A reader writes:
I’m going through a period of immense change. I feel like I’m at a point in my journey where I’ve had to end some really close relationships and leave a job because they weren’t aligned with my values, priorities, or path of growth. Still, change isn’t easy. Change itself causes a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. So even though I feel very confident I need to clear these things in order to move forward, so much change leaves me feeling unstable. Do you have some words of wisdom related to having faith in yourself, trusting your intuition, while moving through times when so many things tied to your identity are so up in the air?
If we feel a loss of identity in times of great change, we’re actually the MOST free.
Anam Thubten, a Tibetan Buddhist monk writes in his book, No Self No Problem:
True freedom is emancipation from our concepts, from the psychological veil that is distorting our view of the way things are. When such freedom is attained, we begin to see that life is inherently perfect, just as it is . . .
We get scared (sometimes terrified) in the middle of life-altering change, because it feels like a death.
It IS a death, actually.
So we look for ways to grip onto something to feel more secure; A place to feel safe; A refuge from dying. And the way we express it most is by searching for an identity.
We want to know who we are as we try to attach to something, whether that’s in faith or trusting our intuition, seeking an explanation, or even wanting a spiritual awakening.
But in the midst of change, we can feel like we’re spinning on a wheel. The more we hold on the more we get nauseous and dizzy.
If we don’t cling to the past trying to make something that no longer exists make sense, and we don’t try to predict and control our future, we’re left in the present, simply with emptiness.
It’s there in THAT non-attachment where we achieve our utmost certainty in ourselves and our path.
I see it as a great adventure. The fun is in being curious. And that curiosity can lead us in exploring whole new exciting territories.
We can ask, Who am I now? But the answer comes from NOT answering the question. Because as soon as we ask the question, the Who am I now? is already gone, slipping into the past already.
This may seem super esoteric. But it’s so simple and so close, our minds simply don’t know what to do with it.
It’s these times of transition that force us to let go of everything we know so that we can discover the TRUTH of our inherent nature.
And that is: The very thing we’re seeking is already here.
Whenever times-of-great-change occurs, I trust great things are happening. In the midst of feeling like I’m losing myself and no longer know who I am anymore, I know I’m coming closer to HOME.
I’m being stripped of the layering accumulated throughout my lifetime — beliefs, lies, and distortions that I learned to carry, covering who I truly am inside.
Whenever I question, “Who am I?” it’s a sign I’m closer to knowing the answer deeper than ever before.
Each time my life disrupts and I’m off swimming (sometimes flailing, sometimes drowning), I learn how to let go of efforting to know who I am more and more.
Releasing that “trying” sets me free. Free to be me. Always changing. Always dying. And always reborn.
Here’s to knowing the truth of who we are!