400 Days of Surrender — Day 7: Shedding your identity
New to this series? You can find Day 1 here.
As I was on my daily park walk listening to a recording on how to build a group coaching program, I was picturing my coaching practice expanding beyond just serving people one-on-one. I was feeling into what that would mean, how that would make me feel and who that would make me become.
And then I caught myself creating an identity or reinforcing the one that I currently occupy, one as a coach, teacher, helper, healer whatever you want to call helping and empowering others.
In the past, I’ve ocupied identities of being good at school, quick witted, curious, white male, successful, nerdy, cool, well travelled, high flying investment banker, entrepreneur that made it against all odds in Brazil, professional failure, unclear where to go next, non committal, womaniser, “monk” as a friend lovingly calls me in my seclusion, outlier, thinker, etc. etc. These are different labels of my perceived identity over the course of my life (and of course, there are a lot more).
They are a product of our ego and we get really attached to who we think we are. But they are an illusion. They are a concept of the mind and while it made sense from an evolutionary perspective (in groups/tribes it’s important to stand for something so people know what to expect as well as to put you into a social pecking order — just like in the animal kingdom) they don’t serve us or rather they don’t serve you any longer.
Instead they constrain you. Because if you are someone, it means you have to comply with that identity to uphold it meaning you have to stick to the rules of that identity, the rules that you think make and keep you that person, those can be: I am wealthy, I am successful, I am beautiful and well dressed, I am reliable, I am loved by everyone, I am important, I am funny, or whatever your unconscious rules are.
But while this identity of yours makes you feel to be someone, it stands in the way of you being free to just be and not needing to be or do something specific. This identity you created is holding you back from living life fully because you are worried you are not living up to it. It constrains you in what actions you can take, what you can say, where you need to be, how you need to be dressed, etc. etc. It gives you artificial comfort in “being someone” and it comes at a huge price for your quality of life.
A friend of mine recently found out that his parents are not his real parents, at age 50 and with a very clear understanding of who he is (successful entrepreneur). From one moment to the next his whole world collapsed. Everything he thought that was true no longer was. Not only his parents but his whole identity collapsed. He was in agony, his whole world came down. And then he was free. It suddenly struck him (probably because of all the work he had done before) that he did not need to be anyone, he could just be. And that was the most wonderful freeing visceral realisation. And it turned what most people think is probably one of the most awful news into a blessing, the blessing to loose his identity and realising he does not have to take on a new one. He can just be without being someone specific.
And so as I’m on my journey of surrender a big part of surrender to me is not needing to be anyone specific but just being and doing what I love to do which is helping people without giving it a label or making it a thing of ego. Just shine my light brightly and whoever wants some of it can come a little closer. Let’s all shine our lights more brightly and let ourselves be whatever we are rather than needing to fulfil a specific role or identity. And your life will never be the same again. ✨
Continue to Day 8: Stuck in between.