The question of identity assumed particular significance for me when I gave up my role as a typographer, with the associated identities of nine-to-five workers, employees, people who divided their lives between the work and the fun parts.
When I became a co-proprietor of my store in Manhattan I shifted into a new set of identities. I was self-employed, a retail salesperson and wholesale buyer, a crystal authority, and someone who dealt with the public. These weren't job descriptions I had ever expected to assume.
During my formative years I never heard anyone say, "When I grow up I want to own a crystal store." It was -- and is -- a fairly arcane identity, and one which, like a large and unfamiliar piece of clothing, took me some time to grow into.
During the past several years I've assumed more identities -- workshop and seminar leader, counselor, Reiki master. Each new role has presented its own set of challenges, and one of the lessons I've learned is that the ability to powerfully create the reality I desire has a lot to do with my feelings and beliefs about the identity who is creating them.
Identities are both the vehicles we use to create our particular realities and the screens through which we filter the realities we've created. I, as a store owner, for example, create a reality in which I have unique opportunities to relate with the widest possible variety of people. My customers bring richness and stimulation into my lives; they expand the boundaries of my own world.
Our identities also affect the way we respond to external reality. I have special interests in the economies of all countries which export crystals, the discovery of new crystals, sales tax and other Internet issues, and other things which would be of little or no concern to most people.
I've also learned that an identity can be like a straightjacket, giving me reasons for not being able to manifest what I desire.
At the beginning of my store owning identity, for example, because I felt that a vital part of it was to be responsible I believed that I could never take a day off. That would be irresponsible. After a while I realized that this kind of thinking could turn my business into a crystal prison, and I revised my beliefs accordingly.
When I began my career as a counselor, I believed that I had to assume an identity called therapist, which according to my own past history as a client, meant being a guru-like, all-knowing deity with whom the client must fall into a hopeless adoration and dependence called transference, and re-live, with great suffering, all the relationships in which his/her longings for love and acceptance were never sufficiently realized.
I didn't choose to assume that identity (nor, I think, do a majority of responsible and caring therapists). I sought neither adoration nor dependence; my intention was to serve as a guide who would assist my clients in developing their own abilities to empower themselves. In order to accomplish that, I needed to release my old beliefs and create something new.
The challenges I faced as I took on new identities resemble those of parents who feel that their roles mean sacrificing all other identities, the lawyer who feels her image would be tarnished if her clients ever found out that she was taking a course in flamenco dancing, the boy who thinks being a good child means not ever telling his parents his problems.
Our identities become prisons unless we learn to make them more flexible and redesign them in accordance with our larger purpose in being. We need to make them our vehicles for transportation, not the drivers.
It is helpful to realize that prisons though our identities may be, they are often very comfortable ones. They regulate our lives, order our choices, keep us out of trouble. They protect us from having to step out into an unnavigated sea and be willing to lose sight of the shore in order to discover new lands.
Once we are ready to make that journey, and ready to view identity as just one more wardrobe item in the baggage of physical existence some practical steps are helpful. The first of these is to step out of the identity costume to see what we've actually designed. We can do this by making a list of what we consider to be the rules which govern our most all-encompassing identities.
Sometimes people get stuck because they may write, "I worry about my children," and think, "Well, that's just my problem, it's not an identity." See how you feel if you write, "Parents worry about their children." That will feel more like part of an identity.
My earliest store owning identity list might have included the following items.
There is some measure of truth to each of these statements, but if I'd lived my life by these and others I originally considered rules, I'd still be in the crystal prison--or worse.
Some people, rather than writing down the key features of an identity, may prefer to draw a picture of who they think they have to be. In either case. take time to experience how it feels to be inside this identity.
In doing so, be especially aware of the emotions which surface. You might discover that guilt is the glue which sticks your identity to you, or fear, or resentment. When you identify an emotion with a powerful fuse, your most important assignment is probably to work on releasing it.
Once you feel that you've dissected the component parts of your particular identity you're ready to consciously create a new one. You may wish to follow the list-making procedure and write down the rules by which you choose to live, i.e., "I am a mother who takes time for herself." "I return from my vacations with new energy and commitment."
Make your specifications and then visualize yourself living in them. How do they feel? A little snug? So loose and baggy that you get lost in them? If the fit isn't perfect alter as needed, and remember to allow room in which to grow.
Like caterpillars cozy inside the woolly walls of their bodies, we may all feel reluctant to shed our comfortable, well-worn identities. On the other hand, how do you feel about flying?
All crystals, because of their high rate of vibration, help us to shed unwanted aspects of our identities and to realign us with our highest purpose in being. In general I recommend grounding crystals (black tourmaline, smoky quartz, hematite, obsidian, tiger's eye) to help keep us centered while we're going through identity shifts. Some of these also help us clarify our sense of self.
I've described obsidian as the best friend who tells you the truth you don't want to hear. This no-frills stone will clearly let you know when you're not being true to yourself.
While obsidian effectively knocks down superficial sources of self-esteem, hematite and smoky quartz help to bolster a true sense of self-esteem, one which is based, not on external realities, but on the inner ground of being. They tell us we deserve simply because we are. Smoky quartz is, in addition, one of the primary manifesting stones. Once we have our ideas of who we want to be, this stone helps us to realize our vision in physical form.
I also highly recommend tabular crystals. These act as bridges between our old and new identities.
Caterpillars may turn into butterflies overnight, but we humans, with our opinions and fears about change, can take longer. Rhodonite, as the stone for patience, assists us as we develop our wings.
Like crystals, flower and other essences help us to release psychic baggage which blocks us from our soul connection. The following essences are especially in easing one through change.
When we want to change, there are usually people around who mirror -- sometimes quite vocally -- our reluctance to release the past. Walnut helps one to listen, instead, to the inner voice which calls for transformation. Like a tabular crystal, it assists in bridging the gap between the past one is leaving and the future destination.
Sagebrush has an obsidian-like energy in its unsparing ability to help us release that which isn't essential to our identities. With this remedy, one often experiences a kind of emptiness which makes it possible to consciously choose the elements one wishes to be part of a new being.
Two Wild Earth Animal Essences stand out in the matter of transformation. The butterfly being such a powerful symbol of transformation, Butterfly essence is a natural choice.
Another animal which undergoes significant shape changes in its life is Frog, and the Frog essence helps to ease us through our own changes. This essence also helps to release emotional baggage which may stand in the way of change.