Self-awareness and identity theft

Few want to be in the “out” crowd. We have a need to belong.

by Irene Conlan — 

Many people these days are working for greater self-awareness, wanting to hone their individual strengths, weaknesses, beliefs and attitudes in an attempt to live life consciously and more fully. We are seeking to know who we are individually and how we fit into the whole. We are all seeking our true identity.

Not long ago, there was a lengthy story on the late news about identity theft — how the thieves get your information, what they do with it and how you can protect yourself from having your identity stolen. My mind then wandered off on a tangent, and I began to consider identity theft in a different way.

Don’t we all, in a way, commit identity theft? Think about it. We take little pieces from one person’s identity and claim it for our own and a little piece from someone else and use it on a regular basis as a statement of who we are.

For example, someone comes up with a clever saying — probably on late night TV — and soon everyone is saying it, presumably also wanting to appear clever. Many people today are even talking in text message shorthand — “I just talked to my BFF and OMG was she excited.” Speaking in texting is the “cool” thing to do now, and BTW, I dislike it intensely. (Translation: BFF = best friend forever; OMG = oh, my God; BTW = by the way). When someone sends me an e-mail full of text abbreviations, I simply delete it.

When a new hairdo comes out, women will rush to the salon to get it —  even if it makes them less attractive. Remember the beehive? When the fall fashions come out, women (and men) want to be the first to be seen in the new colors and styles, even if they are all wrong for their body types. I particularly think of mini skirts on women larger than size six. And God forbid if I should have last year’s “in” logo on my designer jeans instead of this year’s “in” logo.

Few want to be in the “out” crowd. We have a need to belong. We have our heroes, and we adjust some part of ourselves to resemble them. Sometimes this is done consciously, but often it is done unconsciously.

We want to conform, to belong and sometimes we give up a part of ourselves and infuse traits and language from others to do that. I am reminded of the time my then second-grader came home from school with a plea to go to the drugstore to buy a comb. “I just have to have one, Mom,” he begged. The next morning he came out ready for school with his hair parted down the middle and the comb sticking out of his back pocket. I asked him why he wanted to part his hair that way, and he replied, “Because I just want to be me. I don’t want to be like anyone else.”

I knew better than to comment, but when I was at the school later that day, I wasn’t surprised to see that every second-grade boy had his hair parted down the middle and the same comb sticking out of his back pocket. So much for being “me.”

So what about your quest for self-awareness? I suggest that you become aware of who you are imitating and why. Why do you want to be like someone else? What is it about them that you admire and want to imitate?

There are those wonderful individuals who express who they are without concern for what everyone thinks. Those who were around in the sixties can remember the outrage of parents whose sons grew their hair long. It seemed like the end of the world had come upon them. Now we don’t blink at red, green or purple hair, Mohawk haircuts, spiked hair or no hair at all. But even hairstyles are usually worn to be a part of a group — even rebels and nonconformists want to fit in somewhere.

So how can you belong and still express who you really are? Do you know who that is? You can get the answers most clearly in meditation. Ask yourself, Who do I imitate and why? What is my true identity? Then simply let the answers begin to filter in. The best part is that if you know who you are, you won’t lose your identity by thieving too many parts from someone else.


Irene Conlan has a master’s degree in nursing, is a certified hypnotherapist and a certified past-life regression therapist at The PowerZone in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 3, Jun/July 2009.

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