The Power of Personal Identity

Photo by: Darius Bashar

What we do is not who we are.

One of the biggest mistakes we make in life is defining who we are by what we have or what we do. Unfortunately, this is quite common in our culture. Building our identity on what we do or what we possess is a weak foundation; the slightest change in circumstances, and our whole world comes crashing down. Living life this way is recipe for stress, anxiety, worry, and the absence of true joy. It’s a life that continuously seeks the acceptance and approval of others, which is completely out of our control.

What you do professionally should have meaning to you, but it should not define you. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your labor and having nice things, but they should not define you.

It is far more rewarding and beneficial to establish your identity around a set of values and inner qualities that nurture peace of mind, well-being, and fulfillment. This is completely independent of what we do or what we have and is not subject to the shifting tides of external circumstances.

The truth of who we are is far greater than our jobs or the items we possess. When you begin to see and define yourself as the unique expression of the creative life force that you are, life takes on a whole new meaning. You, I, and each of us are all unique expressions of the source of life by whatever name you call it. That is our identity. Sadly, that is something too many have lost connection with.

When we look back near the end of our days, what job we had or what items we accumulated is not what we are going to reflect on. Study after study shows that the regrets most people have near the end of life include spending more time with friends, family, and loved ones; doing work that was more meaningful and fulfilling; pursuing their dreams; making a difference in the lives of others – to name a few. All of which stems from establishing your true personal identity.

What a waste to spend one’s life trying to impress and gain the approval of others instead of defining your own identity and being the unique expression of life you are.

There is only one you in the entire world. We all draw life from the same source, each of us is a unique expression of that one source. That is our identity.

The dreams that we have are the gifts, talents, and dispositions we have inside ourselves in which to express our unique selves to the world. If we could not do it, we could not dream it. You can only persistently dream of that which you are capable of doing. However, we can choose not to pursue those dreams, get distracted, and waste our lives trying to please and seek the approval of others.

Everything we need to pursue our dreams is here and available to us. We just need to believe that and have the courage, determination, and confidence to pursue our dreams and to make them happen. This all starts with recognizing our true identity and allowing that knowledge to be the driving force of our actions. This is what the phrase “Know Thyself” means.

Author Muata Ashby in his book Egyptian Yoga says it this way: “One must understand that ultimately, one is the ruler of one’s own self. That self is identical with all existence, and is supremely full and therefore, has no need for outside approval, validation or fulfillment. Our ignorance of this fact leads us to make our happiness dependent on factors outside of ourselves.”

You are not what you do. You are not what you have. You are an expression of the divine. An expression of the source of all life, here to live out the expression by sharing your unique gifts and talents with the rest of the world. Don’t squander that and look back later with regret. Make the choice to be who you truly are. The rest of us will all benefit as a result, and so will you. [