You Are Not Your Personality
You are not your personality.
Your personality is constructed from all of your behaviors, thoughts, quirks, how you relate to others, how you see the world, how you see yourself, etc. The kind of person you are now and the way you think about and relate to the world is built primarily upon conclusions and assumptions about life and reality. More often than not, these ideas and beliefs are based on your previous experiences and the stories that arose in your mind after you had those experiences.
These concepts, ideas and beliefs about life, reality and yourself affect how you feel in any given moment, including right now. They influence how you perceive your present circumstances, and how you relate to the past and how you look forward to the future. But are they accurate?
You might be aware of some of your assumptions and beliefs, but most of them are not consciously known or understood. These present thoughts, memories of the past, and thoughts of the future tend to invade our mind throughout the day, obstructing our perception with a veil of mental chatter. This chatter is typically narrating the moment, judging the things you see and hear, agreeing or disagreeing with what others are saying and what is happening around you, debating what you want to eat for lunch, remembering what you have to do later, and the list goes on and on and on…
But is this voice really you?
The brain is an organic computer, and its sole purpose is to keep you safe and make sure that homeostasis is being upheld in the body. For this reason, it is constantly making connections between what it “knows” from the past (memories, stories, beliefs) and what it perceives right now in the present moment in order to make sense of the world and construct a safe and cohesive reality for you to inhabit. It tries to pool all of its learned information together to make things make sense so that you can survive.
If you’ve ever paid attention, you’ll be aware of the fact that the voice in your head becomes particularly noisy in uncomfortable situations, when your brain is on high alert (in survival mode).
If you are in a neutral situation there is no need for the brain to create lots of mind chatter, but if you are involved in a circumstance that is tense or scary for any reason, this triggers the brain into trying to identify the problem so that it can help the body escape. It will go through all the memories and mental stories that have been stored throughout your life and try to make sense of what’s happening. It will spit out thoughts that may or may not be relevant to the situation at hand, and this can cause you to overlay a mental story over the reality that you see in front of you.
If you pay attention throughout the day you will see that the brain has the power to create an entire reality inside of you that is separate from the objective neutral world outside. In the moment when another driver cuts you off or your teammates aren’t carrying their weight, the situation itself is not radiating bad vibes to you. The brain creates a story of why the person did that to you, why it’s not fair, and maybe even why you should teach them a lesson. But that is coming from an internal source, not the reality in front of you.
If you believe the mind stories, you allow yourself to get upset or angry about situations. But the catch is they are just stories. They are stories that your brain uses to make you feel like a “me”. Your brain creates a “me” that needs to be protected from an outside world, full of separate entities and circumstances that “you” must protect yourself from.
But here’s the deal… These thoughts and stories cannot define you or your current actions unless you give them that power. You hold the real power to take in all of your sensory information (including thoughts) and decide what YOU want to do, not just blindly follow how your brain wants to react.
One way to see this for yourself is to understand that even your thoughts and mental stories are perceptions that you are aware of. They are not you. Just like you perceive the car in front of you, or a bird chirping, your thoughts are seen/heard by you. The reason why we seem to get so caught up in them is because they are closer than any object that you will see “outside” of yourself.
We sense a lot through our head (sight, sound, smell, taste) and we hear thoughts that seem to be coming from behind our eyes somewhere. There is a lot of identity associated with the head because it seems to be the source of “me” the thoughts and identity stories that you listen to constantly. Just because a perception is close doesn’t mean it is “you”.
You are not your personality, you are aware of your personality. Put another way, you are not your personality, you are an idea in your own awareness.
You are separate from your perceptions. You are the one watching. You are the one that is aware of the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, the one that is aware of all the mental stories and thoughts that occur in the present moment. But you are not any of these things. You can’t be. You are not your personality, you are the one who is aware of your personality. You are you. You are the being who is presently aware of right here and now, perceptions, stories and all.
Who are you right now? Who are you if you don’t rely on your given name, belief system or current circumstance to describe yourself? Aren’t you just here right now? Is there a you without a story? Hasn’t this always been the real you, the one who is presently aware of reality?
You can’t be your personality because it changes over time, just like your body. If something changes over time, but you are here right now to recognize that you have changed, does that mean that your personality was ever you? Or did you just experience a personality and identified with that because it seemed real at the time?
The thoughts that might be bubbling up in response to everyday situations or even what you’re reading right now are nothing more than opinions and reactions (mind chatter) based on previous experiences, and right now you can decide if they are still true for you or not. You can decide if you want to keep reacting to the same thoughts and feelings over and over or take a fresh approach and understand that your thoughts and feelings are not you, they are presented to you in the moment, and you can decide what you want to do with all of this internal information.
A lot of people feel stuck in the same situations or mental patterns because they take the patterns to be themselves. But it’s not necessary.
Create a new story for yourself that helps you to see things more clearly. You don’t have to keep replaying the same thoughts, the same stories, the same likes and dislikes your whole life. Create your own story if you want. You are the perceiver of stories, of thoughts, of memories. You have the power to move on or stay stagnant. That is how powerful you are.
When you know what you aren’t, it is easier to see what you truly are. You are aware. That simplicity is powerful. You can decide what you want to be aware of, what you want to focus on, and how you want to see the world. Let go of things that no longer serve you, because you are the one who is aware.