We all have identities and beliefs about ourselves and others. These identities and beliefs permeate our lives on a level that most of us are unaware. We use the identities and beliefs in such way, though, to address two needs. We want to be a part of something beyond ourselves, as we long for a sense of community. At the same time, we want to be separate and unique. Our identities, for ourselves and others, are designed to address both of these aspects. To be human is to deal with these seemingly discordant needs.
This is the path of what it is to be human. At the most basic of levels, we are all crafted from the same materials and driven by the same signals, yet, expressed in a strikingly unique pattern singular to each of us. Our identities and beliefs have not created our uniqueness, as the human potential is much too broad to be so defined.
If you were to give up your identities and beliefs about you, how would this change how you understand yourself?
If you were to give up the identities and beliefs you hold about others, how would this change how you understand them?
Clarity about the beliefs and identities we carry within our lives is needed, as these identities, and the beliefs associated, permeate all aspects of our lives.
With a single identity (whatever that may be), we believe we know everything about a particular person or group of people. We think we know how they are physically, how they relate to others, how their sense of self is derived, how they love and so on. The same occurs within ourselves. The identities we have, or are given to us, can begin to define all aspects of our lives. The power of being a human being, a unique individual, is thrown out the window with these simplistic associations.
Think about one identity and belief you have about yourself. What part of your life is not affected by this identity and its associated beliefs?
Think about one identity and belief you have about a particular person or group of people. What part of your understanding of this particular person or group of people is untouched by this identity and its associated beliefs?
The speed by which identities and beliefs arise can be startling. Some people look at a person or group of people, and within moments and with a great deal of certainty, can have a complete set of beliefs about these individuals. The accuracy of these identities and beliefs is seldom called into question. They simply exist as if they are always real and correct. Likewise, an individual, without question, may also lead with his or her chosen identities, trusting in the expected beliefs associated with this identity.
Some of these identities are, of course, physical, while others are simply created by mental projections. Regardless of what underlies the identity, and its accompanying belief, it is important to understand where and how these beliefs and identities arise.
Think about the identities and beliefs you hold about yourself. From where did these beliefs and identities arise? From within you? From somewhere else?
Think about the identities and beliefs you hold about a person or a group of people. From where did these beliefs and identities arise?
Do our beliefs and identities about self and others simply exist or are they the result of our creations?
The cycle between belief and identity and self and others is a continuous one. We identify each other and ourselves in a myriad of ways, and then we enact an entire system of behaviors, thoughts, and actions based on the beliefs associated with these identities. So engrossed are we in these identities and their associated beliefs, we do not even stop to note how they are linked, nor do we reflect on whether or not any truth is apparent in these associations.
What are some identities you have created for yourself or others have assigned to you? How many beliefs are associated with each of these identities?
Now, choose a person or a group of people and list one identity associated with this person or group. Next list all the beliefs associated with this identity.
How much truth exists in the association between these beliefs and identities? How do you know?