Part 1 of this series highlighted what defines us and what is our reference point for such a definition of ourselves…
we also discussed the difference between our authentic self and our false self… we discovered our false self is defined by the external things like our job, achievements, status, country, age, religion, ethnicity…. Our authentic self or true essence is the composite of all our skills, talents and wisdom, passion. It is all of the things that are uniquely ours and need expression, rather than what we believe we are supposed to be and do. It is within our core being….
Part 2 of this series will discuss the effects of identifying with our false self
What are they?
(1)Depression: when you define yourself by your job this is known as “work-role centrality.” It means that work is central to your sense of who you are. People with high “work role centrality” who lose their jobs suffer more. They are more likely to be depressed and anxious and more likely to feel that there is less purpose in their lives. Their identity and purpose seemed to disappear when they lost their job.
After the 2009 global recession lots of people lost their homes, business, jobs etc. a lot of people committed suicide, because they had no sense of identity or worth….
(2)Debt: trying to keep up with the Joneses and your status only puts you in debt… For a lot of people, what they buy and what they have is tangled up in their identity. You will do all you can to maintain it, even if it means living way above your means by overspending, borrowing and taking bribe to sustain this ostentatious lifestyle.
Like having massive weddings, lavish birthday parties, big cars, trying to live in an expensive location when you cannot even afford it. The need to keep up with the herd…
Unfortunately you end up in debt as a result become bankrupt, loose your business, job because you might be dismissed for taking bribe or stealing from your employer to sponsor your lifestyle … In a nutshell you can end up amassing a mountain of credit card debt or have a penniless and destitute existence in your golden years….
In the long run you are definitely not moving up to a different social class but the funny thing is that while you are busy trying to keep up with the Joneses you are actually doing the opposite….(making yourself poor and destitute).
(3) Co-dependency: When your relationship becomes your identity you put up with all sorts of bad behaviour in your relationship from domestic violence, infidelity. Verbal, sexual abuse and so on… the definition of co-dependency is caring too much for another person who has dysfunctional behaviour at the expense of one’s own self… Caring too much and enabling the other person keeps people in destructive relationships. Co-dependent people normally use their relationship as a source of identification they try to get validation from others and are willing to give themselves away to get it no matter the cost as opposed to those who can know their own self-worth and seek what they need within themselves.
It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with co-dependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. Co-dependents often take on a martyr’s role and become “benefactors” to an individual in need. A wife may cover for her abusive husband and so on.. people are scared to leave because they won’t be called Mrs so, so anymore… their identity is in their marriage/relationship… scared of being single… might not be looked on as a respectful person in the community.
(4) Masks: we all want to be loved and accepted by others so we wear different mask.. we are most times ashamed of our true self when our true self is a combination of all sorts of good and bad, feelings we love, feelings we don’t love, things we are proud of, things we are embarrassed of. So in order to fit and be accepted or be loved we must only present the good as a result we develop a false self which leads us to develop out of pretences, we do this by wearing different masks and portraying different personalities to fit the various roles we play in life… we wear different mask around our families, our co-workers, our church members our friends… we carefully choose the mask that will gain us approval… putting on mask is an attempt to control our fear of rejection.
Many of us feel loved or known for the false self we portray to others. We hide behind masks- and today there are so many masks to wear: Facebook, IM, Twitter, texting … the list goes on and on. There is a fear of exposing the real because often the real is messy. We are afraid that if people know the real us, they won’t like it – perhaps we are even afraid to show ourselves the real self! We also put unnecessary pressured on ourselves when we wear different masks to fit into all these roles… so we can be accepted… we feel trapped, imprisoned and our soul lives in anguish because it is not set free to be its true self
You identify yourself by your age, but you know at a certain age society put out barriers not to do certain things because you are too old or young… Like going back to school, dancing, having a baby, getting married just to mention a few…
You feel stifled, choked, and trapped not having to live your authentic self because society has pigeon holed, boxed and labelled you to act and behave a certain way… but because you so badly want to be accepted you rather wear a mask….. Just to be liked… always remember people that made a mark on this earth are people that dared to be true to themselves… They were hated at first even killed, but the funny thing is that they were finally accepted for who they are… example Fella kuti, Jesus, Buddha, Madonna just to mention a few.
(5)Limitations: when we rely on roles, job, country,religion ethnicity and so on to define us, we label ourselves.. These labels limit us and deprive the universe of our unique self and our full potential… We rob people from getting to know our authentic self…
“I am this” (a medical doctor), or “I am that” (a Mom), we have lost sight of the ability to dignify ourselves by the simple statement
Lets take it further with our emotions….
“I am depressed” – yes, you are – but, if that depression is not organic, and is driven by some situational circumstance like financial pressures, or grief, or just being generally overwhelmed, then is it depression? or is it a feeling of depression driven by something else – fear, loss, feeling, or actually being, out of control? No matter, you are still a powerful human being who possesses limitless potential who is being consumed by what you are choosing to see as an obstacle, rather than an opportunity. Agreed, sometimes the opportunity is not so obvious, but it is always there.
By letting go of our labels as self-definition, and recognizing those labels as a condition of existence within a larger perspective, then we are able to connect with an expanded awareness of ourselves. We are no longer prisoners of self-definition, and, by association victims of it, but we are the keepers of the keys to the universe and all the magic, mystery and potential it holds forth — the same magic, mystery and potential that lives inside each of us and, most importantly, lives inside of you.
(6)We become human doings instead of human beings: because we are so focused on having we become human doings…. We wake up in the morning, reach for our cup of coffee, rush around to get the kids ready for school, walk the dog if we have one…, get ourselves ready for work, face the Lagos traffic, and so on. Our awakening hours pass in a flash, and we repeat the routine day after day. As the day goes on, we’re so busy running from one activity to the next that we barely have time to stop and take a breath. More often than not, our focus is on BECOMING or HAVING, not on BEING… our to do list is always a priority… because it is the one that protects our external things which defines our false self….
How many of us take time out of our busy days to actually BE? we often let life pass in a blur. Your worth is not related to being too busy, too stressed and having a maximized schedule. Your worth, your value comes from within and is something that is there no matter how much you “produce” or get done in a day. When we belief that having and doing is all there is we end up seeking to meet our need of achievement by acquiring more, having more or busying ourselves more…. We begin to identify ourselves with what we have and what we do… I am what I have and I am what I do….. becomes our belief and keeps driving us to want more and more… creating a vicious cycle and leading to enormous stress because we are never satisfied…
Breaking the cycle is knowing that our very core is our beingness… connecting with the knowledge of your soul… the I am what I am.
(7) Steals your happiness: when life is not lived authentically it steals your joy and you never find peace, either you are living according to someone else’s expectations or the external things have become your reference point of defining yourself.. it causes constant worry, frustration, because once you loose those things you assume you are nothing… how can you find peace and joy when you define yourself by outside conditions it is like building a castle on sand, eventually it’s going to sink into the ground. All the worrying thoughts that invade your mind… like “will he or she change or leave me?”,” will I loose my job”, “will my business ever survive a recession or a setback?”, “what if my car is stolen?” and so on…
Food for thought
In our society external things are held so dear to the heart that we end up selling our soul just to maintain the status quo….
Have you suffered from any of these effects?
watch out for the finale of this series… On ways to know your true self