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Thread: Identity

  1. #1
    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
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    Default Identity

    Where do you derive your sense of identity from?

    Is identity a history of events/experiences?

    Is it one's values?


    How do you feel when you do something out of character? How do you think that affects your sense of identity?





    I've recently realized my biggest fear is that of losing my identity. There's this beautiful saying out there, that some people will share with me, of how life is all about distilling your identity. That goes against my very idealistic nature though. Whenever I do something that is out of character for me I will feel a deep sense of guilt...like I'm losing my identity bit, by bit. These days I feel very hollow....I don't know who I am anymore. Which is frightening since my identity is the only thing that gives me a sense of control over the future. And I crave security. I often wonder if there is such a thing as a sustainable state of peace of mind. Being completely at peace with things.

    I wonder if peace can only be attained with no sense of identity, no sense of ego.

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    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    interesting... I don't really bother to sit and think about the concept of identity... I just tend to act and react to the things that surround me and to follow what interests me. My identity exists because I exist, it changes when I change... to me identity is something you get with your DNA sequence and fingerprints, it's not something that you can lose.

    I've never feared losing my identity... it's when you start thinking about it and fearing losing it that you're in trouble, because you start obsessing over the CONCEPT of identity instead of just living and having one
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

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    Senior Member Saslou's Avatar
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    What is identity? It's a collection of experiences, ideals, labels and conditions.

    Remove those and then look to one's identity and the question becomes something harder to comprehend.
    “I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower, you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see—and I don't.”
    ― Georgia O'Keeffe

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    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
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    Well identity is all about who you are as a person mostly independent of context...so I don't see how living is having one.

    Like you said it changes when you change. That kinda defeats the whole purpose of identity for me. I feel very empty and a lot of pain when I don't know what defines me irrespective of the context. Feel like a robot.


    Like everything is subjective, and if the circumstances were edgy enough I could do anything, in or out of character...

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    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    in my point of view, humans are social animals, and therefore to judge what and who they are context is needed... what's the point of evaluating how you are alone when most of the time when you ARE alone you're showering or asleep?

    you Fi people are WEIRD

    *whatever is perfectly content with the knowlege that she is indeed herself, no matter what*
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

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    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
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    I'm not talking about being alone. I don't mean SOCIAL context. By context I meant coherence. Like, in this context I would often do this.......but one day I did that....and it was out of character.


    It's not evaluating how I am alone, it's evaluating what is CONSISTENT about me.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moiety View Post
    I wonder if peace can only be attained with no sense of identity, no sense of ego.
    Well, that's what Zen Buddhism seems to promote.

    The self is a construct.
    Any sense of "reincarnation" is not the western form where an identity is retained, it is more like the matchflame of one life is "lighting off" the next rather than a literal transference of identity.
    Those who are aware of themselves are not totally alive -- they are at least to some degree detached from who they are, in order to observe themselves.

    Peace and full integration into oneself comes from being fully immersed rather than self-aware.

    However, since society asks that behavior is regulated, either control has to be exerted from without or it has to exerted from within and that only occurs by actually taking the awareness of the self and make it external to itself so that it can "look at the self" -- and thus it's still almost like external control being imposed.

    I think this is why we find people and animals that react instinctively and wholly within themselves, even when they cause harm, on some level might still receive respect -- because people are aware that in the end, they aren't doing things to cause harm but are just wholly and perfectly being themselves and are internally at balance/peace.

    I think also that the will is ambitious and desires things; and thus instead of being, we end up doing, looking outside ourselves for objects of satisfaction... which leads to more distance from the self as we become consumers of what is around us and thus to even a larger lack of self-identity because we are investing it in these other goals. ("My identity comes from achieving <this> and <this> and <this>.")


    Where do you derive your sense of identity from?
    Is identity a history of events/experiences?
    Is it one's values?
    Well, it depends on how we define identity.
    It is either what we are, or it is what we think of ourselves... our self-awareness.
    To even have the discussion, though, we're already being self-aware.

    So to go with that definition -- yes, I think we tend to equate specific self-history to identity. We are "this unique person" whose history includes "these unique events"... and we tend to think that loss of memory leads to loss of identity.

    Values refer to what drives us.
    So one could say that values also can uniquely identify us.

    How do you feel when you do something out of character? How do you think that affects your sense of identity?
    I have to reevaluate who I thought I was.
    Something was off -- either my self-perception was inaccurate, or I did something inconsistent with who I think I am and feel the need to change it.

    I've recently realized my biggest fear is that of losing my identity. There's this beautiful saying out there, that some people will share with me, of how life is all about distilling your identity. That goes against my very idealistic nature though. Whenever I do something that is out of character for me I will feel a deep sense of guilt...like I'm losing my identity bit, by bit. These days I feel very hollow....I don't know who I am anymore. Which is frightening since my identity is the only thing that gives me a sense of control over the future. And I crave security. I often wonder if there is such a thing as a sustainable state of peace of mind. Being completely at peace with things.
    Life is change.
    Change means you change.
    Since you can't stop changing without being dead, it's not like your sense of identity can be static.
    More and more of yourselves is being discovered every day you live; and the many challenges of life can lead to changes in behavior that you did not expect.

    You've also no doubt heard the discussion about how the human body sloughs off/replaces all or the majority of its cells every seven years.
    This is compared to a board that has been damaged countless times and repaired, until finally it is a boat with the same name but none of its parts were its original parts. Yet there is a continuity to the boat whereby it seemingly preserves its identity, even if it actually is not tangibly the same boat at all.

    You might not know who you were because you've become someone else.
    Or you might not have known yourself truly, before, and the self you're being exposed to is who you "really" are.

    Part of the peace is in knowing yourself, part of it comes in accepting the changes as necessary and natural.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moiety View Post
    I wonder if peace can only be attained with no sense of identity, no sense of ego.
    Well, that's what Zen Buddhism seems to promote.

    The self is a construct.
    Any sense of "reincarnation" is not the western form where an identity is retained, it is more like the matchflame of one life is "lighting off" the next rather than a literal transference of identity.
    Those who are aware of themselves are not totally alive -- they are at least to some degree detached from who they are, in order to observe themselves.

    Peace and full integration into oneself comes from being fully immersed rather than self-aware.

    However, since society asks that behavior is regulated, either control has to be exerted from without or it has to exerted from within and that only occurs by actually taking the awareness of the self and make it external to itself so that it can "look at the self" -- and thus it's still almost like external control being imposed.

    I think this is why we find people and animals that react instinctively and wholly within themselves, even when they cause harm, on some level might still receive respect -- because people are aware that in the end, they aren't doing things to cause harm but are just wholly and perfectly being themselves and are internally at balance/peace.

    I think also that the will is ambitious and desires things; and thus instead of being, we end up doing, looking outside ourselves for objects of satisfaction... which leads to more distance from the self as we become consumers of what is around us and thus to even a larger lack of self-identity because we are investing it in these other goals. ("My identity comes from achieving <this> and <this> and <this>.")


    Where do you derive your sense of identity from?
    Is identity a history of events/experiences?
    Is it one's values?
    Well, it depends on how we define identity.
    It is either what we are, or it is what we think of ourselves... our self-awareness.
    To even have the discussion, though, we're already being self-aware.

    So to go with that definition -- yes, I think we tend to equate specific self-history to identity. We are "this unique person" whose history includes "these unique events"... and we tend to think that loss of memory leads to loss of identity.

    Values refer to what drives us.
    So one could say that values also can uniquely identify us.

    How do you feel when you do something out of character? How do you think that affects your sense of identity?
    I have to reevaluate who I thought I was.
    Something was off -- either my self-perception was inaccurate, or I did something inconsistent with who I think I am and feel the need to change it.

    I've recently realized my biggest fear is that of losing my identity. There's this beautiful saying out there, that some people will share with me, of how life is all about distilling your identity. That goes against my very idealistic nature though. Whenever I do something that is out of character for me I will feel a deep sense of guilt...like I'm losing my identity bit, by bit. These days I feel very hollow....I don't know who I am anymore. Which is frightening since my identity is the only thing that gives me a sense of control over the future. And I crave security. I often wonder if there is such a thing as a sustainable state of peace of mind. Being completely at peace with things.
    Life is change.
    Change means you change.
    Since you can't stop changing without being dead, it's not like your sense of identity can be static.
    More and more of yourselves is being discovered every day you live; and the many challenges of life can lead to changes in behavior that you did not expect.

    You've also no doubt heard the discussion about how the human body sloughs off/replaces all or the majority of its cells every seven years.
    This is compared to a board that has been damaged countless times and repaired, until finally it is a boat with the same name but none of its parts were its original parts. Yet there is a continuity to the boat whereby it seemingly preserves its identity, even if it actually is not tangibly the same boat at all.

    You might not know who you were because you've become someone else.
    Or you might not have known yourself truly, before, and the self you're being exposed to is who you "really" are.

    Part of the peace is in knowing yourself, part of it comes in accepting the changes as necessary and natural.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  9. #9
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Hmm, when I was younger I figure I did obsess a bit about identity, it was heavily dependent upon my values and principles and ideologies and beliefs.

    It provided a sort of creative tension as I tried to reconcile all the various ideas that I discovered and read up on, some of them couldnt really be reconciled and I only really decided the whole process for what it was later in life when I looked back at diaries or journals or reflective essays which I wrote.

    As I got older my views changed, I realised that there could be value even in what on the face of it could appear conflicting ideas or ideologies and out of these seperate thesis' sometimes thesis and antithesis there would be new synthesis. Perhaps that changed my evaluation of my own identity, instead of thinking of myself as socialist, anarchist, roman catholic, I also realised that I, my self, was something more or at least seperate from each of those things. Equally I began to think of myself as something apart from my job, family, community, nationality etc.

    There's some of Jung's theories about individuation which correspond more or less to the train of development that I'm trying to describe. So I dont fear about losing my identity, its not something that can happen, all the ideas which I just described which to some people are all identity is, are or can be transitory things anyway.

    That's not to suggest that I dont value those things, I sure do, I dedicate a lot of time and thought to studying them and that's not the only sacrifice I've made or would make with respect to those ideas or creedos, they have consequences but my identity cant be reduced to that alone. Personally, I think that's a pretty adjusted and adaptive sense of self and identity. I've always found that people who reduce their identity and their self to ideology, sexuality or some other singular facet of their selves a little one dimensional and cookie.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Well, that's what Zen Buddhism seems to promote.

    The self is a construct.
    Any sense of "reincarnation" is not the western form where an identity is retained, it is more like the matchflame of one life is "lighting off" the next rather than a literal transference of identity.
    Those who are aware of themselves are not totally alive -- they are at least to some degree detached from who they are, in order to observe themselves.
    Yes, I've actually been reading a lot about buddhism lately. But buddhism also doesn't promote detachment from things in a colloquial sense....it's being detached from the attachment we have to things. With true detachment we could never love any of our fellow human.

    They say ENFPs are on a quest for identity. I wonder what that says about our chance to be enlightened then, when we are running towards what buddhism would ask us to stay away from lol

    Peace and full integration into oneself comes from being fully immersed rather than self-aware.

    However, since society asks that behavior is regulated, either control has to be exerted from without or it has to exerted from within and that only occurs by actually taking the awareness of the self and make it external to itself so that it can "look at the self" -- and thus it's still almost like external control being imposed.

    I think this is why we find people and animals that react instinctively and wholly within themselves, even when they cause harm, on some level might still receive respect -- because people are aware that in the end, they aren't doing things to cause harm but are just wholly and perfectly being themselves and are internally at balance/peace.
    What does that say about, say people with high libidos (or whatever) that live by instinct? Today I actually read a quote by Angelina Jolie (which I believe was in regards to her having cheated on someone before) :

    "I don't believe in guilt, I believe in living on impulse as long as you never intentionally hurt another person, and don't judge people in your life. I think you should live completely free."

    Buddhism actually doesn't believe in sexual misconduct, and I wonder where that fits with our true nature. We are animals after all. If we were to submit to animal instinct on that area or any other...we wouldn't be very mindful of the implications of our actions.

    I think also that the will is ambitious and desires things; and thus instead of being, we end up doing, looking outside ourselves for objects of satisfaction... which leads to more distance from the self as we become consumers of what is around us and thus to even a larger lack of self-identity because we are investing it in these other goals. ("My identity comes from achieving <this> and <this> and <this>.")
    I definitely believe that happiness comes from within. But at the same time, with no will, we can't discern courses of action. If I'm perfectly happy in the here and the now with who I am, where I am, and with I am doing....where does the motivation to pursue a career in anything, build a family etc...comes from?

    If you don't have a ego, how can you choose what to do?

    I have to reevaluate who I thought I was.
    Something was off -- either my self-perception was inaccurate, or I did something inconsistent with who I think I am and feel the need to change it.
    I'm very averse to the idea to change myself, when it comes to values. But my identity won't allow the introduction of a paradox or inconsistency. I always relied on my values, as the one thing that could be permanent in my reality (since it would be within my power to control them) in a world inherently impermanent like the buddhists would say. Again tied with a sense of security and peace that I crave for.


    Part of the peace is in knowing yourself, part of it comes in accepting the changes as necessary and natural.
    Necessary and natural are so relative though. That's why a father wouldn't want his kid to grow up in an unhealthy environment. Oh he would adapt naturally to it. That's why if you are born in a ghetto riddle with crime, you'll become a criminal. That does not mean it's good for you (nevermind others).




    Going back to buddhism again, I think it's impossible to derive true peace/happiness from it, and at the same time wanting things like sex, family, carreer etc....As ever....society corrupts the individual.

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