"Who am I?" It’s the most basic question of existence and we’ve been busy answering it for eons of time. Every answer is a definition, a limitation, a label we stick on or a box we stuff into.
Who are you? How do you define yourself? “I am a decent person. I’m a rebel. I am powerful. I’m a victim. I like this, I hate that. I’m a good boss, a reluctant employee. I’m a therapist, a truck driver, a kind person, an introvert, a daredevil, a writer, a woman, man, mother, child. I am religious, political, creative, stuck, hopeful. I am smart, fat, independent, athletic, relaxed, shy, feminine, tough, lonely, stressed out, clumsy, beautiful, aging, cold, hungry…” you get the idea. Whatever follows “I am” is yet another answer to that age-old question.
Everywhere you look, people are striving to get clear on “Who I am.” Racism, sexism, Catholicism, Protestantism, ageism and any other -ism is a way of clarifying “Who I am” by determining – and rejecting – “Who I am not.” (Perhaps the reason for so much division in the world right now is that people are feeling less secure in their old identities.) It’s been a grand adventure, diving in to all these definitions of self, seeing if they fit and how they play out, but the game is getting old... at least for some of us.
Every version of “Who I am” includes its rules and guidelines: no smoking, drinking or swearing; we always do this, but we never do that; we take care of our own tribe, and shun or pity “them”; we know the way to heaven, they don’t. We are civilized, they are savages. On and on. Think back over your life and lifetimes, consider all the beliefs you’ve taken on. When you’re born into a particular faith, by default it’s the “right” one, complete with the fables and traditions that prop it up. When you’re born into a family system, its beliefs, habits, worldviews and biases are what feels right to you, at least until you start questioning that particular box.
It’s the fundamental duality: “This is me; that is you.” But what happens when we decide to go beyond duality?
Most humans can’t imagine letting go of right and wrong, good and bad, male and female, because life without these definitions is at best awkward, and maybe even threatening. The first thing we identify is gender (“It’s a boy!”), which establishes everything that follows. We can hardly fathom not having that definition. Can you imagine applying that ambiguity to everything? Even us Shaumbra have our own self-definitions, albeit loosely held. “I’m a rebel. I’m gritty, strong, persistent, tough. I hate labels. I’m independent. I’m a loner.” Who are we if not those things?
Definitions are not inherently wrong or inaccurate. Yet, we are being challenged to let them go. The October Shoud was, for me, very much about this. Over the years I’ve let go of so very much, and still, there was Adamus, shaking me by the shoulders and telling me I was still holding on! To what? What did he see that I was oblivious to? Over the following days and weeks, it started getting clearer, and was mostly about how I still identify myself.
For example, here’s a belief that became glaringly obvious: “I need to constantly remind my daughter to get her homework done. If she struggles or flunks at something, it means I didn’t do my job. If she’s unhappy, I need to help her fix it. If she’s struggling with friends or life situations, I need to offer the wisest advice anyone has ever heard.” But then it dawned on me (or maybe Adamus hit me over the head): Her life is not mine to manage! How she does in school, her life path, her challenges and choices – these have nothing to do with me! It’s her life. All I get to do is stand back and watch. I can provide food, clothing and shelter until she’s ready to do that for herself, but anything else makes both of us miserable. She is not an extension or a reflection of me. Her self and her life are not mine. (Same goes for my sons, parents, siblings and everyone else.)
Adamus said it over and over and over, “This is not yours.” And the more I apply it, the more interesting life gets. A couple weeks ago my back started hurting. Maybe too much snow shoveling, too much sitting, too much whatever, but I was hunched over and hobbling around like I’d just aged 30 years. The usual interrogation – “Why does it hurt? What did I do? What’s wrong with me?” – suddenly paused. “Maybe it’s not mine!” And then, “Well, who does it belong to then? Where did it come from? Can I send it back?” (Love the mind and all its questions…)
And then the answer: “Doesn’t matter whose it is,” my Self said. “It’s still not mine.” As I breathed in those words, something immediately changed. The painful clenching eased, I literally stood up straight and felt my back relax and open.
My body had been holding onto the pain for dear life, tightening up, wanting to fix it. But the moment I declared, “This is not mine!” it relaxed and let go. I didn’t instruct my body to let it go. In fact, that would have been fighting “what is” and made it hold tighter. I just decided it wasn’t mine, which gave the body permission to let go. The pain dropped immediately and was gone within minutes. I realized if I had tried to “fix” the pain, my body would have held it right there for me to work on for as long as necessary. It’s supportive that way…
The same goes for all my other “responsibilities.” Since I told Taryn I’m no longer managing her school career, I’ve watched her grades balance out, her time management improve and her already high self-confidence go through the roof. I didn’t tell her to take responsibility for her stuff, only that I’m not responsible for it anymore. And whaddya know, she stepped right up!
When I abandon whatever isn’t mine and simply let myself exist, things change. Where there used to be the perfunctory “guidance” about what I “should” do, now there is knowing. Where there was the constant congestion of having too much to look after, a new sense of ease and flow is bubbling up. Where duty used to overtake inspiration, I now – to borrow a phrase – follow my bliss!
Could it be that everything isn’t mine?
What are you trying to fix because you think the problem is yours? Are you poor, sick, confused, lonely? It’s not yours! YOU, your true Self, doesn’t have any problems, which means any problem you experience isn’t yours. Whether you took it on from family, teachers, friends, past lives, mass consciousness or whatever, it’s still not yours! But rest assured that it will stick around as long as you keep playing with it, viewing it as an obstacle, claiming it as “your problem.”
When I try to heal something or sort it out or just get rid of it, I’m still focused on “it.” But remembering that “it” isn’t mine seems to poof it into non-existence. Energy seeks resolution when you allow. How many things in your life might just “fix” themselves when you no longer claim them as yours? Health issues? Abundance issues? Relationship issues? Can you be so irresponsible to let all that stuff go and stop trying get it right? Could it be that any discomfort about anything is caused by holding onto something that isn’t mine?
We took on all these definitions and issues to help figure out “Who I am.” But the interesting thing is they are all based in duality, because “Who I am” must include “Who I am not.” If I am this, I am not that. So I’ll never, ever find the right answer to the question, because the “right” answer must also bring in the “wrong” one!
But here’s the brilliance: When I let go of what isn’t mine – which is basically everything – and release all these “answers” I’ve been experimenting with, I can finally move out of duality and into desire. Which might be the most important shift in my whole existence.