062: The Ever-Changing Identity

In Podcast, Self-Empowerment by Robert KandellLeave a Comment

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Welcome back to another episode of Tuff Love with Rob Kandell. Rob is feeling an interesting piece around identify recently that is showing up in a lot of different ways.

There are three videos from PBS Digital Studios, on Crash Philosophy, that are 9 minute clips that have inspired this episode.




From these videos, have come much of the thoughts for this show:

  • During Rob’s journey he had an experience of expressing his relationship with his Dad and how it’s changing as his Dad’s health morphs and changes. This is a fascinating piece of identity for Rob and it’s continually changing alongside his Dad’s health.
  • Nothing lasts forever. We think our identity, who we are and what makes us up really matters, but in the end it comes down to everything changing constantly.
  • Identify keeps evolving. Who you are today is very different from who you were as a kid. Rob wonders how he moved from that shy overweight kid to the man he is today. His identity has changed so deeply that now he feels comfortable in places he felt terrified when he was young.
  • Similarly, with relationship, he has gone from somebody who didn’t believe in the power of monogamous, deep intimate relationships to now not being able to imagine life any other way.
  • The definitions of identity: A relation that a thing bears only to itself. How we look at our self. It’s unique and relates only to our self.
  • Rob was thinking about how as a human being we often think the only thing that’s constant is our name. But he gone by many other names and variations on his name in his life. So even our names will change. You can legally change it.
  • Your social security number is something we think of as your unique identify in the United States. You get it when you’re born. But Rob has learned that they actually recycle social security numbers, 50 or 100 years after we die.
  • Our cell phone numbers make us unique in the modern age. Rob got his cell phone number in 1998 and 20 years later, it’s the same. But we know people can change their phone numbers so even that is not unique.
  • There are two types of properties you can assign to something to make up identities: essential properties that are core, and accidental properties, that can be removed. A dog without a tail is still a dog. A tree without leaves is still a tree.
  • But what about a tree being turned into paper? There are many steps in between and what point does it stop being a tree? At what point in your life do you morph from point A to point B?
  • The body theory says that our body is what keeps us whole and makes up our identity. But our body is constantly changing, our skin is shedding, our blood cells renewing and even our skeleton is changing.
  • The memory theory says it’s our memory of what makes us up that creates our identity. But you don’t remember when you were born, and it is still part of you. Plus, memories shift and fade, and they can be highly suggested. And what happens if you lose your memory?
  • David Hume, the philosopher, said that identity is actually millions of impressions folding into the impression that we’re not changing. It’s how we trick our mind into believing our identify is constant.
  • Walt Whitman said we contain multitudes. And we do! There are so many parts of ourselves. Who we are with different people—our partners, our children, our parents, our buddies—is very different, and rightfully so.
  • We’re victimized by our identity, who we think we are and who we think we should be. Our identity can be based by what we perceive to be external expectations and we can get stuck there.
  • Our identities can change and we can change the path we are on but we have to first believe that it is possible. We have choices but sometimes we have to give ourselves time to feel into them.
  • The ability to see that your identity is not stagnant, gives you the opportunity to explore and expand into different parts of yourself that want to be felt. Allow different parts of yourself into your life to inform you of what you want.
  • What parts of you are you truly afraid of? Are you suppressing or repressing them? It’s a crime when you don’t let it out at all.
  • We’re in total flux, constantly. But we are built upon our expectations and our agreements. Our agreements are a huge part of our identity. Even though we’re constantly changing, but there are still parts of us inside of ourselves that we want to stick to, like keeping our agreements.
  • If you feel imprisoned by your agreements then you can talk about them, find the different parts that you want to arise and know that you do have the ability to change and expand and grow.

Rob coaches Elvis, and his wife Jo, around the topic of identity.

  • Elvis had to write his name and title on a testimonial and felt like it was such a small part of his being that was being listed.
  • Our name and title identity is our social grease, our way of connecting to each other so we know who we’re dealing with. We react and make choices based on these silly words that we use to describe who we are.
  • It’s interesting to see what other people put about themselves.
  • What part of you is each title? Why do you write those things down?
  • Elvis wrote surf board instructor because it’s his bread and butter. It’s how they pay the rent and support themselves financially.
  • It’s seasonal, and officially is really only 3 months of the year, and so even though 75% of the time he isn’t a surf board instructor, he still writes that down as number 1.
  • Elvis is very aware of the changes in him that are coming up lately. He goes with it. This new practice of body work, for example.
  • Mr Motivator is a title his wife, Jo, gives him. Elvis says it’s a strong part of himself that is very dedicated and likes helping others.
  • The world needs more people paying attention to other people. We are living in isolation and the ability to give that is a powerful tool.
  • Jo used to be in a rock band called The Telescopes and that used to be a very strong identity for her. She moved to Ireland and assumed nobody knows her, but every now and then someone will mention it and she thinks, ‘Oh yeah!’
  • She’s proud of that part of her identity, because it was a great experience and it was done under difficult circumstances.
  • When Rob gets recognized for something he used to do with OneTaste, there is always an ego boost, pride and also some shame around how he handled things.
  • Jo feels she doesn’t reveal some parts of her identity to anybody except Elvis. Some of it is to do with sexuality.
  • It’s hard to bring those parts of ourselves out because we’re afraid about being accepted. A huge part of our identity is the need to be accepted. And if we’re not accepted, we hide that part.
  • The greatest thing your partner can do is allow all parts of our identity out and accept them.
  • It’s always a judgment call on how much of your identity you want to reveal.

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