Of the nearly eight billion people on our planet, the majority of us base our entire reality and identity on one thing: Self-image.
So What’s So Important About This Identity?
Why are we so attached to our own identity — and is it actually something real?
It seems like our attachment to self creates an awful lot of suffering. But why?
Is there a different context from which to experience your life that would give you more peace, fulfillment, power and freedom?
There absolutely is!
Learning why we attach ourselves to this “self” and how to see past this “self” can help unlock a path to greater freedom and power and a much deeper connection to being alive.
Let’s get started!
How Is Self Created?
Our self is made up of our:
Wow, that’s a mouthful!
And just like the concept that beliefs are not facts, neither are any of these other things facts. They’re all our own subjective interpretation of how things are.
Each one of us has a mental picture and image of our self “out there.” We have a felt sense about ourselves “out there.”
If we stopped identifying with these things, nothing real would be lost. That is because they’re all just our own subjective point of view!
If we look for the self in our body, mind, thoughts, feelings, and sensations, we don’t find any concrete self.
And yet we spend 100% of our time defending, maintaining, justifying, protecting and defining this self.
We’re extremely vested in seeing ourselves in a certain way, and making sure others see us that way as well.
It’s absolutely exhausting!
Stop wasting time and energy on things that make you miserable.
In Be More, Do Less, learn about how sticking to the same habitual self is the definition of crazy.
Why Would You Give Up Your So-Called Self?
At this point, you might be asking, “Why would I want to stop identifying with my beliefs, thoughts, feelings, etc? They’re my whole world!”
It’s who I am.
And that’s exactly the whole point.
Get Off the Emotional Rollercoaster
When your world and mind are filled with all these subjective points of view, it’s like living in an emotional roller coaster, and the stillness necessary to connect with your true nature and deeper self doesn’t exist.
As spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle says in his book Stillness Speaks, “Stillness is the language God speaks. Everything else is just a bad translation.”
You’re always putting out fires, reacting to your circumstances, and being triggered.
Your ability to consciously and deliberately create the life you want, by connecting to a deeper place, is very limited. That is because you’re always consumed by thinking about the past or future, and making sure your thoughts, feelings and actions fit into the picture you have of yourself.
Stop Asking, “Who am I”
For years you were told, “Ask yourself, who am I.” So you came up with an answer and called it yourself!
“This is who I am,” you said proudly.
You got very good at creating selves. Many many selves.
So, of course you’re afraid to give up the identities of this false self because you feel you won’t know who you are if you do.
Since you are frightened, you cling to a very limited context in which to experience your best life.
Consequently, most of the time your best life doesn’t show up, and you continue creating the same life over and over again!
You stay stuck and limited, and left to defend and justify your subjective identities.
Thus filling your life with a lot of effort.
The Difference Between What and Who Am I
The better question is not who am I, but what am I?
Again, who am I alludes to the fact that you’re some supposed self.
In reality, you are some “self,” because practically speaking, it takes a self to make it’s way through life.
However, when you let go of believing that is truly what you are, it gives you freedom and power, and access to a much deeper connection to your true nature.
A Deeper Connection to Being Alive: Your True Nature
When you stop being so totally consumed with defending, maintaining, justifying,
protecting and defining this self, new ways of being will open up to you.
Your true nature is beyond mind, ego, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and personality.
It’s not that they’re bad, but they provide a very limited way of living. All of that doesn’t disappear, but their grip on you and your attachment to them significantly loosens.
Lessening that attachment creates a space in which you can connect to and be aware of the awareness that is already and always existing within you. And always available.
It is a space in which you will feel content, fulfilled and at peace with things.
However, this awareness or true nature is not accessible through mind!
It’s accessible through stillness.
Meditating to Discover Your True Nature
Most people will tell you to meditate in an effort to create the stillness to connect with this true nature.
However, formal meditation scares some people and turns off others.
Make the effort to find time to be still and quiet.
Try finding a place where you won’t be disturbed for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
For some people, they find the best time to do this is in the early morning hours at the start of their day.
This helps to quiet the mind for the rest of the day, so it's not lost in and taken over by continuous thoughts.
It allows the individual to become aware of that awareness in which everything is okay exactly as it is.
Even if you start with 10 minutes of just sitting quietly, without there having to be any intention, purpose, or outcome for you to get attached to, that’s a great start.
A popular, easy and effective way to begin is simply to watch your breath.
Make note of the breath coming in and going out. Just notice your thoughts, but don’t get involved in them.
Let your thoughts just pass by, and don’t berate yourself when you find yourself getting lost in a thought. It will unfortunately definitely happen.
There’s no reason to analyze or judge anything.
Just come back to your breath.
Remember, as Eckhart Tolle said, “Stillness is the language God speaks. Everything else is just a bad translation.”
Finding Freedom and Happiness
Happiness is found in freeing ourselves from the bonds of self-image, and in the article How to Choose to be Happy, I delve deeper into the traps of outer attachments, including seven steps to find true happiness.
To learn more, download my Free Ebook “3 Steps to Feel Great Right Now Regardless of Your Circumstances.” Get started mastering your mind and transforming your thinking.