Who Do You Think You Are?
Who do you think you are? But for real, who do YOU think YOU are? In the western world most of us identify who we are with what we do. What we have. And what we have achieved. Think about how you would describe a notable individual. Let’s use investor and author Ray Dalio as an example.
According to Wikipedia: Raymond Dalio is an American billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist. Dalio is the founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, one of the “world’s” largest hedge funds. As of January 2019, he is #79 of the world’s 100 wealthiest people.
What would happen if Ray Dalio lost his money? Or had an amazingly bad year at his hedge fund? All of a sudden the identity he worked so hard to attain and that forms our picture of him would be significantly diminished or even disappear. He would no longer be thought of as Ray Dalio the unassailable investor.
For most of us the loss of something we have come so closely to identify with is a devastating experience. It destabilizes us. That is because the majority of us rely on these ego-based constructs for our self worth. I do. I wish I didn’t and I am trying not to, but I do. And the reason I am writing this is because I realize that this is an inevitable road to failure in life. Titles, power, and material wealth are fleeting. You cannot take them with you when you die, you will eventually retire or move on from your job or position, and power, while intoxicating, fades. True fulfillment can only occur when your self worth comes from beyond the ego.
Your title is not who you are.
Your money is not who you are.
The power you have and the praise you receive do not make you who you are.
Who we THINK we are is not who we are.
As Eckhart Tolle explains, “Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
The idea that everything surrounding our ego-based identity is fleeting has been espoused and explained by countless philosophers and spiritual leaders for thousands of years. When you are able to feel fulfilled without needing material wealth, power, or praise, you have reached a higher state of consciousness that improves your enjoyment of everyday existence, and extends this enjoyment even to the things you once felt the need to covet.
If a life filled with money, fame, or power is your goal, then everything I just said is nonsense. But if a life rich in fulfillment, joy, and love is your goal then, what I just said is everything.