Mindfulness and Identity

Are thoughts part of identity?

I want to start off with that question and move on quickly to introduce mindfulness. One of the things that mindfulness therapy emphasizes is that thoughts are not real. We make thoughts real when we give them power. For example, sometimes I look at a busy street and think about how easy it would be to walk into it and get run over. Then, I think, “What the hell?! No! That would be stupid.” I could give that thought power or I could ignore it or argue with it.

Now, back to the question I brought up in the beginning. I think thoughts are part of our identity. But are they all of our identity? Yes.? Notice how I put both a period and a question mark. That is because I think they are, but my mind is skating through my brain to see if there is a single part of identity that is not thought. As of right now, I cannot think of anything. I say that identity and thoughts are interrelated because someone says, “You are a jerk.” You think about how to respond. When you respond, you begin developing an identity.

So, if we look at identity through the lens of mindfulness, we are the ones who give it power. We are the crafters of it. We think we are, therefore we are. WAIT! Is that what that guy means when he says, “I think, therefore I am?” I always thought that it meant that I exist because I think. Maybe it still means that. Maybe it means both. But, now I am digressing.

Therefore, if we decide we are not, then we are not. But, here is where social situations come in. If we decide we are not what we were (i.e. I was a sarcastic, jerk, but now, I want to be kind and compassionate), then we are not, but others will still treat us as if we are what we were. God, that is a confusing sentence.


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