If I am more frightened of the appearance, than I am confident about my ability to do anything about it, I have allowed that appearance to steal my identity. Rev. Jesse Jennings
We hear about identity theft all the time. I’ve witnessed some clever, and some scary commercials about it. You can purchase both identity theft insurance and programs that alert you to its possibility. I have both. Safe to say, identity theft is real and our awareness of it essential.
With identity theft in mind, we are encouraged to avoid carrying too much personal information with us, especially our social security number. Buy a shredder. Run a credit report every three months. Good advice. Be aware.
Yet, there is, in my opinion, a far more common and yet more dangerous type of identity theft that is pervasive in our world. It is dangerous to your health, your relationships, your prosperity, and your enjoyment of life in general. I am referring to Spiritual Identity Theft.
Spiritual Identity Theft occurs when we permit someone or something outside of ourselves to redirect our thinking, and thus our lives, in a manner that prevents us from expressing who we really are, or obtaining what we really want. Have you ever wanted to “speak up” about something, but declined to do so because of what others might think? Have you ever sincerely desired something or someone, but failed to act upon your desires because you might fail, might be rejected? Have you ever come upon a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity, only to reject it because you felt yourself unqualified, unworthy, didn’t have the time, didn’t have the money? If so, you have experienced Spiritual Identity Theft.
Have you ever listened to someone endlessly rag on and on, talking about something you have absolutely no interest in, because you did not want to offend them, or you didn’t want to be impolite? Have you ever given away your integrity to take the easy way out? Spiritual Identity Theft.
Except…in these circumstances, and others too, no one is stealing our true identity, we’re giving it away. We’re the thief. We step out of integrity of Self, into whatever we permit circumstances to dictate, giving away our true identity.
I used to give mine away frequently when driving my car. If someone would tailgate me, I would become a raging lunatic in my mind. Really angry, pissed off! I’ll get back at them! In other words, I would allow “that idiot behind me” to live rent-free in my mind, occupying all my thinking and resources. You gotta wonder…who was really acting the idiot?
There’s significant marketing efforts, backed up by social pressure to “fit in.” Emerson once said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
I suggest we give our Spiritual Identity away when were locked into “family systems” that say it’s more important to abide by the family dynamics – keep family peace – to abide by the family rules – often unspoken – than it is to express our own individuality. These family systems can occur anywhere groups occur. Could be in our immediate family, but also at work, church, social gathering, an organization. There’s a “here’s how we do it around here” kind of mentality to which we are expected to ascribe. Don’t ascribe.
Lastly, I suggest the worst cases of Spiritual Identity theft occur in two types of relationships. Abusive relationships and a relationship with a practicing addict. These relationships suck every resource towards the perpetrator’s illness instead of our own needs and desires. If you’re in one of these relationships, you ought think about getting out.
How do we go about changing our patterns so that we’re not in the habit of giving away our Spiritual Identity? The first step is awareness. Where do I consistently give in, avoid trying, become passive, always compromise, put everyone else first, let someone else control me? Once I am aware of where I habitually give my True Self away, I can begin to change. I can take a small step toward standing firm in my own belief system.
It took me a long time, but now days, when I am tailgated, I’ll pull over to allow the tailgater to pass me, while saying a brief prayer, hoping that he/she gets to their destination safely. Try it. It requires far less energy than becoming and staying angry.
We each have the power to take control of our lives. Hold a vision of yourself standing firm in your truth. Create a picture of yourself that is so strong, there is no room in your mind for anything else. Then take steps, respectful of others, but not giving in to others, to regain your control.