Identity Traps are the belief that you should live in a way that is determined by others such as your friends, colleagues and family, and the assumption that these people will react to things as you would.
To find true happiness, you must understand how your unique emotional nature responds to things. You must take the time to observe and seriously consider your own emotional reactions. If you attempt to fit your emotions to a standard that is defined by others, you lose touch with your true self and blind yourself to the most important part of you-the things that would make you happy.
You don’t have to live a life that isn’t yours
Your negative emotions can act as signals, letting you know that there’s a part of your life that is uncomfortable and needs attention. Don’t suppress these emotions but rather acknowledge them honestly and without judgement.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s just as damaging to deny your positive emotions. Certain things that please you may be frowned upon by friends and colleagues. So what?! Your happiness is the object of your actions. Does it really make a difference if others claim they know what is “correct”?
Your personal positive emotions are the seeds of a happier and true life. Every day they are trying to tell you how you can be happy. Ignore them, suppress them, or deny them and you lose the vital guideposts that could lead you toward happiness.
Acknowledge these four basic principles to help to avoid the Identity Trap:
- You are a unique individual that is different from all other human beings. No one else has the exact same nature as you; no one else reacts to things or sees the world exactly as you do. No one can dictate what your identity should be; you are the best qualified person to discover it.
- Each individual acts from his or her own knowledge in ways that they believes will bring them happiness; acting to produce the consequences that they think will make them feel better.
- Treat things and people according to their own identities in order to get what you want from them. Just as water isn’t a sandwich, it’s just as unrealistic to expect one person to act as someone else does. You have no control over the identities of people, but you can control the way in which you deal with them.
- You view the world like no one else as a result of your own experience, interpretation and limits of perception. You need not know the absolute truth about everything in the world.
Instead of searching for absolute truths, ask yourself: does it work? Does your identification of things lead to the consequences you expect? If it does, what you’ve perceived was true enough for that situation. Acknowledge the context of the situation and be skeptical when generalizing from that test to draw broader conclusions.