When we are born, we come into this world as a clean canvas. A spiritual being in a human bodysuit. We have no concepts of life, no models of reality, no judgements or pre-conceived ideas. As an innocent child we lived in each present moment – crying one second and playing the next, without being emotionally-attached to what caused us to cry in the first place.
We are like a sponge that absorbs everything around us and over time we begin to limit ourselves in order to find our place within the world around us. We start to take on the beliefs, values, and behaviours of our parents; as we get older, our friends and teachers influence us with their perceptions and guidelines on how to live life. We are indoctrinated by societal norms dependent on how and where we were raised, and are shaped by media, politics and religious views.
As we try to figure out our identity, our unique array of life experiences moulds us into who we think we are and we cultivate our personality traits accordingly. We start to associate things that have been said or seen to who we are ‘meant to be’ and what we are ‘meant to do’. We start to lose touch with our innate wisdom and take on board the expectations and knowledge of others. We start to reside more in our head – dwelling on things, judging ourselves, questioning our abilities, worrying about life – becoming trapped by the constant mental chatter, which separates us from the wholeness we once felt.
We develop the constructs of time and carry with us the pain of our conditioned past and fear of the unknown future. We often become crippled by self-doubt, criticism, and stress, resulting in us spending our lives looking for meaning, purpose and the elusive happiness that we associate with “I’ll be happy when I… but”.
“I’ll be happy when I have more money… but people with money are corrupt and self-serving.”
“I’ll be happy when I get that dream job… but I’m not confident enough to apply for the role.”
“I’ll be happy when I find the right partner… but my parents got divorced when I was little and I don’t want to get my heart broken.”
“I’ll be happy when I leave this toxic relationship… but I don’t feel worthy of love and this is better than being on my own.”
Before we know it, we have wished our life away without realising that our self-imposed limitations are merely thought-created concepts.
Michael Foucault said: “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.”
However, this statement is flawed.
It is inevitable that life will change us into someone we weren’t in the beginning. Our brain is like a super-computer and we internalise, process, and react to everything in our external environment. We are bombarded with sensory data every second and filter this based on previous events in order to consciously perceive what is familiar from moment to moment. As we accumulate more information and experiences, we hardwire neurological pathways to guide us through life, often unaware that our limited viewpoint might not be serving our best interests. And so, life happens and we end up becoming someone else, but to do so without awareness of what we truly are often creates disconnection.
The schooling system is a rigid structure that teaches children about who they should become and what they need to do in order to be successful, based on erroneous assumptions about what life is actually about. The subjects that fall under modern education target the critical faculties; however, they do not nurture skills around emotional intelligence.
Throughout the developmental years, children face constant comparison to others regarding grades and milestones, which creates a lot of pressure for each generation and often deepens the wound of “not being enough” that most of us are inflicted with for one reason or another.
We often forget to teach our children about what they really are, the true essence that goes beyond their name, culture, intellect and career path. We focus more on how to make a living rather than on how to truly live. What’s lacking is teaching children about the nature of thought, the link with their emotions, and the fact that behaviours are an expression of their thinking in action. Dysfunctional behaviour stems from insecure thoughts; poor grades stem from a busy mind; mental ill-health comes from a feeling of imperfection.
We do not adequately equip our youth with the ability to tap into their own intuition and think freely for themselves so that they can become emotionally-grounded individuals that have clarity on their unique path and purpose. Instead, we put people into boxes and give them labels that limit growth and self-awareness.
Without an understanding of what we are, we enter adulthood and keep striving for things outside of us in order to become something we are not. We strive for titles, accolades, and recognition… Why?! To complete us? Make our parents proud? Give us a sense of self-worth? Fit into society? Fill a void within us? Accumulate wealth and material gain to feel accepted or good enough? Alternatively, we fear life due to our deep-rooted insecurities and never reach our full potential.
As the years go by, we often look back and realise “something is missing” or “we’ve lost ourselves along the way”. We forget that our experience happened, and is happening, BECAUSE of us.
I used to suffer with anxiety and very poor self-esteem. I never felt good enough and was extremely insecure. I believed I was this way “because I was given up for adoption”. As a result, I attracted situations into my life that matched my frequency of inadequacy, which created a self-perpetuating internal dialogue of lack and longing. I carried that with me throughout University, into relationships, and into job roles. I was stuck in a cycle of inner-turmoil, self-loathing and emotional baggage. I was afraid of failure, I was scared of rejection, and I stayed in my comfort zone. Make no mistake, I became someone else, but I wasn’t living life in alignment with who I was truly meant to be, and that’s because I didn’t know what I am.
Uncovering what I am has been critical to the quality of my human experience, regardless of whatever life throws my way…
To understand that I create an internal representation about my external environment in every given moment reminds me that I CHOOSE how to think, feel and react to obstacles in life…
To know that my past no longer exists has allowed me to let go of suffering by no longer keeping negative stories alive in my mind…
To realise that my thoughts create my experience, and my experience creates my reality means I am a player in this game of life, not a victim of my hardships…
To know there is an intelligence of life that signals when I’ve gone off track, a quiet whisper that reminds me to quieten my mind and look within for the answer, gives me resilience and inoculates me from looking outward for validation…
The Truth is that my external environment, life situations, obstacles, and victories – none of that is what I am. What I am is a fragment of consciousness experiencing itself through the power of thought. I am more than a name. I am more than my behaviours. I am not the labels given to me.
What we are is a Oneness, separated merely by our individual thoughts. The thoughts that you are this and I am that. Yet, despite being different genders, ages, nationalities and cultures, the true essence of what we are is the same.
Life is about levelling up our consciousness; however, that does not mean becoming someone else that you were not in the beginning but rather coming back to who you’ve always been, before the contamination of thought. Before the layers of self-criticism, judgement, limiting beliefs, values, and insecurities. Strip all that away and you will uncover the innate well-being that we all have within ourselves. To live life through that feeling of ‘wholeness’ means we know WHAT we are, and as a result we can manifest whatever we desire – not from a place of need, greed or lack but from a place of love and purity.
Our identity is the role we play in this production of life.
When we shed all the layers of who we think we are, what is left?
In Sanskrit SO HUM translates to “I am that”, meaning I am creation, and when we deeply know that to be true, how we show up and serve humanity is based on inspired action and unconditional love rather than insecurity and separation.
I am what I am; and what I am is consciousness itself.