It could be argued (and here it will be) that identity is at the heart of all psychological problems. It’s very human to want to be a part of a group or collective; it helps us to know what to do and how to behave (“On Wednesdays, we wear pink”). Quickly these roles and formulated behaviors can constrict our true nature and create compromise and discord within, producing anxiety and depression.
We also find identity through opposition: “I don’t like that group/system of belief”; in not belonging, we also obtain a sense of belonging through decidedly NOT belonging. If we allow ourselves to be sucked into this narrative even further, our sense of identity inflates to a sense of necessity and we assume a “leader of the pack” mentality. It’s easy to forget though how quickly even the most essential characters in our society disappear from our sight and memory.
We regularly feed our story with our social media presence: my name, my picture, my history - all of it is my story. When the character we’ve created is well-received, we gain a sense of belonging, and again, if not; we belong in opposition. Quickly these roles and formulated behaviors can constrict our true nature and create compromise and discord within producing, you guessed it: anxiety and depression.
Ironically, the only way to effectively identify something is to be outside of it. Take nature for instance; to really understand it, we created something that doesn’t behave in a natural way: mathematics. Where math is rigid, nature is constantly in flux, but it was math that allowed us to see this and then to develop physics, our methodology and formulas for describing physical objects and forces. Still, these formulas are based on averages and ceteris peribus conditions, so the dance continues…
Consider your thoughts and feelings a moment; if you can identify them, then (by the logic of the previous paragraph) they are not you because you must be outside that thought or feeling to really identify it. You may say “I am a hero”, or “I am a terrible person”, but who gave you those ideas about yourself? Where did these ideas about yourself come from? Start here: you are that which you cannot identify.
Let’s say, through the advancement of science, you are eventually enabled to identify everything in the Universe. But what are the limits to the Universe? None; the Universe is infinite, and so without definition. So how can you identify something that has no limits? You can’t, but this is actually very freeing when you really consider it because you are the Universe. You may say: “Okay, maybe I’m the Universe, but I’m so sad”. Try re framing that to “I am the Universe identifying as “sadness”” as if you were a character in a book or movie caught in your own media profile.
When you are everything, you are free to be anything, but when you lock yourself into only what you perceive as opportunities for acceptance, you inherently limit and restrict yourself on the terms of others. Embrace a limitless experience of life/death and try to see your thoughts and feelings as the Universe expressing itself in various ways at it has always done and will continue to do ad inifinitum. You may find that you’re a bit less “caught” and a bit more free to exit the thoughts and feelings that you previously wandered into and got lost in.