The stage was set and 150 people were eyeing on the stage for the upcoming performance. I had to sing in that college function and to no surprise I was more nervous than excited. The entire auditorium was full with college students who were on top of their noise and hooting. The performer before me had the toughest 4 mins of his life with that crowd. I was almost scared to go blank, when something got my attention. There was a kid standing on the other side of the backstage. I was surprised to see ‘a kid’ in the college function. Indeed, I never saw him before. On the little enquiry I came to know he was our professor’s kid and he brought him along. This kid was curiously peeping out from the curtains to see the audience and was getting the delight in that. It was evident that he wanted to be on the stage but compelled by his father to stay back. I wished he was grown up to take my place on the stage.
The Kid was not my point of attention. What really flashed in my mind was, that even I used to be so carefree in my childhood, then how and when did I become such a nervous deadwood? What made me be like this?
If I ask you that define yourself in 4 adjectives, then some may come up with positives and some with negatives. Isn’t it true for us all that we were not born with and like those adjectives and somewhere in our lives we acquired traits to be like them. Be it Arrogant, Witty, Clever, Cunning, Humorous, Analytical etc. and so on. When did we created those associations in life? If you see your entire life spent till now as a movie and rewind it then you’ll notice that there were some “defining moments” in our life when we were growing up that created these associations and hence created what we call as our identities. These identities form our base for success and limitations. On one hand they have led us to success till now, on the other hand they limit our behaviours to express and live fully. For example, I rely very heavily on humour as my defence shield to deal with difficult situations and conversations. This has led me to maintain cordial relations with my peers and friends throughout till now, but on the other side this being my identity makes me fake and inauthentic with them. Being inauthentic in any situation takes away your personal power and self-expression. Wherever you lack self-expression and power, you tend to lose confidence and control. This is how we all struggle in the identity trap.
The bad news is that we can never get rid of identity traps, but the good news is that by being aware of them in action and creating a distinction between them lets you free from them. They will keep coming and you should just be aware and tell yourself about the trap in play, to help you regain your self-expression and power.
According to a study these “defining moments” that create our identities occur in our life at different ages with broadly following conditioning.
- At early childhood, generally around the age of 5 years when we face our first impacting failure or defeat that make us realize that “something is wrong with me”. For example, a child who is trying hard to do something and gets a scolding for not being able to do it properly. Now it being his first taste of failure and he not being mature enough to deal with it thinks that he is incapable and hence will try harder next time to regain his stature. Now the method or the means to attain the success will form his identity base to cover his self-belief of incapability. Like in my case humour is the shield for my limited belief of NOT being stronger than the other person, hence humour avoids the situation of conflict so that I can avoid confrontation.
- In the age of teens when a defining moment leaves us with the feeling of being left-out or not belonging.
Above cases may look difficult and unconvincing right now, but if you reflect back in the timelines of your life and see those defining moments that created the associations that you identify with yourself as, then you will get the flash of insight as how they limit your behaviour and at the same time have been your success factors.
Sending Love, laughter and Joy …. Parth