Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Your True Self: Who Are You?

Yesterday, I was speaking to an atheist and I asked her, "Respectfully, why do you focus and write so much about something you don't even believe in?" And she gave me an answer I didn't expect. She wasn't angry, she wasn't trying to question her 2% of "what if there's a god" -- she was simply fed up with religious people hurting anyone who fails to fall in line with their exact beliefs. The mere fact that most religious folks will say "my" religion and "my" god as well as "believe what I believe or you're going to hell" is all associated with their ego. The ego thrives on being superior above all those who don't think, act or believe as they do. The ego needs to be "right" and the ego needs to tell their "truth" -- even if there are no factual bases on their "truth". It's just a faith built system that people feel comfortable believing in. Even though I believe with all my heart and soul that God is real and that I do believe in the trinity-based faiths -- I will not say "I'm right" -- nor will I tell someone that their fate is a fiery lake in hell. The best way you can pull someone toward your belief is simply by your behavior. Your actions, your words, your example -- they will all show someone that you walk the walk, because let's face it: talk is cheap.

But, talk is also apart of our behavior. The tongue is very powerful. What we say can either make us or break us. Even those who are trying to be nice while having such a rigid belief may say, "Oh, I'll pray for you honey." It almost comes off as sarcastic, as if they had an "in" with the big guy upstairs. God's followers are one of the biggest reasons why many people tend to stay away from religion. Their identity is tied into the whole concept that they are God's child and that they need to convert people over to their religion to get brownie points. Think about it: if I convert you today over to Christianity -- I will honestly say I would be thrilled. But not because I'm gonna get some award by God, but because Christianity isn't as scary as most of His followers make it out to be. Most Christians will want to convert you in order to get in good with God. He said, "Spread my message across the world," and what better means to do it than by the greatest tool of all: the internet? Hey, you don't even have to travel by donkey across the desert. 

What is your identity if it's tied up in God? Who are you? In my belief, God lives within us. God occupies 90% of "my" brain. (See how I didn't say your brain.) But that's not an ego thing, that's just my belief. If I am conscious enough, I can catch the sin or "dysfunction" of my brain which operates all of my actions. So for me, that would be the conscious of "GOD" -- because He who lives in me is greater than he who lives in the world. I'm sure you have heard of that scripture before and it makes total sense. If we tap into God -- in our minds -- if we can turn and look at our chatty brain that never shuts up -- then we have the conscious of God. So it's like we have two entities within us: our mind and our Being which is "God". That's why they call it the battlefield of the mind. It's a constant struggle and conflict between good and bad. Remember those cartoons that had a devil on the left shoulder and the angel on the right shoulder? I believe it's kinda like that. 

Have you ever heard that term, "We are not of this world"? It's basically saying that this world we live in -- this life we live -- it's all so temporary before we enter and pass over into the realm of unconditional love and light, which is also referred to as "heaven". Here's what I mean: I am not of this world. Materialistic things do not matter to me. I always tell my wife, "I'd rather live in a shack with someone I love rather than in a huge mansion with someone I can't stand." Life is too short to live for materialistic things. They have no substance to them. For instance -- I suffer from anxiety and depression. If you were to give me 10 million dollars, I would still have anxiety and depression. No amount of money in the world will give me constant joy as to being in line with God. Granted, I would definitely have an adrenaline type of short-term happiness and yes, that 10 million would help -- but you'll find me still suffering, possibly even forgetting about God at some point due to the major distractions. I don't want to have my identity tied up with something that can be taken away so quickly. 

And that happens. 

If your identity is all about having a nice house, luxury cars and brand name clothes -- you will always have to live up to everything you have reached for. But who are you once those things are taken away from you? I often wonder what I'm truly attached to. I thought about this yesterday and I came to the realization that my attachment is mostly due to "my" family, "my" dog, "my" writing -- and sadly, "my" followers. I feel very blessed to have many followers, but who am I if I only had 1 follower? Who would I be writing for? Who am I? Just a person who types a buncha' words for nobody to read. I would feel close to worthless, or perhaps quit writing since it seems to not be helping anyone. Or is it about my own ego? If we attach ourselves to what we do for a living, then what happens once we lose our jobs? We become jobless or unemployed, to which some people equate to "worthlessness" -- or not contributing to society whatsoever. We need to be doing something for the world, whether or not we are reaping the benefits. But what if we are and we still don't maintain that ultimate "job status"? Are we still worthless? Don't we mean more than our jobs, our careers, our existence here on earth? Don't we all have a purpose? 

The other day I was talking to a good friend of mine. She's absolutely stunningly beautiful. (Wow, lots of adjectives!) She wears brand name clothes, always keeping up with the trends and also obsessed with working out. She's a great person and loves her family and friends. She always tries to help people, but doesn't realize that some things are just not important to some people as they are to her. For instance, I know I need to shed some pounds, but I've never really obsessed over it. I am more focused about keeping up with my overall health -- like my numbers, cholesterol, blood pressure and so on. Being thin isn't a priority to me -- never was. It's not that I don't care about myself -- it's more about being happy and not tying my entire identity with a "perfect body" or a "perfect face". If I get a wrinkle or two (or three) -- I'm leaving those wisdom lines to flourish. If I gain weight, I'll get my yoga pants out. (Ha) -- That's what they're for, right? She suggested that I should work out with her (as a way to get my ass to the gym.) I mean, I could, maybe I should, but right now it's just not a priority. But my question is, if a person who ties their whole identity with their outer appearance, (good looks, nice body, no wrinkles) and one day, they start to see their body and face change due to degenerative aging -- then who are they? And what are they going to attach their identity to then? The ego needs a place to land. They will then become a "victim" of age and lacking outer appearance. Some will hide and become worthless in their mind because that's who they were.

Going back to my attachments -- they're not better than anyone else's. For instance, when I say, "my" wife, "my" family and "my" dog --- what happens if one day I lose them all? They are my sense of self. They are the reason why I live. Maybe loving people too much is a bad thing? My identity is taking care of my family, like cooking for them, taking them to the doctors or just loving them -- period. What would life be like for me if I lost them all tomorrow? Have you ever heard someone say, "They took apart of me with them when they left," -- whether it be through death or by a breakup? When somebody says something like that, it means that they tied their entire identity with the person(s) they loved. I'm not saying to be some distant lover or family member -- but who are you when all is gone? Will you survive without your partner or family members? And what about when a person suddenly dies (usually by heart attack) soon after their spouse dies? Do you know that there is actually a term for that called, "The Broken Heart Syndrome"? Most survive it, experiencing chest pains and things that mimic a heart attack, but some actually do die from losing a loved one. 

I wrote about my experience with The Broken Heart Syndrome in this article.

I experienced this three years ago when my dad passed away. It happened about six months into my grieving period (which is normal) -- and I started getting horrible chest pains, to where my heart definitely responded to what I was experiencing. I'll never forget one morning being in my kitchen and grabbing a glass of water. I sat on the stool next to the counter trying to just wake up. I started getting these these horrific chest pains that just blew me right off my stool. I was on the floor holding my chest with these jabbing pains that wouldn't let up. When the ambulance came, they gave me a little beta tablet of nitrate to place under my tongue in order to see if I was having a real heart attack. They took my vitals and everything was just wrong. The EMT guy looked at me and asked, "Is the pain going away?" And I was relieved that it was. "Yeah, it's gone." But not relieved when he yelled into his radio, "Not good! She responded to the nitrate! It's her heart!" I had to stay in the hospital for a few days. The EMT guy who helped me was the same guy who had to bring my father out of his house for the very last time.

The breakdown of The Broken Heart Syndrome:

Breakdown of a Broken Heart Broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can strike even if you’re healthy. (Tako tsubo, by the way, are octopus traps that resemble the pot-like shape of the stricken heart.) Women are more likely than men to experience the sudden, intense chest pain — the reaction to a surge of stress hormones — that can be caused by an emotionally stressful event. It could be the death of a loved one or even a divorce, breakup or physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection. It could even happen after a good shock (like winning the lottery.) Broken heart syndrome may be misdiagnosed as a heart attack because the symptoms and test results are similar. In fact, tests show dramatic changes in rhythm and blood substances that are typical of a heart attack. But unlike a heart attack, there’s no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome. In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. Researchers are just starting to learn the causes, and how to diagnose and treat it. The bad news: Broken heart syndrome can lead to severe, short-term heart muscle failure. The good news: Broken heart syndrome is usually treatable. Most people who experience it make a full recovery within weeks, and they’re at low risk for it happening again (although in rare cases in can be fatal).
I never thought that there was such a thing out there until that EMT guy explained it to me. I then researched it and was shocked to find out that it was real. So in my case, losing my father was a huge deal, not only because I loved him, but I lost a sense of my "self" in him. I lost my safety, my "tough guy" -- my protector and my mom's "Pit Bull". I lost all of our inside jokes and the way we interacted. I lost a sense of my own personality when I lost him. And it's strange, because sometimes my sister will look at me and say, "Oh my God, I just saw Dad in your eyes!" Some of the things I say or do mimic his behavior. And that's okay. But trying to untie the linked identity to people, places or things can be hard to do for anyone.

So think about the things that you associate your identity with like, "I'm a police officer," or "I'm a doctor" -- what if you lost those identities?

It's like boiling salt water and letting it evaporate.

Who are you? 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!