Disidentification - Teal Swan Articles - Teal Swan Jump to content


You cannot have a sense of self without also simultaneously having a sense of other. Identity served universal expansion because source (otherwise known as united consciousness) could not become conscious of itself from a platform of non-identity. There was no contrast inherent in that. Oneness cannot comprehend oneness except from a vantage point of separation. Just like a fish cannot conceive of water until it has experienced air. And so, identity was conceived. A more practical way of explaining this as it relates to you is that the separate self, or ego is the necessary condition for you to experience oneness or enlightenment. Whenever we associate something with our self, we identify with it. It becomes part of us. We make it the same as us. This is what attachment really is. It is identification. And if that thing we identify with is ever threatened, we experience it as a threat to our own survival (a personal attack). One could argue that identification is a good thing when we identify with things that cause us to feel good. But the thing is, the minute we identify with something that causes us to feel good, it contains within it the seeds of it’s own opposite. Worthiness carries the seeds of unworthiness; excitement carries the seeds of disappointment. Far more troubling however, is that we often identify with things that cause us to feel bad and as such, we must keep those things alive in order to keep our own sense of self alive. A great many spiritual teachers will emphasize the importance of dis-identifying from things outside you, most especially other people. But it is my opinion that when it comes to identification, it is not other things external to us that cause us the most amount of suffering. It is identification with things we perceive to be internal to us. We are the most identified with the three primary aspects of ourselves; our body, our mind and our emotions. Each of these three aspects is inherently a different expression of source consciousness. We mistake these expressions to be the totality of who we are. A bit like a painter who has become so identified with his painting that he has forgotten that who he ultimately is, is more than his painting. We think we ARE our emotions, we ARE our body and we ARE our thoughts. And as such, we are so attached to them that they affect us immensely. They cause us to suffer. Those of us, who have painful emotions, painful thoughts or a painful body, suffer to the degree that life is a torment.
This is the reason that dis-identification is one of the highest forms of spiritual practice you can take on. In truth, you could dis-identify with just about anything. To dis-identify with something, you must identify it as different to yourself. You must see it as “other” than you. For example, if you would like to dis-identify from your own pain, all you must do is to conceptualize of your pain as a separate entity and when you experience pain, observe the pain as if you were watching this separate entity reacting. In this way, you do not take the pain personally. You have disowned it. But the most important thing you can do if you have taken on the practice of dis-identification is to dis-identify from your body, your thoughts and your emotions. What you will find is that any external identifications with other people, places and things, will fall away when you do this, because all these external identifications pass through the filter of the identification you have with your body, thoughts and emotions. The hardest part of spiritual practice is the complimentary contradictions inherent in a multidimensional universe. Ultimately, the highest truth is that all is one. The painter is one with the painting. And so, any form of dis-identification is to enhance ‘self’ and ‘otherness’ in this universe. Nothing is other than you, not your mind, not your body, not your emotions, not other people, not your kitchen table, not your dog, not the clouds nor the cement on the sidewalk. But to even see, much less experience this truth, we must first dis-identify with the very things that are keeping us locked in our own intense sense of identity. The false self is a composite of things you are identified with. Like onion layers, when we strip each thing we are identified with away to expose the truth of who and what we really are… the true self is revealed. We do not do this “separating from” process with an attitude of resistance. Instead we allow the aspects of us we are wanting to dis-identify from to fall away like rose petals exposed to the sun as a result of exposing them to our conscious awareness. This is the key. To try to push away the things you are identified with, only causes you to become more identified. It only causes you to feel rejected by yourself. You will essentially cause an intense survival reaction within yourself in response to your own self-rejection. You cannot try to take something away from yourself without hurting yourself. As it applies to body, thoughts and emotions, you cannot try hard to disconnect from those aspects of yourself without those things being perceived internally by you as self-abandonment. The way to allow these aspects to fall away is to recognize them first and foremost. I want you to take out a sheet of paper and jot down all the things you suspect you might be identified with. Yes, you can be sure that there are many more than what you will come up with. But this is a consciousness exercise. A good way to find things you’re identified with is to look at everything you call “mine” for example, the minute you say my friends, you are identified and thus attached to them. Also, everything you would put after “I am (x).” For example, the minute you say I am (sexy), you are identified with being sexy. Try to identify thoughts and beliefs you are identified with. For example, “money doesn’t grow on trees” might be a thought you are identified with. Try to recognize emotions you are identified with. The ones you are the most identified with are the ones that are chronic or come up most often. For example, disappointment might be one of them. Also, try to recognize the aspects of your body that you are identified with. For example, if you see yourself as fat, you are physically identified with being fat.
Anything you identify with will cause a strong reaction in you. The ego has owned it as part of the composite that makes up what it is. Whenever those things are threatened, the ego will go into a state of reactivity and defense. The ego has motive to maintain these aspects of our life, even if they cause us pain. It sees the loss of these things as annihilation. We can even become identified with pain and when this is the case, the ego has motive to keep us in pain. But it is the identification with pain that often leads to a crisis point, by which the pain becomes so acute that one eventually commits emotional suicide by shedding their identifications and thus identity all at once. This is what occurs during a spontaneous awakening. All this being said, the real practice is to recognize the things we are identified with as they arise. This is easiest to do with emotions. You can use strong emotions as an alarm bell, awakening you to the fact that you are identified with something and thus need to recognize something. It is a call to become intensely present and aware with your full attention on what is really occurring within you. By recognizing it, you are observing it, meaning you are in the perspective of the higher self-being present with your temporal self rather than being lost in the perspective of the temporal self. When a strong emotion arises, face it within yourself instead of reacting to it or reacting in order to try to get away from it. When you feel it, use the feeling as a reminder that this feeling is the emotional body becoming activated or charged like an electric fence (as in not me). It is not the emotion itself that is causing the suffering you feel, it is the fact that you identify with it that is causing you the pain you feel. This is all it takes to dis-identify with something.
Don’t try to stop caring about how you feel and don’t try to change how you feel. Just recognize it and let it be there. You will often experience insight coming as a result of observing the emotion. You may discover what triggered it, what meaning you assigned to the trigger and also insight about the situation that causes it to dissipate on it’s own. When it comes to negative emotions, we can see how we identify with them even in how we speak. We say, I am angry or I am sad as if those emotions are quite literally what we are. Don’t worry about this process repressing your emotions. Dis-identification is not repression or suppression. Instead it introduces choice into your emotional expression. It is helpful to think that in the moment you are becoming totally aware of your negative emotions, recognizing them and observing them without resistance to them, you are introducing the light of consciousness to them and thus, they are consumed by the light of consciousness like a filmstrip when it is burnt. When it comes to thoughts, it works the same way. By recognizing a thought and observing it and letting it be there, you do not add fuel to it. It stops attracting other like thoughts and so you have stopped the momentum of thought. This stops the negative spiral. When it comes to the body, if you think you are your body, and the body changes, you lose your identity. You can practice observing the body as if it is an experience you are currently having rather than who you are. This is the whole ‘spiritual being having a human experience’ concept. When you recognize your body, see it, feel it and consciously experience it, you are in that moment not your body. You are dis-identified with it.
You are not the ego. You are not the separate self. The minute you dis-identify with it by becoming aware of the ego or the separate self, you are in that moment, not it. You are acutely aware of who and what you are not and so the greatest obstacle between you and the true self or united consciousness is dissolved. All that remains is what you are, a state that transcends all opposites… A state of peace and unwavering grace.


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