What do we do when we know it is time to relax? That answer may depend on our personality, likes and dislikes, financial circumstances, as well as our physical abilities. Gender, race, culture, society, and spiritual beliefs also may play a part on our ability to relax. In addition, there are many who have emotional challenges like anxiety, guilt, depression, etc. that will have an effect on the way they relax. I found while giving myself permission to let my shoulders down, put my feet up, take some deep breaths, it is not only beneficial to my health, it does wonders for my soul! The key word here to emphasize is “Permission”. Who else can give me permission to relax at this time in my life? For some the idea of relaxing is a foreign concept. How we decide to relax is another area impacted by the way we think and who we believe we are. Embracing the reality of who I am, while learning to enjoy my life each day, I understand I must work as well as take time to have fun. Being creative, I may desire to experiment with watercolors or oil paints and create an abstract picture. Or perhaps I will desire to be silent and relax while listening to beautiful instrumental music and meditating. During times of relaxation we can embrace our unique and authentic self. Understanding it is true that one of our basic needs is to have fun, I am learning how to relax in a new way. I am letting go of temptations to be driven to accomplish, perform, or conquer the invisible to-do list. I also will say no to thoughts that challenge my decision to take care of myself. I realize as I take time to enjoy life, relax and have fun, I am refreshed and prepared for the times I am on duty. Knowing I will have different desires and talents than others helps me understand what I find fun and relaxing may be terrifying to someone else. Others may think that which I find fun or exciting to be completely boring. That is why we are not to compare ourselves among ourselves. Isn’t it exciting to know that it is OK that we are all different? It is because we are all so unique, with individual thoughts and desires, we are able to create this extremely interesting and beautiful world.
It is refreshing to spend time teaching students from a variety of ages. As a Professor at the University the students ages may be wide spread yet they are all adults. Today I had the privilege of working with first graders. As I fill a variety of occupations, I find it most enjoyable to be with little children that have so many gifts to share. They are genuine, authentic, and absolutely individual. It is funny to hear the different responses when asked simple questions. They have not learned the art of putting on their masks, or acting a certain way. One may be picking his nose, while the other starts chasing the runaway ball that somehow escaped from the ball bag. I have found that when I enter the classroom in a relaxed manner and determined to enjoy the day it allows the children to teach me as I am instructing them as well. We are all free to enter in to a time of exploration and adventure. We must become as little children to enter the Kingdom, true to our own identity and free to be our genuine authentic self.
Being committed to being authentic may be challenging especially for those who have not seen or know what that even looks like. Often people are so focused on being one way at work to keep the boss happy, another way to keep their mother happy, and another way to keep their significant other happy. My question is, “Who are they, or what are they like when they are alone”? Are they the same or different? Did they lose their original copy, their authentic self? This is another part of the identity series. We are very complex creations and have many aspects of our lives that will be reflected differently depending on the light and the atmosphere that we are standing in. Whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in, or who we are with, it is important to be genuine. To protect our true identity by being committed and authentic is a life long quest and one of the best ways to keep our joy.
In times of physical or emotional exhaustion, we may be too tired to put on any masks. What do I mean by that? Take time to pause and reflect. Are there certain people in your life that you trust enough to actually be vulnerable and real? Can you actually let your hair down, literally? There will be times when irritations and frustrations arise while patience and energy levels take a nose dive. Relationships heading for disaster will begin to suffer. What happens when we get too tired to keep up the charades, masks get ripped off and our true identity shows up? Mr. or Mrs. Grouch officially appear on the scene. When we get exhausted, even the small task of pretending can be too difficult to maintain. It is understandable. There are times we all need to relax without feeling like we have to impress, serve, take care of, or be on duty for anything or anybody else.
The question I ask today relates to the true identity vs. the facade we may portray to others. For example, there are those in the helping profession and in the care givers position that may be suffering what we call burn out. They get too tired, especially when they are on duty 24/7 and do not have relief coming to take care of their loved one. I have told clients in the past that it is important to get support and communicate with others, even if it is only On-line, to help prevent burnout. This can keep their spirits up so they don’t become discouraged. When we get too tired it is difficult to make good judgments. Compounding other problems with the adrenal fatigue and other stress related challenges, it is easy to see how we lose sight of who we really are. The question is, “When you are too tired can you continue to be authentic and true to your own identity, even if it looks messy and others may not understand”? There is much more to be discussed on this topic of identity. What are your thoughts? Will the real you stand up?
Have you thought about the things in your life – past and present- that are you? When talking about identity I realize that things can reflect who we are, or what we like. Here is one example. While I am out and about shopping, I may see something that reminds me of someone I know. I may even think, “Wow, she would really like that”. Perhaps I will even purchase it as a gift to surprise her. At times I see a book and think of a friend who would like to read it; after all she read ‘War and Peace’ three times! Even when clothes shopping, I may see a particular article of clothing, a certain color or design, that brings up thoughts like ‘he’ would look great in that.
I find it interesting how many things we can see that cause us to think about other people. Things we think they would like or dislike because of our perceived identity of who they are. Yet those things are only a partial reflection of what we are allowed to see about their preferences. We can only get a glimpse of an individuals momentary pleasure in our sensory world.
What about yours? What things do others see externally that say something about you? Things like articles of clothing, your type of work, academic pursuits, social gatherings, peers, music, entertainment, sports or no sports. These all speak volumes about you. The question is, are they a true reflection of the real you? Or, do you embrace these because they are those of one you desire to be like or hang out with? Thoughts to ponder as we continue to touch on true identity. I look forward to your comments.
Do you ever wonder who ‘they’ are? More importantly, do you wonder who they say ‘you’ are? The topic of identity is one that can cover many areas. If someone defines their identity by their occupation or actions, they may go through many struggles when that occupation changes or they are no longer able to perform, or accomplish what they did in the past.
If I were to define what I do in my professional life, others may confuse that with who I am and think that is my identity. Perhaps they would think it strange if I said I am a musician. What picture would come to mind with that type of definition? I am an artist. Would they visualize a paint brush and canvas, drawing pencils and paper, and other art supplies scattered about as I wildly express my creative side? I am published author. Would the question arise, what kind of book did I write? Perhaps they heard I like to hang out at the local cafe and quietly sit in the corner writing on my laptop. I am a teacher and Adjunct Professor. Does that bring up a whole different picture, with new questions about what I teach. I teach a variety of subjects as well as Psychology. Oh, not only do I teach psychology, I am a mental health professional! The questions continue. Am I licensed? A list of examples could go on and on; there are so many things that we all can do. It is important to remember whatever our actions are does not explain the reality of who we are. To be reminded that we are human beings not human doings is important. What we accomplish does not determine our identity.
We all have different aspects of our unique and individual lives that continually paints a picture showing what we look like. As we gather more information the picture continues to develop and becomes more clear. Here is another example. To tell you I am a mother of five daughters, have five grandson’s with another on the way, and have two great grandsons, reveals I am an older woman who is blessed to have a family. I acknowledge that with so many different dynamics in my life they have an influence on how I view my own identity. If I were to ask my family members about my identity I am sure they would have a different perspective of who I am rather than the stranger passing by on the street. This principle applies to you all.
Even with all that information, which only scratches the surface, if someone were to ask, who is Brenda Ballantine, what would the answer be? Better yet, if someone were to ask who you are, what would the answer be? How does someone determine the correct response? How would they, whoever they are, know the answer? Data collection can show a person’s spending habits and insurance companies can show statistics about length of lives. Computers can track what people like to listen to or view on T.V. or the Internet. Given all that information, this only reveals our outward actions, likes and dislikes. So how do we know who we are, and what is our identity? Obviously, this subject is one that deserves much more attention and deep thought.
It has been noted that the topic of identity is a deep subject that may cover many areas in our lives. As written in the previous post, we are initially identified by our parents as male or female and given the name they have chose to call us. As all children begin to develop, characteristics and personalities will emerge. Created as social creatures with a basic need to belong, our identities are influenced, shaped and molded by those around us. The internal and external environment will have an impact on the way we view ourselves, our identity, self-esteem, and confidence. With positive or negative input from others, as well as life’s experiences, there are many factors that have an influence on our perception of our identity.
I was asked,”What do I mean by the ‘true’ sense of identity “? I recognize this answer will require a separate post to allow for deeper discussion. For now, I will say that each individual is a very unique, distinct, and wonderfully made human being. Each given an authentic identity tied to their very existence that they alone can experience.
Many have learned by experience that it was painful to the individual’s heart if they allowed their true identity to be expressed. Rejection, judgment, anger, jealousy, even violence or threat of losing a job have been reactions experienced when attempting to be themselves. They began to understand that using their authentic voice could be very costly. This could be one of the reasons why people refer that someone is wearing a mask. If they allow their desires to be made known that stem from their inner being and true identity, and then they experience pain, they will learn not to express themselves in a way that would create a negative reaction. They may unconsciously or consciously retreat to a survival mode, doing or saying whatever it takes to make a living, or get along with others without the pain. Another example that I agree with from a comment made from the previous post that stated, “We can be surrounded with potentially harmful societal identities, innate, and socially implanted ideas”. These also have an impact on how we view ourselves and our identity.
Therefore, getting to the reality of who we are as individuals, finding out what is the meaning of true identity requires time. As we enter a soul searching journey with many twists and turns along the way, the question will be, “Are we ready and willing to go?”
While writing my first post I decided to begin talking about our identity. Have you ever thought about the reality we all are identified as soon as we are born. It is determined if we are male or female, what is our weight, height, length, race, and color. At our arrival the time came to officially announce our legal name. Last chance to decide what we shall call the baby.
When I arrived my parents decided my name would be Brenda Darlene. Of course my last name changed when I was married. For those who are adopted their name may also be changed. There are others who change their name later in life for many reasons. Nevertheless, it is our full name that sets us apart from all others.
We are all unique and have individual personalities, all of which help define who we are. Yet, the identity of each and every one of us that I am referring to is not addressing our physical appearance, age, or race.
I have found in my profession there are many who are fully aware of their name and age yet lost sight of their true sense of identity. When conducting Heart~Mind~ Soul Symposiums I begin the first night introducing the participants to themselves.
We have a tradition when we first meet someone to introduce our self by stating our name. We share a moment of transition, from meeting a total stranger that perhaps may eventually become a life long friend. Yet how many of us who know our name struggle with the reality of knowing or accepting our true identity? I will continue to write about this fascinating subject with the hope we all get new insights about our own identity.