We often spend so much of our life energy working towards some kind of outcome for ourselves. We strive and pursue and invest in the creation of who we want to be in the world, as well as how we want to be seen by the world. We build personas and lives for those personas. We dress the persona up just how we think he or she should be seen. We decorate our lives with those people, places, and things that define us as who we have chosen to be. Yet what happens when unexpected changes enter the picture or when elements in our design shift or fade away? What happens when we realize that parts of who we are do not align or resonate with the life we are living? This is when a person could find themselves in the midst of an identity crisis.
Who Am I?
What defines our identity? How do we acquire an equation that calculates an answer for who we are?
The way I see it, from birth and even before birth, we are being programmed with concepts, expectations, influences, and belief systems. Humanity is a community-based species. We are programmed to live amongst others, create families, and connect with community. Ideas and beliefs can grow very strong and even come to life, so to speak, when shared by groups of people. It is these beliefs that have been passed down generation after generation, as well as more newly formed beliefs that are collectively shared, that imprint our psyches and contribute to how we choose to live our lives and how we define our identity. We tend to define who we are through the influence and imprinting of the collective belief, or as some say – the collective dream or collective hallucination.
What happens then if you wake one day to realize that you don’t fully agree with some of the ways you have been choosing to identify with the life you are living or how others see you? What happens if you find yourself living life yet not feeling connected to it, or that it no longer makes sense? For some people, they may feel like they are “going crazy.” Others could possibly slide into depression, while others could try to keep living life as usual, yet secretly feel like they are living a lie or that they are “faking things.”
There is a force within the collective belief system, it has been called the tribal mind – it is what subconsciously influences us to follow the crowd, and keep doing things like the majority are doing, to be part of the team, the tribe, the big family.
Could this be a spiritual awakening?
When a person starts to feel out of place in their life, or they start to question if they really believe in the structure they had been basing their identity on, it can cause anxiety and even panic. It can trigger all kinds of feelings and responses as one awakens to the realization that they can no longer honestly claim that they are all in, a full believer, a happy member of the collective dream. This is when some people may start to unravel. They may feel like nothing makes sense, or they are losing themselves. This is a true identity crisis, and this is a very real part of the self-realization or spiritual awakening process.
Although it can be overwhelming, de-stabilizing, frightening, and lonely to find oneself having an identity crisis, it is also a potentially very magical moment in one’s life. At this moment one has an opportunity to review their life, to ask what really matters and what they authentically believe in. This is an opportunity to let go of the parts of your life that do not honestly express who you are, as well as an opportunity to redesign and restructure your life to reflect and express your true values, your purpose, your pleasures, and your talents. This process could lead you to changing careers, moving to a new home or a new country even, leaving a partner, discovering a new passion or dormant talent, traveling, changing your appearance, meeting new friends, trying new activities, having spiritual experiences or wanting to have spiritual experiences, or any other big changes.
The Tribal Mind
One of the challenges that can arise when someone is in this process is that the voices of society, family, and friends can urge us to stay as we were, to keep in the club, don’t change a thing. Often the changes one makes to start living authentically are done alone and can be subject to criticism, warnings, and doubts from people who know us, even people who truly love us. The tribal mind is a powerful force and it takes a brave and determined individual to break free and seek an alternate path. It takes great courage to step out and venture into unknown territory and to forge ahead creating a life that doesn’t match what one had been being told was the right thing to do, the right way to live. Yet it is only through that courage and righteous defiance that greatness is achieved. It is through the brave dedication to push through all the doubts, criticisms, societal peer pressure, and familial expectations that one can truly reach empowerment, and a life that expresses the real potential and unique brilliance of the person.
We are programmed to want to belong. We are programmed to be a part of the big tribe. I believe community and family and gathering together is a beautiful and important part of the human experience. I also believe that there is a phenomenon happening for many people where they are discovering that they no longer feel they fit in or believe in the life they had been living. There is a transformation sweeping the planet. More and more people are waking up and realizing they want to do something different or live their lives in a different way. I believe that we are reaching a point in time when we as a human family could benefit from questioning and restructuring our collective belief system.
It is time to bring in new ways of seeing and interacting with the world. Those individuals who find themselves in an identity crisis are perhaps way-showers and pioneers. Perhaps these individuals are getting a wake-up call so they may help guide and support others to assist in changing the world we live in and how we live in it.
If you are one of these people, if you are having an identity crisis, or starting to feel out of place in your life, I say – Great! Yes! Don’t despair. Don’t think you are crazy or feel that you need to suppress this process. Instead, start reviewing your life. Is there anything you need to or want to get out of your life, change, replace, or release? Are there things you want to start doing, learning, or wish to change? Do you have a dream that you are not pursuing or a talent you are not expressing? It is at this moment that you are being called to follow through. Now is the perfect moment to initiate transformation and begin living your life according to the truth within you.
To live the life that is truly you, to follow that voice that is guiding you through uncharted territories, it will require your courage, commitment, and confidence. You need to ignore any voices that tell you that you can’t do this, or that you will fail, or your ideas are stupid, or whatever the voice may say that is discouraging. No great leader, artist, athlete, teacher, or other influencer became who they are by playing small and following the crowd. Each of us has a unique talent, a gift, and a purpose. Each of us was created to shine and to bless this world. Only through getting off the beaten path and following the voice of authenticity will we awaken that greatness, that gift, and our purpose.