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The Problem of Identification

I can now start to lay the groundwork for the usefulness of content-less awareness (which I call Presence) in our lives and in the framework of psychotherapy. When we focus on the content of awareness, we identify with specific content to the exclusion of other content. We identify by nationality, by political party, by religion, by values, by character styles, by gender, by socio-educational brackets, and on. Our identifications serve many purposes, both supportive and limiting. But, the most striking thing to me is that we actually believe that we ARE these identifications – that they are synonymous with our essence or existence. And this presents significant problems. Since we cannot always achieve that which we identify with (“I’m an A student”), and the world is always changing (our partner may reject an established way of relating), and those qualities which we may have dis-identified with (“I’m not a forceful person”) may be required to deal with what lies ahead, any inability to discard or change old identifications leaves us stuck in our lives and unable to meet the new circumstance fluidly and creatively. We often don’t quite realize that we are limited by our over-identification with some fixed form; we just feel stuck, or incapable, or believe that acting differently “just isn’t me”. Knowingly and un-knowingly, we would rather suffer than to relinquish our fixed form – the way that we “know” who we are. But, what if the particular form was not what we identified with? What if our identification was with our awareness itself? With our very Presence? Then there would be a sense of continuity of self (of existence) regardless of how we or our environment changed. Then there would be a greater sense of security, since we would feel a sense of constancy amidst the change. We would still identify with certain content, but the identification would be more malleable, and would change or disappear when circumstance and/or choice dictated. This would be a paradigm that would allow for growth and change, while allowing for us to stay with that which is actually working for us in our lives.