Avoiding the Identity Trap

submitted by jwithrow.Identity Trap

The identity trap is the belief that you need to conform to what others think that you should be. It is when you feel the need to speak or act a certain way because other people think that you should speak or act that way. It is when you participate in an event or join an organization because others expect you to do so.

While these other people who expect you to conform to certain expectations are typically well-intentioned, you are doing yourself a disservice if you allow yourself to be pressured into the identity trap. Your life will not be harmonious if you are not true to your own inner self.

People, often subconsciously, do not see others as individuals but rather they see others as members of a particular group. They then assume that the other person holds all of the associated group’s beliefs and traits and thus they expect the other person to speak and act accordingly. But everyone is a unique individual and groups are comprised of individuals.

Individuals have a responsibility to themselves to do what they think is right at all times. Individuals have a responsibility to stay true to their beliefs and principles. Individuals do not have a responsibility to put on a façade because other people expect them to be something other than themselves. Falling into and remaining stuck in the identity trap is an impediment to your personal freedom. You can never be free if you must pretend to be something that you are not.

Harry Browne, in How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World, laid out four specific principles to recognize in order to avoid the identity trap. They are as follows:

1. You are a unique individual — different from all other human beings. No one else has the exact same nature that you have; no one else reacts to things in exactly the way you do. No one else sees the world exactly as you do. No one can dictate what your identity should be; you are the best qualified person to discover what it is.

2. Each individual is acting from his own knowledge in ways he believes will bring him happiness. He acts to produce the consequences he thinks will make him feel better.

3. You have to treat things and people in accordance with their own identities in order to get what you want from them. You don’t expect a stone to be a fish. And it’s just as unrealistic to expect one person to act as someone else does. You don’t control the identities of people, but you can control how you deal with them.

4. You view the world subjectively — colored by your own experience, interpretation, and limits of perception. It isn’t essential that you know the final truth about everything in the world; and you don’t have the resources to discover it.

Avoid the identity trap and realize your true individual potential.

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