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Nature of identity?
Chordal
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Post: #1
Nature of identity?
Hey!

So I just decided to waste some time here <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue --> (no, not really; I have a report to work on but am having trouble thinking up words)...

Actually, I don't think this is a waste of time. I've just returned from a day out which included Qigong (alternately: Qi Gong; Chi Kung; Chi Gong) training. While I was there I was attempting to elucidate the impact of my training on my spiritual insight. I'm not sure Qigong is entirely to blame for this, but it's something that came up last night as I was attempting to write my reintroduction. This has to do with the nature of self-imposed narratives in relation to the concept of identity.

Having been without a "home" identity for a number of years, and having lived with a number of temporary ones who switched out with each other, I can kind of see something going on here. I do still carry the concept of "personal mythology," or the explanations people develop to explain what is otherwise beyond their grasp. What I'm about to say, depends on that, plus the concept of "keys" that I mentioned in the reintroduction and in -- if I'm recalling correctly -- one specific backpost here. "Keys," to me, are specifically certain (sensory or self-generated) inputs which trigger thought entanglements which can then give rise to specific modes of being ("selves"), whether those modes are specifically named or not.

Basically, in at least the culture in which I live, it's assumed that most people will have identities. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink --> But just because it's a currently popular idea doesn't mean it's a helpful one. In my experience, identities are formed via memories, reactions, trainings, physicality, the responses of others to us; reasons we come up with to be (or to justify being) the people we are.

A lot of times this can come off as..."I am who I am and you should know better than to confront me with this idea" (I'm sorry, I am on a number of Feeds which have somewhat angry members) or, "Because I possess (X identity) I have specific rights that you (without X identity) don't have." I've been in angry activist mode before, and I've got to say that it doesn't necessarily call up a lot of creativity in confronting others, or confronting reality in general. (Ideology writ large actually doesn't work very well as regards confronting reality in general...) Particularly, when someone bases their right to make a claim on their experience/identity, while often valid, it does create the potentiality for the abuse of that power (though it would likely be counter-argued that the person making the claim is inherently disempowered given societal power structures, but that is in fact a sociological claim which I'm not sure I buy at this time).

The thing is that when we cling tightly to identity, our potentiality suffers. By that I mean, when someone bases their claims on X, Y, and Z immutable but inherently socially-constructed claims about who they are as a person, it is 1) inherently difficult to argue against them unless you're on their level of power, and 2) all the different ways in which they *could* approach the situation -- other than the one they're currently using -- become dimmed. This is because as a person with an identity, one has a predetermined idea of "I", and consequently of how "I" would react in whatever specific circumstance. For me (and I'm still dealing with this), I still have to deal with the drive to harm people who are physically or emotionally violent. I know that isn't a self-preserving mode of being, but it does reinforce my own self-concept when I make that claim to myself. There are other ways of dealing with the situation than resorting to violence-against-violence.

In this specific instance, the threat of violence is the "key," and "I'm someone you shouldn't test," is the narrative. What would be the consequence of using a different narrative? Utilizing a different narrative is, I can see from my experience as a 32-year-old genderqueer person, not necessarily being "weak." However, the idea that anything other than the potentiality of the use of force is weak, is a framing thought which needs to be dealt with before I can remove the reaction of my own aggression in the face of violence.

If we go back farther, we can see the roots of that belief in the fact that I experienced much less threatening stances from others growing up, when I became threatening in turn. Farther than that, and we can see that my parents' ultimate punishment for me was spanking -- that is, physical violence. Also, we can see, I did develop an identity which was useful for throwing off angry vibes, which happens to be Blaze/Adrian, who is still the same one who comes to the surface when these moments arise. The thing I've noticed most about him, and have from the beginning, is that he holds memories of pain. Who would he be without his pain? Or does his pain define him?

So this stuff that I'm going over may be linked, somewhat, to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. It has to do with the questioning of the thoughts that underpin our actions. I'm not wholly certain because I'm not in any way an expert on DBT, but I have experienced it at least twice.

I am thinking, but have not yet tested (and how would I test this, you ask?), the hypothesis that anyone, given the right mix of inputs and the right lack of inputs, would be able to be anyone else (human, at least, and with the same cognitive structure; i.e. a sociopath and non-sociopath would not work out the same) who had ever been in existence. This would imply that the vast diversity of who we are has to do largely with differences in socialization, and that infers that the way we are treated and the world we know -- based on sex, gender, race, class, culture, ethnicity, religion (or lack of), etc. -- is profoundly different depending on the inputs we receive from outside, which are in turn influenced by the way we look and come off to others. (I'm seen as a dark-skinned working-class woman who may possibly be Central Asian; however, that isn't actually my cultural background, that's not really my gender, and I'm actually middle-class and like to dress in work clothes.)

However, I can tell that the above hypothesis is largely based in sociology (which might be read to say that all of who we are is conditioning -- which probably isn't fully true), and probably gives too little credit to things like brain structure and inherent levels of intelligence. I've been able to tell, over the years, that my own level of intelligence is probably relatively high, so far as human intelligence goes. But I don't know if this is inherent or if it is because my parents read to me and stimulated my mind in other ways as a baby. At this point, I somewhat suspect that people are born with certain inherent traits which are stronger than others, much as different ants in colonies are born to be good at different tasks. It's just taken me a bit over 30 years to figure out that I'd probably really be good in the Arts, even though I've been told that I'm "too smart" to work in that manner. Probably by someone who wasn't quite as bright as me. <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue --> (Kidding!)

Identity, from my current vantage point, seems to be formed in relation to the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, as we're immersed in whatever environment we happen to be in. What has been striking to me about this is the close parallel the thought draws to ideas of the ideal of shedding "conditioning" as advocated in Buddhism, and the idea of *wu wei* or action-in-nonaction as in Taoism. I'm not sure I can wholly elucidate the thought process at this point, but I can try. *Wu wei* doesn't really advocate nonaction at all times. It comes closer to the thought of doing things spontaneously, when they need to be done and when it is time to do them, to my current best understanding. But I'm really a beginner at Taoism.

What I've seen here is the idea of not naming who you are at any one time, because in the act of naming, one limits oneself as to who one can be. When one imposes a narrative on oneself as to who one is, one automatically creates boundaries which in normal life help to contain and delimit the self. Sometimes we want limitations; sometimes we don't. What I feel is standing between myself and mediumship capacity is that I cling too tightly to my own self-narrative. This narrative is stabilizing at the same time that it defines who I am and who I am not. Sometimes this is useful; sometimes it gets in the way.

That is to say, what would happen if I decided to fully shift into Bell? To give him that control? How would I get back? Would I then know things about him and who he is, that I don't know now? To keep him in control, would I have to provisionally accept any memories or history of his as true?

If my history defines who I am, then an alternate history should define who I could be but am not.

If I "shed" my "conditioning," would I not then be closer to the ideal of embodying the Divine in total, if the Divine is at core potentiality-made-flesh? Would that not be closer to the ideal of becoming "enlightened," paralleling the concept of channeling Void (the mother of all things), and in the process becoming familiar with the state between life (story) and death (no brain -- no story)?

I'll try and work on my paper now. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->
2014-05-04 4:46
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