me to be exactly who I want to be, and so does everyone.