No Identity

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No Identity

Post by Guest on Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:35 am

Not a rant (hopefully), more of a query. Having read over a bunch of my posts, I have once again reminded myself that I am a raging narcissist asshole.

With the necessary self-deprecation out of the way...

So I saw the therapist again yesterday, and this whole time it's been over stuff I was used to hearing: how I didn't like myself, how I can't connect with anyone, how I have absurdly high expectations of myself and if my films aren't Spielberg-level quality I hate it immediately, blah blah blah. Accepting that being a failure is OK and such.

During the last session, I admitted that I had drank myself nearly to a blackout state compensating for being rejected by someone.

Shrink says, "Are you the kind of person who drinks to deal with problems in your life?"

Me: "Not usually."

Shrink: "How did other people take your drunkenness?"

Me: "They didn't care, I act like them."

Shrink: "Explain."

Me: "Well the people at this party were raging douchebags, so I just imitated them. It's a survival thing."

Shrink: "Survival thing?"

Me: "As a kid, I'd get beat up a lot because I acted and looked different from everyone else. I have modeled my entire life on avoiding pain. If I go to this party acting like a geek, I'm gonna get ignored or humiliated. However someone treats me, I treat them the same way back but slightly more intensely, and this creates the most optimal personal interaction."

Shrink: "So are you doing this with me?"

Me: "I do this with everyone."

Shrink: "So how are you treating me?"

Me: "Professionally. Matching your tone."

Shrink: "Part of my job is to match you. The entire point of my job is to make sure you feel comfortable expressing yourself to me, so I do what you do. Which means that the entire time you think you've been matching me for an optimal interaction, you've just been matching yourself."

Me: "Oh."

Shrink: "So if you spend all of this time trying to match everyone else, do you think you have your own identity?"

And that caught me off guard for the first time, and the shrink noted how I was clearly hyperventilating at the idea. Over all the time I've been attempting to improve myself, ever since I found this forum by accident (the old one, two years ago, I'm sure Enail can attest to what a bitter, toxic little worm I was back then), and I've sorta done that. I read the comments on the main website and I'm not as bitter as my fellow virgins there. I've literally bullied people off of this forum and have gotten enough bannings to last a lifetime (and I'm still inexplicably allowed here), but what with the self-hatred and the virginity and the suicide attempts and what have you, never considered that.

I don't know how to make an identity. We talked it over and I couldn't think of anything. I've spent so long imitating people (shrink's word for it was "chameleon," changing colors to hide from a threat) at such a formative age that I have no defining characteristics of my own. Things that deviate from social norms would then become my identity since no one else I knew would be like that, hence why the first word I thought of (and didn't say) was "virgin."

I've said it before, that I am a virgin first, and a human being second, like being a virgin made me subhuman or inferior (it's weakened to "every other virgin who isn't a total fucking neckbeard is OK, but I'm not"). Never identified it as an identity crisis, just some more of the self-hatred game. I like movies, I said that I would call myself a filmmaker if I'd made films.

"Defining yourself by what you want to be is a good start."

Maybe, shrink, maybe.

That made me think about it, really think about it, back towards the days in which I was genuinely convinced I was going to be killed (I believed it back then), and still adjusting to the idea that people don't want to hurt me, at least physically. That I'm still in flight-or-fight defense mode, I've never relaxed from my middle school state, and perhaps it would be good for me if I could stop being perpetually anxious about everything. Finding the identity, though, I don't really know how to do that.

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Re: No Identity

Post by Enail on Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:05 pm

TBH, I'm not sure that most people have a fixed, static identity. Not that everyone goes full-on chameleon like that, but how I would describe myself is contextual in a lot of ways, I don't have one go-to "I am X" that I could point to as my identity, so much as a collection of traits/activities/goals that I could say roughly describe me, but it's not really a packaged for easy understanding. A lot of people base theirs primarily on their situation in life, their job (which can be really hard if they then lose their job or can't work), their goals.

And, depending on how we're defining it, I'm not sure a person needs an identity per se so much as a guidepost. I think maybe two things that might fall under 'identity' that might be of use to you are:

-how should I behave in absence of cues from others to tell me how it's safe or preferable to behave, and

-what qualities/behaviors do I want to retain even when chameleon instinct would have me act differently

Both of those rest pretty heavily on values. That might be one good starting point, since you do have very strong opinions, even if you don't always display them, right? So maybe think a bit about what beliefs are most important to you, what qualities you think make someone a good person, that kind of thing?

(Also, dude, you've had two bannings that I can recall. That barely even rates. Razz)
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Re: No Identity

Post by bomaye on Tue May 05, 2015 8:46 am

Unexpected side-benefit of chameleon: Even if you look completely different from everyone around you, aping them will still make them think "oh, this guy's like I am."

I've had difficulty with identity stuff because every time I locked down an identity or figured out my identity, it disappointed the shit out of me when I found what that identity entailed and what kinds of people were attached to that identity.

I think it's more helpful to take a bunch of sub-identities and traits and mash them together. The things that make you hate your fellow man combined with the things that make you feel a little more alive
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Re: No Identity

Post by reboot on Tue May 05, 2015 9:32 am

I am a chameleon. I have my own core values and beliefs, but can adopt the sociocultural norms of those around me if I feel like it. And I still can project my core values and beliefs, I just pick my framework and delivery method to match my surroundings. I think of it like speaking a language. Expressing myself in Arabic vs English vs French does not change the core meaning of my words, but the phrasing, sentence structure and method of speaking varies by language
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Re: No Identity

Post by Andrew Corvero on Tue May 05, 2015 11:03 am

reboot wrote:I am a chameleon. I have my own core values and beliefs, but can adopt the sociocultural norms of those around me if I feel like it. And I still can project my core values and beliefs, I just pick my framework and delivery method to match my surroundings. I think of it like speaking a language. Expressing myself in Arabic vs English vs French does not change the core meaning of my words, but the phrasing, sentence structure and method of speaking varies by language

Actually there are studies that suggest that expressing yourself in different language slightly affects your personality, so I think you're onto something here with your comparison.

(By the why I've noticed that it's true in my case: I'm much more optimistic, polite and patient when I speak or write in English than when I use my native Italian language. I don't really know why, although I suspect that the fact that I started to speak and write in English as an adult, when my life took a turn for better, might have something to do with that. )

I also think that all people have to adapt to their environment to an extent. It's actually a good skill to have if you learn to use it well: social calibration is something that many people desperately need.

TBH, I'm not sure that most people have a fixed, static identity. Not that everyone goes full-on chameleon like that, but how I would describe myself is contextual in a lot of ways, I don't have one go-to "I am X" that I could point to as my identity, so much as a collection of traits/activities/goals that I could say roughly describe me, but it's not really a packaged for easy understanding. A lot of people base theirs primarily on their situation in life, their job (which can be really hard if they then lose their job or can't work), their goals.

I agree completely. Personal identity is a complex thing, and it changes gradually over time. Your studies, your jobs, your experiences, the people you meet, the books you read and even just the passing of the years always change some parts of you. Some things have a huge impact on you, others affect you much more subtly.

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Re: No Identity

Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue May 05, 2015 2:23 pm

I don't think finding your identity is something you do. I feel like trying to do personality leads to feeling fake. Its more something that develops as you do other things. You hit a point of "well I'd just rather hang out with these people than those" or "I know I'm trying to fit in here but I just can not give [thing going on] a free pass, even if it means blowing my cover" and you know who you really are. Its sometimes difficult to see your own personality without opposition because then its just what you and everyone else do, so its not visible.

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Re: No Identity

Post by Hirundo Bos on Tue May 05, 2015 3:19 pm

When I think of my own issues with identity, I'm reminded of one thing that's more or less in the past, and one thing that's still with me today.

The things that's still somewhat with me today is that I don't have many places where I really feel I belong, and I'm afraid to feel that I belong somewhere new – because it would be so awkward to find out I was wrong.

The thing in the past is a bit more tricky, it had to do with how I was affected by different moods and emotions. They had such an impact my outlook, my perception, my whole mindset, I could hardly recognize myself between one emotional state and the next. And that could be really scary. I've known other people who've felt the same way... In my case, neurology probably made it worse, understanding emotions is of the things I'm not that good at. But it's improved a lot lately, mostly because, well, I've put a lot of effort into getting to know my emotions better. Learning to feel them without getting overwhelmed... learning to know what they mean, how and when to act on them in healthy ways... Don't know if this is the identity issues you're working with, but in my case it's helped me feel a lot more... coherent.
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