Identity is a funny thing. We get so hung up on certain beliefs about ourselves – we grasp them like an ultimate truth that is so concrete it makes up who we are. And why is this? It’s because we really like to know ourselves. We like thinking we know who we are, what we’re about and what we like – because the idea that the dreaded uncertainty has leaked into our own identity is terrifying. We’d rather know who we are and be unhappy about those things, than to be in a state of “fuck knows” when it comes to our most personal of spaces – our identity.
I’ve been experimenting this past week with going to early morning yoga classes. Now, as most of you have probably picked up with my posts (particularly if you notice what time I post them at!) – I’m a die hard night owl. I am absolutely in love with the moon; I stay up late and write, I’m productive with business at night, and I simply find my soul fed under the stars. Consequently, I’ve also defined myself as a morning hater. I despise mornings – it’s what I’ve always said.
Yet, this week I found myself getting up at 5am to go to yoga – and I (gasp) loved it.
But wow was I ever resistant! Not to the idea of trying it, but accepting the fact that I actually enjoyed it. It felt like I was cheating on the moon. The blasphemy of having a love affair with the sunrise. As if admitting I liked the early morning, I would no longer be able to call myself something I’ve claimed vital to who I am (night owl). Something as simple as feeling happy sipping my morning coffee while reading my book (after already sweating my ass off on the mat, meditating in the car, and getting some work done – and it still only being 10am) was rocking my world. It felt so wrong. I found myself not even wanting to keep doing it because the more I did it the more the enjoyment grew, and if I leaned into loving this, well then… who the fuck am I??!! Who is this stranger embracing morning whole-heartedly?!?! A stranger….cue stress response.
It’s funny when it comes to these seemingly little things, but even these things are hard for us to accept because it challenges the very ideas we hold about ourselves. In this crazy uncertain world, we expect to at the very least be able to be sure about who we are. And yet, that is really just another idea and belief we have to let go of if we want to grow.
Where you feel resistance most is where you should be leaning.
By resisting this new idea of enjoying mornings in favour of my presumed ideas that I was comfortable with, I was blocking possibilities of who I am, what I do, and what fulfills me.
I could see that I actually wanted to reject the good feelings with this experiment because it didn’t match my predetermined vision of who I was.
In the past I would let these beliefs be seen as pure truths and wouldn’t dare test them or question them. I was afraid of the unknown and found comfort in having myself all “sorted out” and fit perfectly into these well organized (yet highly dysfunctional) boxes. I held onto beliefs that blocked so many possibilities for myself and my life. I’m an anxious person. I need to sacrifice myself for others in order to be a good person. I’m inherently a bad person. I’m small and weak…and the list goes on.
These beliefs blocked me from growing, healing, and becoming who I was meant to be. And they were intensely reinforced because no matter how wrong or hurtful they were to my being, they were also the beliefs where I derived my worth. The more attached we are to beliefs, the more worth we derive from them. Even if it’s in a perverse weirdly upside down way.
Take for example the idea that “I need to sacrifice myself for others in order to be a good person”. Well, I did that constantly. I really wanted to become a good person. And deep down I held a lot of pride in the idea that I was being a good person by doing this. I was proud that,
even especially when I was suffering, that I was still putting others first. That idea about myself and who I was, was providing me a way to feel worthy. And as long as you are tied to this type of belief (and the underlying belief that THIS BELIEF is what MAKES me WORTHY), the more impossible it will be to untie that knot.
If we tie our identity and worth into a belief, and following the rules of that belief, you can bet you’ll have a hell of a battle trying to let it go and probably never be quite successful – until you deal with the “worth issue”. It was when I was trying (and failing) to work on self-love that I realized I still had this belief, and got realistic about how it was serving me (it was the only way I had developed to feel like a worthy human). Pretty hard to embrace a belief of loving yourself and prioritizing your own needs, when it’s in direct conflict with your trusty how-to guide on “good personing” and “being worthy”. As much as I said I wanted to be a self-loving person, I couldn’t actually succeed until I let go of that belief and detached it from my identity.
Admitting and embracing not knowing yourself is a wonderfully, terrifying open space of infinite possibility. I imagine it like floating in space. How brave you have to be to be out there. How unsettling it feels. How overwhelming. How exciting. How liberating. You can’t even rely on a trusty concept like gravity. Who the fuck are you out there floating among the cosmos?
After seeing my resistance to mornings as what it was – a mini identity crisis – I was able to check myself. I was able to see it clearly, and choose to embrace what’s there without holding on to my preconceived notions of who I am. By doing this, I opened myself to possibilities.
What ideas about ourselves do we have tangled in our identities?
What are the possibilities that are being blocked?
As an “anti-morning person” I’ve been blocking the possibility of enjoyment, finding appreciation and love for a whole other portion of the day and more fulfillment in life. I blocked experiences of pleasure, productivity, serenity.
I am still a night owl, but now I see that I am also a morning person (I’m just not a get up in the morning to sit in traffic and go to an office person :P) I don’t have to reject the night owl because I love early mornings now. I made the assumption that by being a night owl I had to hate mornings. Now I reject the black and white, the ever-limiting either-or. And, I have gained a clearer vision of what it is I love – quiet, peace, serenity, un-rushed time to myself doing things I love.
Allowing myself to loosen my grip on defining myself as “anti-morning”, I’ve come to love life in a whole new light (quite literally).