I love reading and writing. I came to writing late in life and discovered a world where I feel like a fish in the water.
"Stubborn Identities Must be Shed and Personal Histories Drained of Their Power."
— Alberto Villoldo
How do we shed stubborn identities? How do we drain personal histories? Most importantly, why do we want to shed and drain? Because we want to free ourselves from unwanted self-defeating patterns to allow our true self to shine. This is where peace and contentment can be found.
We identify ourselves by many factors such as personal circumstances, inherited traits, and cultural and geographical locations. Where we live affects who we are, and most of us know that our inner lives are not enough to make us happy.
We shed stubborn identities by letting go of beliefs that we inherited but are no longer useful to us. The beliefs and principles we were taught, and that sometimes were indoctrinated in us, by our parents, community, and society at large may no longer be applicable to our present life. Some of these beliefs may hinder what we are trying to achieve be it on a personal or a community level. It is like swimming against the current. We work toward something that’s different from what we have known, but outdated beliefs either hold us back or take us in the opposite direction of where we want to be.
Letting go of antiquated opinions and dogmas does not mean a lack of respect of our parents’ and communities’ efforts in raising us. By being aware of the patterns we inherited or adopted that are hindering our efforts, we become empowered to decide whether to keep, transform, or outgrow self-defeating patterns.
Behavioral patterns that take us away from what we want, or that distract us from our goals are self-defeating. They drain our drive and take away the potent energy we need to create the life we dream of. Some examples of inherited self-defeating patterns are perfectionism, wanting to always be right, stalling, blaming others for everything, and the partisans of political parties who feel threatened if their dearly held political views are threatened with the slightest change.
Personal histories are our life stories, where we grew up, the size of our nuclear family, where each one of us falls in it, and unique challenges and life experiences that we had as children and adults.
How do we drain personal histories? By letting go of resentment and anger, and by transforming strong emotions.
Our mind is influenced by thoughts. When we allow painful memories to rule over us, our brain acts in response as if the wrongdoing is happening now. It reacts by secreting the hormones that were useful in highly stressful situations, but in a situation that no longer warrants such a response.
We need all our energies to go about our daily lives. Holding on to old hate and resentments takes a lot of energy. Anyone who was wronged and wants to move forward knows very well how much energy is required to holding on to past hurts.
It is curious that the only permanent thing in the world is change itself, yet human brain is wired to protect the body, to protect us from change. The job of the brain is to protect the body. The brain perceives the psychological self as an extension of the body and uses the same defense mechanism to protect both. Any attack on a strongly held belief is perceived by our brain as an attack on the body because the self is being asked to accept a change. This holds mainly for political views and religious beliefs that we strongly feel we must protect.
How do we counter that? We need to understand the difference between our opinions and our identities. We must recognize that who we are and what we believe are two separate pieces and they evolve with time.
What is an opinion? It is a belief or a judgment. It is when we assume that certain facts or ideas are probably true or likely to be proven true.
What is a personal identity? It is our perception of ourselves that evolves over time. It could be an aspect over which we have no control such as skin color, or the choices we make in life like how we spend our time and what we believe in.
"Fate is a story that’s been written for you by somebody else... Destiny is a story that you write".
— Alberto Villoldo
Who Am I?
If you do not know who you truly are, you risk making up new identities for yourself and moving away from your true self. Anguish and distress come from ignoring your true identity. Until you realize your true self, you believe to be only the label that has been given to you such as a mother, a father, an employee, a voter, etc.
You write your destiny with the decisions you make, the direction toward which you steer your life, but mainly with starting on the path of knowing yourself. The path of knowing yourself allows you to be mindful of the intention behind your choices and decisions. Some of us go about life not being conscious of why we made such a decision, and are surprised that the distance is growing between where we truly want to be in life and where we currently are.
Human technologies are challenging the way we understand personal identities. Improvement of humans is the technological change of the human body to heighten physical or mental capabilities.
Dependence on human enhancement technologies etches at our self-directed and free will to bring change to our lives. It chips away at our ability to develop and change according to what we see fit. These technologies rely on advances in genetic engineering, bio-engineering, cybernetics, and nanotechnology to develop techniques that improve human functions beyond a normal range.
If we assume that identity is a group of characteristics that make each one of us a unique individual, especially in the way we understand ourselves, then human enhancement can be expected to affect one’s personal identity because it involves the modification of human minds and bodies to provide humans with extraordinary abilities. These new abilities change the way we look and behave, and how we experience the world. They tend to work on a short-term basis that leaves the enhanced person at a disadvantage once the effects of the enhancements can no longer be reproduced.
There are practices in yoga that focus on attaining spiritual powers, but these are gained through personal efforts to reach higher states of consciousness. In this approach, human free will is valued not overpowered.
The answer to the question of why do we need to shed stubborn identities and drain personal histories, is because we want to free ourselves from unwanted self-defeating patterns to allow our true self to shine. This is where peace and contentment can be found.-
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.