We all have ways of identifying ourselves.
Go to any networking meeting and it is usually a title. Something roles based.
I'm a stay-at-home-mom...I'm a computer consultant...I'm a freelance writer.
There are other ways we identify ourselves. Ways much more subtle. The ones we don't say.
I'm the smart one....I'm the funny one...I'm the pretty one.
That's on the positive side. On the negative side:
I'm the fat one...I'm the non-technical one...I'm the clumsy one.
The thing is, these are all false identities. The goal isn't to flip from "the bad ones" to "the good ones." The idea is to stop using these labels to define ourselves altogether.
Each of us are multifaceted, beautiful, divinely-loved human beings, but we tend to label and pour ourselves into these very limited containers, then begin to believe this is us. We see it all the time when the container gets broken and the label goes away.
The stay-at-home-mom who becomes an empty nester.
The VP who gets laid off.
The beauty queen who ages.
I want to propose that we are the ones who label ourselves. Yes the world plays a role in this, but we are the ones who own the containers and believe in them. We are the ones who give them power. And we are the ones who can walk away.
So how do we stop identifying with the labels?
There is a beauty in being able to humbly drop the need to define ourselves and simply engage the world as we are—without requiring the name tag to decide where we fit. The problem with the "false identities" is that positive or negative they limit our engagement because we feel the need to defend them.
Dropping false identities does not come easily. I think the most effective way to lose them is by spending time in solitude with the One who made us. Another path is engaging in new experiences with new people. We are safe in a "false identity" ecosystem, but we are also stuck. By breaking out and trying new things, we challenge the containers. We uncover parts of ourselves we forgot were there.
Dropping false identities isn't about becoming nothing. It is about revealing something. We each have a soul that while contained in a body and often cast in a role isn't defined by that. It is easy to focus on the body, our history or our roles because we "see" them. It takes courage to engage the parts of ourselves that are not as easily perceived.