I didn’t write on sunday because I was having a bad case of “oh-poor-me-osis” and I had promised no whingeing in this blog. So I am in a much better frame of mind to write now. I am doing a lot better, though I have been housebound for the past two weeks because of the left knee. I am still hobbling and limping, but there is no longer that hot ice pick in my knee. There is still pain but so much less than last week. I have been feeling sorry for myself because I have had to put my life on hold for a bit so I can rest the knee and give it time to heal. I was mostly upset because I had things planned I wanted to do and I felt I was missing out on all of it.
It has also been a time to think and re-evaluate who I am, or who I think I am. With my hypnotherapist friend’s assessment of what’s going on, I really have to think about who I am inside. I know I am a wife, daughter, sister, Promotional Marketing Advisor, friend, volunteer, member of organizations, etc. But is that who I am inside or just how people see me from the outside? I know I have recently realized that if RA is not my identity, then what is my identity? Yes, I now know I am a healthy, powerful, inspiring woman courageously living my vision now, as well as a Kickass Warrior – but is that enough? How does that translate into identity? I can see I have more questions than answers at this point. That may not be a bad things at all, more a place to start than end.
So my first questions is – What is identity? The World English Dictionary has 9 different definitions, depending on circumstance. The first two seem more what I am looking for:
1. the state of having unique identifying characteristics held by no other person or thing
2. the individual characteristics by which a person or thing is recognized
So far, not much help. Then I found an article by John Graden, a once well-known martial arts master, about his story and what he learned about his identity. He had been a chubby kid until age 20, when he began martial arts. It became his identity and he only hung out with other martial artists. He launched the National Association of Professional Martial Artists and “began to realize that, while martial arts helped me to reinvent myself identity, the job was only half-done. I had to reintegrate my martial arts with my inner self so that martial arts became a facet of who I was, not the entire definition.
When good or bad things happen to you it’s important that you not let them define you. Being a champion black belt on TV was my identity for years. If you are allowing your success to be your identity, then your hiding your real self. Think about film stars who choose not to live in Hollywood. They view their stardom as an extension of who they are instead of the definition of their identity. Sandra Bullock lives in Texas and it’s pretty clear when you see her in interviews that she views acting as a high paying job she enjoys but also that there is much more to her than just acting. In contrast, Jack Nicholson is iconic in his identity as film star. Being a movie star is his identity.”
Now we are getting closer to identity, though still haven’t had the light bulb go on yet. He talked about “What has happened to you good and bad is not you. What matters is how you deal with it.” That by defining yourself by any one particular thing or event puts you in a prison that confines your self-image and potential for growth. It reminds me of one of the exercises in Ike Pono, there is an event, you have an emotion about it, then a memory – it is when you make a decision about that event that it becomes part of your definition. If it was negative, you may decide you are stupid, then you begin to collect evidence you are right. Each following event is just more proof you are stupid. It isn’t the case at all, but you decided you are stupid and you need constant evidence to prove you are right – you are stupid. It is more important to stop at the memory stage, to not make any decision, just see it as an event, there is an emotion and let it go. Otherwise, you will define yourself as stupid.
Now it isn’t all that easy to stop before the decision stage – it seems to be an automatic response from as long as we can remember. I can think of many instances from my growing up where I made a decision about myself from an event. One in particular, I decided that exuberance and enthusiasm were not acceptable, so I was not acceptable. I have finally understood that it was not about me at all, it was about the other person who didn’t know how to deal with enthusiasm and exuberance and said whatever it took to feel comfortable again. I see now that it was not good or bad, it was an event that I personalized as further proof I wasn’t acceptable. Yikes! I had no idea all of that was happening until just now! Maybe that is why I have spent my whole life being “the good girl”, following the rules so I would be acceptable. I realize I want everyone to like me even if it meant going against what I felt was true to me.
I can see this question is going to take time and a lot more questions before I figure it out. It is also possible I can simply create my own identity instead of thinking I have to fit a particular mold. That is definitely going to take some thought and certainly more questions. It means looking at what is true for me rather than choosing from from the molds available.
If you have ideas or suggestions, I am open to hearing about them. If my journey to identity can help someone else, then I have fulfilled one of my purposes – to be of use to others.