"Reject all attempts to define you as a person, even if they are 'positive', even if they come from your own mind." Happy Cow
I was prompted to write this article after reading a couple of article and video posts by friends of mine which lambasted the way in which Muslims, and particularly Muslim women are viewed by 'mainstream' Western society.
To summarise, the posts were saying that mainstream Western society views Muslim women as oppressed and subservient within their community. The articles' posters were arguing that their personal experience showed that the Muslim women that they knew were, in fact, incredibly strong and dignified, a great credit to their communities, and in no way subservient.
In this article, I do not really want to discuss a particular religion, or gender roles within certain religions, but to discuss the issue of identity that was raised by these posts.
I would like to suggest that if anyone chooses to define themselves and attach to themselves a certain label, then they should not be surprised if certain others take that label and define it in a different way.
Never mind complaining about the awful way in which others are defining the label. What are you doing labelling yourself in the first place?
Here is a brief example:-
John Smith says, "I am a Christian."
Fred Bloggs says, "I am a free individual who at this point in my life happens to derive fulfilment from the practice of Christianity."
Davey-Boy 'Bigot' Jones comes along and says, "I think all Christians are big soft eejits."
Now, which one of those first two chaps do you think is the most likely to get uppity about Dave's comment? And which one do you think is most likely to quietly laugh to himself about the obvious naivity of such a sweeping statement?
This is not just limited to religious practice. It could be any kind of label. Race, gender, sexual preference, profession, fashion style, music preference, political affiliation ...... etc.
If you choose to define yourself using such arbitrary labels, then I would suggest you should not be surprised when other people also define you (perhaps in a way that you do not wish to be defined).
Let us examine the word 'define'. The word derives from the Latin verb 'definire' - to set boundaries to.
What I want to ask here is: why are you setting boundaries for yourselves? As far as I can see, if you choose to label yourself, then you are responsible for any offense felt when someone else suggests a different definition for that label.
"To define yourself or another individual always limits and diminishes. Even if the definition is a supposedly 'positive' one, it will always fall massively short of the magnificent wonder that is your undefined reality." Happy Cow
There is a phenomenon sometimes discussed in psychological circles and referred to as an 'identity crisis'. This is when an individual reaches a certain age and begins to question who they are and whether their life has any meaning.
May I suggest that if you find yourself in the middle of an identity crisis, then warm congratulations are in order. Hoorah for you! You have reached a point at which you can see that all labels and definitions are just stupid. You are not your job. You are not your religion. You are not your gender. You are not your age-group. You are not your family role. You are not your football team. You are not your sexual preference. You are not your income. You are not your race. You are not your star sign. You are not your level of education. You are not your hobby. You are so, so much more than all these things.
You are a totally unique, free, individual, irreplaceable. undefinable being. You cannot be categorised. You cannot be labelled. You cannot be pigeon-holed. You cannot be compared. Anyone who tries to do these things to you is doing you a huge disservice. Be very glad that you have reached a point when you are no longer doing it to yourself. If you embrace and accept this non-definition, you will also automatically stop labelling and defining your fellow unique humans.
Crisis? What crisis? If anything, everything before this point was the crisis. You have been kept in a tiny box by the labels and definitions of others, but more importantly, those you imposed unnecessarily on yourself. Now you are breaking out.
Now you are FREE from the massively restricting chains of definition. Watch how you can no longer be offended by anyone. Watch how life begins to flow gently and easily. Watch how you stop comparing yourself with others or your younger self, because you have nothing tangible with which to do a comparison. Watch how for the first time, you begin to totally and unconditionally accept both yourself and others.
Feel the wonderful expansion of unrestricted Being.
"I tried to fence off a bit of infinity for myself. It felt safe, manageable. Then I realised that fences in infinity serve only to fence you in." Swifty Flame-Anderson
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