Main Road to Misery, High Road to Hell: False Identification With The Ego
‘To be – or not to be – that is the question’ – Hamlet
Most people don’t. Most people cannot. Most people totally unconsciously identify themselves in terms of their social conditioning, beliefs and the expectations put on them by others? Meaning, you might reasonably define yourself as: I am a man, I am English, I am thin, I am a millionaire, I am unhappy, I am Jewish, I am an alcoholic, I am an engineer, I am a feminist, I am black, I am gay, and on and on and on and on… defining yourself by specific external reference points. These reference points are supremely compelling. They are also ‘valid’ in a sense of the word. There is often objective, scientific, empirical evidence to support them. There are others (maybe millions of you) who share the same sense of identity. You get to ‘belong’ to a group, a nation, a culture, a religion, a movement, a cause. You could be on a mission. You could have a ‘purpose’. You could achieve great things. You could be a contender.
But this is still not ‘the truth’ of who you really are. Identity is not the same as the true self. It’s not innate. Identity is an adopted self-concept. Learned. Conditioned. It symbolises the true self, but only exists as it’s shadow. It can flood you with emotions (that go down as soon as they go up) but it cannot give you the stillness and security of true joy. Thus, the sobering reality is that the more you are attached to your self-concept the less authentic happiness you are fooled into settling for – because true happiness cannot show up when we focus on a falsehood. Because I say so? No! Look around. Look at the News. Look in the mirror. Look at the scales. Look at the suicide statistics!
False Identification is the primary cause of all your pain and suffering, and all – as Shakespeare said in the ‘to be or not to be‘ speech – the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to’. I’d go even further and assert that ‘False Identification’ is now and always has been the root cause of all human suffering and conflict – globally. All the other ‘habits’ are mere symptoms of this overarching dilemma.
One way to begin to exit the dilemma, and enter deep, lasting happiness is to shift the importance of these False Identifications from ‘definition’ to ‘expression’. To detach yourself from them and acknowledge that ‘who you really are’ is far, far greater than the personality, religion, nationality or job you do. For example you could say, I am expressing myself for now as ‘black, gay, woman, Christian, feminist, fashion designer’, or whatever. This begs the question, ‘then who am I really?’ And, by asking this question from that place of authentic enquiry, you are now opening up a higher level of your consciousness to allow the truth to speak to you in whatever way is perfect for who you are, where you are, and what you need to deal with in your life.
These are not the easiest shifts to make and questions to ask. If you are at a ‘life fulcrum’ and would like some assistance, then do, please, get in touch.
If you’re interested in how Shakespeare has, under the noses of the orthodoxy, sneaked in the ‘forbidden’ keys to deep, lasting happiness, and spiritual fulfilment – read this astonishing book: Shakespeare’s Revelation.