The habitual reactions to our thoughts, feelings, environment, and social structure create a comfortable world for our identity to exist inside of. This is why change is scary. Our identity doesn't want to surrender to the infinite unraveling of the unknown that lives outside of itself so it gets really good at learning to thrive in the limited experiences of our routine. This isn't bad and is actually quite healthy if we are aware that the identity isn't fixed or objectively real but a useful story we tell ourselves to help us make positive decisions that align with the true nature of love.
Identity only becomes unhealthy if we don't allow ourselves to let go and expand beyond the things we identify with. Healthy identification is accepting that the stories we tell ourselves are not reality but a set of assumptions, opinions, and beliefs we find useful for navigating the world in a way that feels genuine to us. Nature/reality/God/life doesn't care about what we think is correct. It is an ever changing process that is constantly creating novelty for us to be a part of. If we are tightly squeezing onto our assumptions and expectations we don't allow ourselves to experience life and will inevitably create a world of disappointment, anxiety, and confusion inside of our heads. The tighter we squeeze, the harder we fall.
Relevant music rant. Periphery is one of my favorite bands for a million reasons but I'll tell you a few to save time. They are not afraid to explore the sound of angelic beauty or demonic destruction. Their polyrhythmic grooviness gives me a massive sonic erection. Spencer's lyrics and vocals trigger happiness and fear inside of me.
In the song Habitual Line-Stepper there is a part that reminds me of an identity collapsing. The lyrics are simple but the way the band pulls this part off gives me chills. I don't think the lyrics are addressing this concept but it doesn't matter, art is whatever you perceive it to be.
Periphery 3: Habitual Line-Stepper
"Your tower's falling down into a black hole. You are the barricaded man."
Damn. Talk about the sonic description of barricading ourselves inside of identity walls and hiding up in our tower of illusion only to collapse into a black hole of madness. MY GOD it gives me goosebumps every time, probably because this is what happened to me.
Warning: We all have an identity. Even the monks, hippies, energy jedis, gooey goblin fairy queens, and eternal priests of nothingness. It is dangerous to pretend you don't have an identity because now your identity is the person who doesn't have an identity and when you inevitably start thinking and acting based on an identity you will trip out and spiral into a rabbit hole of identity guilt causing you to now identify as a shitty, selfish, pathetic person for having an identity at all. That shame filled identity will now be the foundation of your thoughts and behavior and will pull you into a deeper rabbit hole of soul destroying depression... Maybe. I went through a phase like this. I realized my identity was the thing causing my suffering so I tried my hardest to completely dissociate myself from it. Didn't work.
Our identity is useful because it helps us take action from our value system without having to check over our value system every moment of our lives. It's the default mode of our character and part of this brain function keeps us from having to relearn everything all the time. If we had to relearn everything all the time we would be very inefficient so it's actually helpful to have preset assumptions about reality so we can move through it more effectively. Our default mode network helps us from feeling like we are in a constant mushroom trip. "Woaaah bro what are door knobs even for maaaan? How does the cup hold the water maaaan? Why do we even cook things maaan? The clouds are so crazy I can't even walk maaan! *Insert gut busting laugh attack*. Dude what does the steering wheel do? My phone is just blinky lights maaan!"
Apparently psilocybin mushrooms quiet down the default mode network, causing you to percieve reality with less of your preconceived ideas. This can be beautiful and can also be terrifying. More on that later. For now, identity is here to stay.
Don't get your crystals in a bunch, you can have an identity and still be a present force of divine love. I guess the trick is shaping your identity based on internal values that help us engage with unconditional love rather than external values that are based on expectations, assumptions, and attachments that life doesn't give a shit about trying to fulfil. If your identity is built on a foundation of needs that can't always be met you are in for a slippery journey of disappointment.
Internal values are states of being that you can use your free will to turn on at any moment and in any situation. I'll list the 11 that I am currently trying to practice. I associate an animal with each value to help me visualize and meditate on each feeling.
1. Integrity (Wolf)
- Doing the right thing. My instincts and intuition know the right thing to do so I try my best to do it, even if it's difficult or scary.
2. Playfulness (Coyote)
- Being spontaneous, silly, curious, adventurous, risky, profound, absurd and having fun just because.
3. Compassion (Rattlesnake)
- Being kind, accepting, supportive, and empathetic to others and myself. Serving and supporting others in the best way I can without compromising my own self love.
4. Honesty & Surrender (Jellyfish)
- Being completely transparent with myself and others. Filters are used when necessary but often the uncomfortable conversation is the one we need to have.
- Letting go and allowing things to happen as they happen without needing life to respond in a certain way.
5. Commitment & Faith (Spider)
- Taking consistent actions toward what matters to me and believing that the bigger picture will work itself out.
6. Gratitude (Vulture)
- Appreciating whatever life is giving me now. Looking for the gifts in people, places, struggles, and triumphs.
7. Humble Service (Bee)
- Remembering how small I am and simply trying to use my natural abilities to help the greater good.
8. Connection (Bat)
- Listen carefully, speak truthfully, and feel bond between me and my environment.
9. Patience (Tortoise)
- Taking time to enjoy the process and my environment.
10. Simplistic Mystery (Goat)
- Allowing things to be simple and magical.
11. Nature (Monkey)
- Aligning with Nature by embodying my full nature.
These values are internal choices and can guide me through any moment, challenge, and relationship. I'm not expecting reality to happen a certain way but I'm setting guidelines for how I will engage with it. I fail many times throughout the day at honoring my values but every day is a fresh start to forgive myself and try again. My scared little ego takes over a lot, convincing me to make self defeating decisions and it will forever. The best weapon against a shitty ego is accepting that it isn't shitty at all and loving it for what it is; a mechanism trying to keep our current identity safe and fixed.
"Thanks ego, love you buddy, you're doing a great job, but I want to expand beyond a fixed image inside my head so I'm going to do what my spirit needs, not what you want. See you tomorrow, best wishes xoxox"
I actually started talking to my ego like this and it made a big difference in not hating myself anymore. It's a horrible idea to see your ego as your evil enemy because then you'll have an evil enemy inside your head all the time. Sounds fun.... Look, ego is here to stay and we can learn to love it even though we don't listen to it. Like when friends, family, and other influences tell us we should take the safe, predictable path and actually believe they are helping us but are actually just distracting us from expanding into the unknown powers of OUR true nature colliding with the infinite possibilities of THE true nature.
Internal values help us build a free flowing identity based on decisions that help us engage with unconditional love. Your value system shapes how you perceive your own self worth and the worth of others. If your values are not aligned with unconditional love then you will be easily fooled by yourself and others. You will also be very judgemental of yourself and others. Money, social power, things, toys, sex, status, talents, tricks, fame, appearances, getting high, possessions, and validation are dangerous values because they may cause us to compromise love for the sake of grabbing onto these attachments. It's socially dangerous because it may cause us to seek connection with someone simply for the sake of achieving these external values.
Again, these things are not evil as long as we are aware of our intentions and honor our internal values above all else. I think they call it integrity. Making money isn't bad unless you are compromising your morals for the sake of making it. Networking with high status people isn't bad unless you start faking who you are in hopes of getting in. Wanting to connect with a sexy woman isn't bad unless you start telling lies in hopes of looking good and getting laid. Getting laid isn't bad unless you don't respect your partner with love and transparency. Buying fun toys isn't bad unless you need them in order to feel good. I sound like a broken record but I'll repeat, nothing is really good or bad, it's all about our relationship with it. There isn't a "bad" music note unless you are comparing it with how it relates to the other notes around it.
Our perception and action are in our control. The rest is out of our hands.
Continue reading the "Mental Breakdown" series.
All art on this page is by Skye Dreamur. Check out more of his creations!