Be sure that whatever you are is you.
― Theodore Roethke
Who are you? What qualities make up your personality?
Take a piece of paper and jot down some of the words that are running through your head. Words like: nurturer, fighter, geek, tough, shy, anxious, prideful, competitive, needy, dramatic, etc.
These are powerful words. Just one or two of these words can color an entire personality. Yet where did these words come from? When did you first start beginning to identify with these qualities?
When did you first think “I am the shy one” or “I am the one who takes care of everyone else”? When did you take on these personas and wrongly think that they were part of your essential self? Probably before you were even old enough to remember.
But here’s the beauty that you are missing out on: You don’t have to believe the story of your life as it has been told to you. You don’t have to accept the persona that has been handed to you. In fact, a lot of what limits us in reaching Quantum Love with our partners (and ourselves!) is that we have a story about who we are.
For example, in my family, I was the “smart, sensitive, thoughtful” one. My sister was the “beautiful, athletic, and popular” one. In some families, this kind of labeling can be overt, in others covert. There was a lot of labeling that went on in our family and it was overt. There were a lot of stories we were told about who we were by our parents and as we attached to those stories (which all of us naturally do) it becomes part of your self-identity and your energy.
This happens a lot in relationships, especially when it comes to our emotional intelligence and how we express ourselves to our partner. For example, maybe you are very argumentative, you get triggered when someone makes you feel stupid, or you become enraged when you think your partner is being selfish. As innate as some of these behaviors might feel, I find that your state of being has little to do with the “incident” on which you are putting your attention. It is stemming from the fact that whatever is happening is going against a particular story to which your ego self has attached. So much of our work together is about identifying and questioning those stories that we grew up believing about ourselves, recognizing they don’t define us (or even fit for that matter), and attaching to a different story.
Maybe you remember getting in trouble with your teacher for taking too long on your math assignment. “You’re so slow,” she might have chided. “You always take longer than everyone else in class. What’s the matter with you?” Picture yourself as a six-year-old being talked to in this manner. Were you really slow?
Was that teacher accurate or fair in calling you that? Of course not. Maybe you were taking your time because you liked to be careful not to make mistakes, or because you liked your handwriting to be neat, or maybe because you had so many interesting things in your brain that it were hard to focus just on adding sums. Nonetheless, the damaging ego seed was planted. You began to form beliefs such as “I am slow” and “Everyone in class is smarter than me” and “I am not good at school.” Maybe you began to dread going to school in the morning. Maybe you skipped class. Maybe you avoided your homework on the weekend because it gave you a stomachache. Essentially, you would begin to fulfill the erroneous beliefs that were cast upon you.
Sadly, this kind of thing happens in one form or another to all of us. Every one of us probably has similar stories, whether it’s about being the dumb one in the family or the selfish one or the black sheep or the perfectionist or the one who takes care of everyone else or the class clown or the quiet one or the one who can’t be trusted. We have all these roles within our families that are formed before we can even walk or talk in some cases. And our brain works hard to ensure that we fulfill these roles because that is “who we are.”
Except…it isn’t. Look down at that list of words I asked you to write down. What’s on your list: Shy? Fighter? Smart? Brave? Generous? Anxious? Depressed? Dramatic? I am here to tell you that none of words, positive or negative, are you. There have probably been a lot of times in your life when you felt that way.
But those feelings and thoughts are not who you are. You can’t build your identity on shifting sand, especially because this identity was probably handed to you by family, friends, teachers, and even strangers who should never have had a say in constructing your spirit.
So those descriptions? Those adjectives you identify so strongly with? None of that is really you. That stuff merely makes up your identity. It’s the information I could find on your Facebook or LinkedIn page. It’s the stuff you might share on a date or with a new acquaintance. But I am here to tell you that none of that is the real you.
The real you could never be boiled down to a social media profile. It could never be distilled on a first date. The real you is eternal, unchangeable, formless. The real you is the light inside of you that is always on, the life source that is buried deep within you and watching all of life unfold without ever changing, aging, wavering, or decaying. I call the real you the essential self. And your essential self (rather than your ego self) is the one who will create Quantum Love.
In his amazing book The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer writes, “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind—you are the one who hears it.” In other words, your essential self isn’t the part of your brain that’s reading these words. It’s not even the part that’s thinking about these words. Nor is it the part thinking about making dinner, or the part worried about work, or the part keeping an eye on your nearby child. No, the real you is doing nothing but observing. The real you is the you who hears the thought, not the one who has the thought. The real you is the you that has been inside of you since the day you were created, the you that was there on your fourth birthday and on your fortieth.
Why is it so important to realize that this is the real you? Because once you realize that you are not just the mother, the teacher, the wild child, the golfer, or the tough guy—that you are just you, eternally and unquestionably and unchangeably—suddenly it is easier to let go. You aren’t as threatened by life, whether it’s an unkind word, an argument, a loss of a job, a change in finances, or a problem with your children. All of that stuff is important, yes, but ultimately it cannot impact or detract from the real you. The real you will remain as impervious and entire as a star in the night sky.
So are you a “man’s man”? Are you a shrinking violet? Are you a Type A? Are you a shoulder to cry on? No. Those might be qualities you have noticed about yourself or qualities other people might want from you, but those are all just different clothes you keep in your wardrobe.
So what are you? What’s beyond the wardrobe of personas? What’s underneath it all when you take off the “clothes” of the identity you’ve taken on through the years?
Pure energy. Pure love. Pure possibility. Pure power.
Author: Dr. Laura Berman
To learn more about how to let go of the stories we carry about ourselves, and access the pure energy inside you, check out my book, Quantum Love: Use Your Body’s Atomic Energy to Create the Relationship You Desire.