November 15, 2018 – Morning Journaling (Identity)

“Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either, your choices are half chance, and so are everybody else’s.”
– Baz Luhrmann

Well, good morning everyone! I hope your Thursday is off to a beautiful start. It is a tad rainy and chilly here in the Cape Fear area but it could be a lot worse.

Today, in “The War of Art” I continued to read about the traits of professionals (as opposed to amateurs). The main takeaways for me were to not make excuses (got the flu? tough luck, do your work), to “play it as it lay” (life is unfair? well you can’t change that so sit down and do your work), and to prepare for the deep fight, especially against my own habits of self-sabotage. Resistance is a clever douchebag.

My “Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving On” reading sparked a little more inspiration in me than “The War of Art”. The reading was about separating ourselves from our actions and feelings to try and view things as an unbiased observer. This is basically what meditation is, just observing without judgement. By doing that we separate our identity from our thoughts and deeds, which aids in changing behavior.

If I say, “I am a smoker” then my identity is tied up in that behavior. But to think “I am a person who smokes” the behavior becomes an optional act. This is more than just semantics, the way we speak (including our internal speaking) shapes the way we view the world and ourselves. It is difficult to change part of our identity and we feel threatened when others suggest changing behaviors that we identify with. This identity-act connection also prevents us from giving others the benefit of the doubt.

When we say “He is a selfish person” we glue the person to the behavior, instead it is better to think/say “He is a person acting selfishly at this moment”. We are all complicated, multi-faceted, multitude-filled individuals who are more than our actions and thoughts. Much more. Tying ourselves to behaviors limits us and reduces our love in the world.

If I say “I’m not a runner” instead of “I’m a person who is new to running (or doesn’t like running or doesn’t see running as important right now or is choosing not to run)” then that opens the door to someday taking up running more easily. It reduces a barrier, a limit, on my life. Similarly, if I say “I am a runner” and I end up getting injured then it is not just my body that takes a hit, it is my soul. It is better to think of myself as an individual who enjoys running, that way if I get injured I am losing just one thing that brings me joy and not my identity.

The same can be said for titles like mother/father, artistic pursuits like author/painter/actor, or struggles like depression/physical handicaps/PTSD. These things do not define us, they are simply articles of clothing that we wear from time-to-time.

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

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