Identity: What is Your Point of Reference?
While meditating this morning, I remembered some research I had done as a grad student on identity. Specifically, ‘global identity,’ which refers to “consciousness of an international society or global community transcending national boundaries, without necessarily negating the importance of state, nation, or domestic society” (Shinohara, 2004). Originating in United Nations (UN) literature, global identity has been highlighted to motivate action against global conflict, poverty, epidemic diseases, and environmental degradation. I applied the concept to energy use and climate change, and found that identifying globally is associated positively with our energy use reduction behaviors.
Of course, we have many identities; one or more are salient at any given time. Do you identify as a human being, vegan, mother, father, brother, sister, friend, activist, academic, inventor, professional, artist? The list goes on and on.
In my meditation, the link between my own global identity and my point of reference became apparent. Since high school, I’ve had a very strong sense of global identity; I suspect it came from reading about the world’s ills and feeling a passionate commitment to do something about them. When I thought about what I wanted to do in the world, I thought about what the world needed and how I could make a sizable impact. This way of thinking led me to study environmental resource management, and then climate change and behavioral change. I also studied and taught design thinking, attracted by its intrinsically motivating process. I worked for the UN on multiple environmental projects in ten Pacific Island Countries, and then for myself, co-creating and applying a model for changing the way teams, organizations, and communities collaborate and solve problems.
Another tendency I have is to put others first, especially family, friends, and the disadvantaged living beings of the world. I identify strongly as a helper and giver. I lost sight of myself here too, prioritizing above my own needs the needs of those I love, and those whose needs are greater than my own. After many years of working in this way, I succumbed to adrenal fatigue. With facilitation and guidance from my dear Reiki teacher, Geneviève Vulser, my incredibly generous mentor and cousin DJ Sinseer, and my Chinese medicine healer, Eric, I experienced a deep healing and was able to see myself from a new (and more accurate) perspective.
I emerged from with a new point of reference: me.
Somewhere along the way, in all my thinking about the Earth, about animals who suffer, and about other people, I had lost sight of myself. The insight that emerged once again for me to absorb and never forget was this: If I put myself first and meet my own needs, I will be better able to serve the world, give to the world, and benefit those who need my help.
A close friend said something to me almost a decade ago that now comes back to me, and puts this insight in another way: “Do what makes you happy, and the universe will be happy.” Thanks, Chien-Wen, you are correct!
This insight transformed my life; it was time to learn the lesson once and for all.
I stopped what I was doing in order to stop the way in which I was doing it, and changed my point of reference to me. I can feel my neurons rewiring and re-firing. Now I begin with my needs, my sensitivities, my talents, my goals, and my unique perspectives. I begin with grounding, meditation, dream journaling, and reflection; connecting with Reiki energies and the source of my intuition, I am guided at every step. I cultivate clarity about what I want, and how I want to work, give, and serve. It’s time to begin again with an approach that honors me, so that I can serve from the best of me.
Intuitively, I realize that I now listen to my own voice; all my love for the world is being heard louder and clearer than ever before. I am grateful to rediscover myself in my quest for global transformation. The change I initiate in me, I bring to the world.
What are the identities that are salient for you? What is your point of reference? Are you putting yourself first? Do you serve your causes from the best of you?