If I asked, what do you do? What would you say?
The words we use to label ourselves carry energy. These, arguably, “made up” labels can allow us to expand beyond our capacities, or they can keep us stuck in a box of our own making.
I laugh, looking back at some of the personas I wore. My first job out of college was as a Credit Analyst. For a 22-year-old, being an analyst sounded fancy and I prided myself in telling it to strangers.
What is about letters after our name or words under our email signature that hold our esteem?
Later at my company, a position opened for a Financial Analyst. I applied on the sole basis that I thought it would be cooler to tell people. I didn’t get the job. (Thank God)
A year later, I got promoted to Marketing Coordinator. I was so excited to have a new title under my name. When it happened, just like that, my persona changed. I felt like my life was going. places, and all those who received my emails knew it.
It’s sad, but I’m sure I’m not alone. Titles give us a sense of identity, which grounds us in the chaos of the world.
After I left my corporate job, I learned what it was like to have no identity. This was equally liberating and terrifying. If I’m no longer someone, who am I?
It was a Dark Night of the Soul — a feeling of lostness and isolation. I lay around staring at the ceiling and felt jealous when the mailperson came, because they had a purpose.
Many face a similar crisis in retirement. While scary, this is a sacred time. We would do ourselves a lot of good untethering ourselves from our identities more often.
Since then, I have taken on so many identities in my career, including: Inspirational Speaker, Meditation Teacher, Writer, Author, Meditation Guide, Yoga Teacher, Mindfulness Educator, Kids Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher, Life Coach, Spiritual Guide, Meditation Artist, Transformational Coach, Facilitator — I’m still figuring it out.
Some of these titles stroke my ego. Some feel distant, while others I feel embodied in. Nonetheless, depending on how they’re used, they can help or hinder.
They help because they allow us to feel what that energy is like. I called myself some of these things long before I had anything to show for it. Some call that faking it till you make it. Sure there’s some of that, but I see it as a tool for manifestation.
If I take on the identity of an Inspirational Speaker, how would I act? What courses would I take? Who would I call?
Before I published my book, I had to see myself as a writer. I had to wake up and step into this identity, or else I could never finish it.
It’s in this way, we can use new identities to grow into who we want to become.
The Limitation of Identity
Identities can also limit us. If all we are is a parent, it might be hard to break into another paradigm. If we think we’re uneducated, it will spill into our perspective about everything.
Identities can turn into limiting beliefs, “I’m too old, dumb, unqualified, poor.. I’m not creative, I could never be xyz, I’m just a zyx…etc” The longer this is etched in our minds, the harder it is to shift — but we can shift.
While identities can help or hurt, they aren’t capital T, Truth. We are not what we do. There are no words to describe the energy and magnitude of who we are.
Although we are beyond labels, we can connect with our essence and use it to bring an unnamable quality to our lives.
On Twitter (source forgotten), I read that we should do something they don’t have a name for. That is where our gifts lie. One way to explore them is to try on new identities.
Where is your identity keeping you small?
Don’t let your current identity limit you…You’re more than a mother, husband, wife, consultant, executive, teacher, etc. You made the box, you can break free.
While we can’t be everything (I have no chance of making it in the NFL), we can find our growth edge and step into it.
So what do you do?
Are you open to trying on something new?