We Are Not Who (or What) We Think We Are


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Spiritual Teachings, Spirituality, Thought | Posted on 01-25-2017

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[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]

Not What We Think We AreI had a bit of an insight about our “true selves” last week which I’ll try to put into words here. I hope it makes some semblance of sense.

Here’s what I’ve seen…

As human beings, we are so wedded to our personality. Our individuality. Our identity. That part of us that seems to make us who we are. Our uniqueness. Our specialness.

Yet these aspects of us are also often our downfall.

When we believe our individual traits, ideas and thoughts are who we are, we are forced to defend them at any cost.

And boy do we!

Speaking for myself, I’ve always been highly attached to and identified with my personality. I have generally liked who I was (or thought I was) at any given time. And I’ve always loved expressing myself in my own unique manner.

I believed my personality was THE REAL ME.

I thought it was WHO I AM.

And I have to say, I was highly invested in that belief! In fact, I spent a lot of my life thinking about it. I’ve gone so far as to high five myself many times for being so awesomely authentic! Heck, I’ve even written articles about authenticity.

However, right now in this moment…

I’m not sure I even have an authentic self.

I’m starting to see that authenticity or what I thought of as “my true self” isn’t actually a thing. And it certainly doesn’t have a personality.

Which has me wondering…

What if all our thoughts about our true self were really just a trick of the mind?

A veil that covers what we really are. (Notice I did not say “who.”)  A smokescreen to make us think we’re something that we’re not.

What if all our ideas about ourselves are actually…

Just another ego identity trick!

As soon as we think of and picture our true authentic self as “a thing”–we’ve got it wrong.

There is no “form” to what we really are.

And while I knew that my identity was malleable and changeable (because mine had changed so much), I was still missing a key piece of the puzzle.

My identity (regardless of what it looks like in the moment) is not me!

In other words, all the time I’ve spent thinking about my individualism, uniqueness and personality was for nothing. Because it doesn’t actually exist.

There is no real me.

There’s no such thing as my true self.

Nor do I have an authentic being that can act authentically.

Which is kind of scary for someone like me who’s been so identified with how “special” I am.

But it’s also kind of freeing.

Being less (or not) wedded to my personality seems like it should make it easier to do things that don’t fit with my identity. It also seems like it should be easier to pay less attention to the voice in my head who I always thought was me. (Just because it sounds like me doesn’t mean it is!)

There is, of course, a paradox to all of this.

I do believe we are here on Earth to give life to (and play) our own unique and interesting character. We’re here to create and express ourselves in a way that only our messed up mixture of madness can do. No one else in the Universe has the same expression of humanness that we do. Nobody else can create in the same exact manner that we do.

We all have own special uniqueness that sets us apart from others. The good, the bad and the ugly.

And that’s all great!

But it’s also good to know that everyone (and everything) in the Universe is exactly the same.

In every moment, when we take away that part of us we’ve always thought was the real us (but isn’t)–what’s left is simply the pure flow of infinite potentiality. Nothing more, nothing less. And that, my friends, is what we really are.


P.S. This may or may not make any sense to you. It’s only just starting to make sense to me. And honestly, I’m mostly seeing it from an intellectual level at the moment. But if it makes sense to you, or if you hear a ring of truth in it, please let me know as I’d love to chat with you. Perhaps we can help each other bring it more into focus!

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Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

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Jill, based on what you’ve written here, I think you would enjoy reading two Michael Singer books (if you haven’t already). Read The Untethered Soul first, then The Surrender Experiment. Thanks for who you are and are becoming.
Rosalie Hamilton

Hi Rosalie, yes, I have read The Surrender Experiment and loved it. And people keep telling me to read Untethered Soul so that’s definitely on my list! I recently watched a great talk by Michael Singer on Youtube as well. Soooo good!

I really like this piece of writing. It allows more space to who I am is true and not true. This opens up to so much more and more choice and possibility. I’ve studied somatic coaching and ontological coaching which goes in the direction of re-shaping the shape of the self. I’ll add this piece to my experience to open up to more possibility to what and who I am.

On some level, I absolutely get what you’re saying. I can relate because sometimes, my son has a very hard time communicating with his peers. He constantly thinks he’s being judged, or that he needs to act a certain way, “because people will think I’m weird.”, or “nobody will like my haircut”, “they’ll all think I’m smart…”, or stupid, or whatever he is feeling about himself at any given time. I try to bring him back to the pinnacle thought that we are all the same. Any judgement you put on someone else comes right back to you… Do you think someone else is too smart? too weird? not cool enough? It’s all a matter of our internal thinking that makes us feel self-conscious. And when we can get past that, and realize we’re all the same, it’s not so painful to live amongst our peers.

Yeah and it’s totally exaggerated with kids and their peer groups. The more kids can understand that what others think about them says more about the others than about them, the better! Thanks for commenting, Brenda!

Thank you

This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while now too – it’s a huge thing that is one thing to get on an intellectual level, but quite another to actually experience.

I read a fascinating little book by Gary Crowley, “From Here to Here: Turning Toward Enlightenment” which explains the personality from a neurological, factual point of view which has really helped me. I actually just finished reading it for a second time because after I read the current book selection in Michael Neill’s Book Club, “Confusion No More”, I was having trouble with the concept of “God’s Will”. Gary Crowley’s book just explains so many things in a logical way, including how our brains work. Because it’s short, it’s concise and easy to read – I think you’d enjoy it!

Cool, thanks for the book recommendation, Lorraine. Will check it out! 🙂