Dropping Your Identity of Hope: No Strings Attached!

Recently, I was imagining what it’s like to be me, with no hope attached to what I do and don’t do. What an interesting moment.

I realized the degree to which so much of who I’ve been being and what I’ve been doing has been related to hoping that the outcome would be in my favor. Having lived in hope for so long, I can tell you it hasn’t been a fun and easy ride. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone!

As many of you know already, I grew up in a large Catholic family, my dad was a doctor, we belonged to the Country Club, and I was considered the beautiful one in the family. I trained myself to create an identity that would be appealing and not be off-putting to anyone. I wanted to ensure my safety, security, and the belief that I was worthy of love and protection.

As young children, most of us don’t know who the heck we are inside our little Earth suits. We watch what others are doing, emulate some and do the opposite of others. We train ourselves to be who it is safe to be–training ourselves to be what we believe will keep us safe, secure, and protected. We live in hope that we are enough. Enough what?

Am I Worthy of My Own Expression?

Few of us live in families that encourage the fullest expression of who we are naturally.  Instead, we learn to compensate for our lacks, our unworthiness, our unlovableness, our undeservingness. We live in the hopes that we can pull off some role or identity that will, like I’ve said already, keep us safe, secure and protected.

A client of mine, Michael, turned 51 not so long ago. Michael is a recovering addict. More than recovering from substance abuse, Michael is recovering himself from a life of physical violence, emotional neglect and abuse. Yuck!

Michael took on an identity of a tough guy in hopes of safety, protection and security. He was a member of gangs and hurt people badly. He also did really stupid acts–in part, he admits, to show off, and to hopefully kill himself. Because Michael was hurting so bad inside, he hoped that by taking on this identity as a tough guy, he would be respected, appreciated, and belong. It didn’t work.

Now Michael is on this side of 50! And our work together has been a process of reclaiming the abused child, the angry teenager, and the adult looking for love in all the wrong places.

Michael is letting go of these identities of hope, and it scares the pants off of him. And though it’s scary, Michael is discovering his true self. He is slowly integrating this true self into his everyday life. And, in doing so, to his surprise, he is being embraced by people who see him in his beautiful self, in his loving, playful expressions, and in his heartfelt presence. More importantly, he is appreciating who is inside all of the hoping, all the acting, all the roles he hoped would bring him love and safety, but didn’t. He is discovering compassion for himself. “How strange!” he quips!!

One last thing about Michael: he realizes that 98% of his life has been spent doing things for the wrong reasons. As he lets go of his identities of hope, he is having a lot more fun just being himself.

As we age, no matter our age, we have moments when we realize that all the things we’ve done, all the ways we’ve been acting and being, haven’t kept us safe from certain realities of humanness. Fame, fortune, intelligence, athleticism, power, sex-appeal – none of it has kept us from experiencing the inevitability of discovering that no matter what we do, we cannot escape ourselves. This quite often is the moment that a midlife crisis begins. I call this a crisis of faith. This is the bad news and the good news. For most of us, this is where the opportunity to know ourselves beyond our hopes and fears begins. I’ve walked in this valley and stewarded many through it too! It is a wondrous place to be experienced fully, when and if we are willing to take a leap of faith. 

The longer we are on the planet, the more time we have to discover the fullest potential of being who we are. The crisis that occurs through realizing that hoping isn’t useful at all in providing us safety, security and protection, is the catalyst for a very empowering adventure. FUN!!!!

I would love to hear your comments, questions and feedback. Feel free to email me at rosie@theparadigmshifts.com.


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