The Drawbacks to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

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Olaz
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The Drawbacks to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby Olaz » Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:01 pm

Hm, I'm having trouble turning these ideas into words, but here goes.

Today I came to the seemingly obvious realization that people will often begin to identify with their partners, polyamours, close friends, or other meaningful connections in their lives, meaning that when they are in a relationship, they are less individuals, and more a "couple" of sorts. It's as if the connection, whichever type it might be, becomes a part of their overall life palette, perhaps matching the ideas in their books, the socioeconomic patina of the apartment in which they live, the people with which they associate daily, the expectation of the people they'd like to be, and other life choices.

So, one person might begin to fall into the Life Palette Trap, say, spending time with their "hippie partner", to match with their tiny house, green books, and writer career; or their "corporate polyamour" with their copy of Never Eat Alone, high salary job, company ambitions, etc. I'm starting to think that this type of thinking can be incredibly damaging, particularly because if the couple splits ways, part of the participants' identity is now gone. Poof.

There are some examples that are more subtle and sinister. The Family identity Trap, for instance. When I've introduced myself to a partner's parents, I notice that there's an inclination for me to start to identify with the partner's family. If I then choose to split ways with this partner for whatever reason, then I am not only potentially severing the shared identity I may have formed with the partner, but with the now shared identity and expectation of their parents. This barrier can often prevent connections from changing for longer than healthful.

This shared identity trap can be stretched to the Friend Identity Trap as well, where one begins to identify with the partner's friends, close friends, acquaintances, etc. For instance, if one does enjoy spending time alone with their partners, and other people--or even the two lovers themselves--judges their partners or polyamours to not fit with the rest of their identity, it can hinder connection with people that may ultimately have formed. Maybe the person with the insurance job, BMW, and expensive apartment can provide tremendous value, even if they do not match or are necessarily liked by the simple living dogma of your barefoot, nature-loving friends; and vice versa.

Another trap I've identified thus far is the Number's Identity Trap. This is where the person begins to identify with the number of close people in their life. For instance, when the person thinks of themselves as "I am X, and I have X partners, X polyamours, and X close friends", there can be serious emotional consequences when, as perhaps chance or fate or whatever would have it, the person says "I am X, and I now have 0 partners, 0 polyamours, and 0 close friends." Perhaps the lesson with this one is that the number of people in our lives does not be tied to our self-worth; rather it is simply a logistical reminder when figuring out how to scheduling dates into 7 days per week.

Semi-related, I imagine there's also a Body Identity Trap, where one begins to identify with their body and the market-value it provides to provide the initial spike to attract close people to one's life, or begin to identify with the body's of the close people in their life. I'm still convinced our body's are not our possessions, but simply borrowed vehicles for conscious thought; an attachment to its current healthful iteration would likely lead to suffering as the body inevitably ages.

----------------------------

Hm, perhaps the overall message in this post would be to identify with, say, our own values, beliefs, goals, etc., rather than to identify with the close people in our lives; the former arguably being far more permanent and in our control, and the latter being arguably far less in our control and more fluid.

Thoughts?
Last edited by Olaz on Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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BRUTE
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Re: The Drawback to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby BRUTE » Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:52 pm

brute thinks it's impossible not to identify with some set of values - brute personally strongly identifies with Nihilism and irony.

all of Olaz' points are valid. on the other hand, since it is impossible to have no identity at all, Olaz will have to pick one set of identities. it might be "that guy who doesn't identify with anything".

then again, sometimes it's worth identifying with some things or people, even though it increases the risk of loss.

in essence, Olaz has discovered the paradox of freedom: only lack of concern is true freedom, but lack of concern for anything itself is very limiting, because it makes Olaz unfree to choose anything, as he would then be unfree from it.

over time, Olaz will likely discover that he values certain relationships or identities, even though they may be risky. these he will learn to balance to form a set of identities that he enjoys, and the risk of which he perceives as not too bad. this set will be unique to Olaz, and it will get clearer over time. he will drop some identities as fads, too risky, or disappointing. he will add other things he used to despise or roll his eyes at.

at least this has been happening to brute, who is terribly anti-commitment.

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Re: The Drawback to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby GandK » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:00 pm

Observations:

1. 100% of this is taking place within you. It is not happening to you, it is happening because of you.
2. Internal labeling like this is voluntary.
3. Because of 1-2, it is under your control.
4. Opt out.

I don't mean to be sharp, but labels are only a good thing if they help you in some way. Many do. But if these are holding you back, either find another set of labels or find a way around their use, like refusing to base something as fundamental as your identity on factors which are external to your physical self and therefore outside your control and having little to do with you.

And for heaven's sake don't ever get so far up some other person's butt that you start looking (or worse, behaving) less like a couple and more like the human centipede. That's not cute. It's sick.

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Re: The Drawback to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby IlliniDave » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:07 pm

Humans are pretty strongly wired to identify with people we are emotionally attached to. While there is a "danger" to it as not all emotional attachments are permanent, many if not most people will point to their emotional bonds and identification with other people as the most fulfilling aspect of their lives (being part of a family, a circle of friends, or some other community).
Last edited by IlliniDave on Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Olaz
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Re: The Drawback to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby Olaz » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:08 pm

@ GandK, I agree, labels are only good if they help, and that is the point of the post -- to continue transitioning from identifying with external factors such as close people in my life (I've already taken care of body and material stuff, for instance), and focusing more attention to internal factors such as values or labeling systems.

For the point on the human centipede, do you mean literally? Because...

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GandK
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Re: The Drawback to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby GandK » Mon Aug 08, 2016 6:40 pm

Olaz wrote:For the point on the human centipede, do you mean literally? Because...

:lol: I meant socially.

I stand by my earlier point, though. It's all internal dialogue. Your relationships are of course important, and @iDave is right that relationships are your greatest source of happiness. But relationships, too, largely consist of internal dialogue (your thoughts about people and events, rather than people and events themselves), and identity is just your internal dialogue about yourself. If you don't like your internal dialogue, change it.

If you are having trouble doing that (e.g. negative self talk), that's another story/thread.

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Re: The Drawbacks to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby Dragline » Mon Aug 08, 2016 7:55 pm

This is why I tell my children they would probably be better off not deciding who to settle down with until they are close to 30 -- young people need time to discover/establish their own selves apart from identifying with external factors/tribes/consumptive behaviors of familiars/etc.

But you know, there IS a weird movie about a psychopath that turns people into a human centipede . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX8fKLjC__c

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GandK
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Re: The Drawbacks to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby GandK » Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:13 pm

Dragline wrote:But you know, there IS a weird movie about a psychopath that turns people into a human centipede . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX8fKLjC__c

Yes. That. It's sick. That is what I meant. Don't ever get so attached to someone (or multiple someones in your case, @Zalo) that you become the social version of that. We've all known that couple.

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Re: The Drawbacks to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby Scott 2 » Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:35 pm

From what I can tell, that identification is the most fulfilling part of life. Even things we do as an individual, we ascribe to our belonging in a tribe.

As I get older, I'm able to see this even in my "loner" behaviors. I still identify with and find community from others who share the ideals.

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Re: The Drawbacks to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby Ego » Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:45 pm

It is important to have a time between childhood and full-blown adulthood. This adolescence is when we figure out how to be independent. The ability to be independent is critical so that we can move to the next stage, which is really the best part of being human. Interdependence.

It is great to stand on your own two feet and carve out your own identity, but realize that that identity is just the foundation for something much grander. Look to any great achievement and notice the many people who cooperated to make it happen. That cooperation is not at odds with each individual's independence. Cooperation is the way that capable, independent individuals achieve accomplishments that no single individual could accomplish alone.

Those accomplishments represent the top 3/5 of Maslow's hierarchy.

Image

It is no great surprise that our levels of anxiety, depression and mood disorders are skyrocketing as we become a culture of increasingly individualistic adults. Rugged individualism is important - for an adolescent. Shunning the labels that require "another" can be useful, for a time.

At some point Maslow will entice you up the pyramid.

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Re: The Drawback to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby IlliniDave » Tue Aug 09, 2016 4:36 am

GandK wrote:
Olaz wrote:
I stand by my earlier point, though. It's all internal dialogue. Your relationships are of course important, and @iDave is right that relationships are your greatest source of happiness. But relationships, too, largely consist of internal dialogue (your thoughts about people and events, rather than people and events themselves), and identity is just your internal dialogue about yourself. If you don't like your internal dialogue, change it.



That's maybe my problem, haha! I deliberately work to separate myself from the internal dialogue of my brain rather than sculpt/harness it. When it works it is quite peaceful, but I wind up in an overall mode of solitude. Still, it is not a state of isolation, more like, to borrow the kernel thought behind a pair of lines in an obscure Greg Brown song, one where "I live alone and love everyone/And I feel pretty good, is that so wrong?"

The idea, of course, is one from Zen practice, where the goal is to exist fully in the present. But it doesn't work too well in the world of midlife mating rituals. :) The charitable ones consider you too aloof. Most are less charitable. The application to relationships as I see it is that I believe a good foundation for positive relationships is accepting yourself and being fundamentally happy (absent the relationship). I suppose that is having an identity of sorts.

As an aside, I almost included Greg Brown song I quoted in the "ERE Songs" thread. But I didn't think the applicability was general enough. The song does, in a poetic sense, reflect the place I had to get to internally before I could re-route my life. At the risk of derailing things too much, I'll link it for the morbidly curious.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dk2jFCUfQ4


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Re: The Drawbacks to Identifying with the Close People in Our Lives? (Similar to identifying with a job title?)

Postby 7Wannabe5 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:01 pm

Olaz said: Hm, perhaps the overall message in this post would be to identify with, say, our own values, beliefs, goals, etc., rather than to identify with the close people in our lives; the former arguably being far more permanent and in our control, and the latter being arguably far less in our control and more fluid.


Well, first I would note that there is a difference between identifying with others vs. seeking validation from others. Identifying with others is one of the basic first steps in learning and personal growth. Seeking validation from others will tend towards maintenance of some flavor of rigid stupidity. In a way, the process of living life fully is the process of expanding your own identity, not so much an attempt to manifest something that hardened into place at some dubious point labeled "maturity."

For instance, nobody would have ever voted me Most Likely to Enter Into an Islamic Marriage Contract when I graduated from high school, but there was a period during the early part of that relationship when I could almost feel old crusty layers falling off my brain, and new connections being rapidly made, like my head was full of manic operators at an old-school telephone switchboard. Meanwhile, my sister in an attempt to bring me back to "sanity" is saying things to me like "What are you doing? This is not you! Kurt Vonnegut is your natural dominant! " -lol- as if the identity she observed me construct in accordance with my preferred reading materials when I was 15 was the one to which I had sworn allegiance for life. The reason why this was funny is because it is true on some level, but also not.

I mostly agree with what Ego said in reference to the Pyramid, but it's more complex than that model. You can get to a place in life where when you say to yourself "Nobody loves me.", it can strike you as both untrue and somewhat irrelevant. One thing that is definitely true is that you don't have to feel secure that any particular person or group of people are loving on you in order to self-actualize. Self-actualization is the highest manifestation of self-love, and it won't occur when you are sunk in a condition of dependency or ego-need for validation-from-other. OTOH, you can't move freely and successfully from independence to interdependence without the ability to allow yourself to be vulnerable or open to input from others. So, for instance, the George Clooney character in the clip posted above is manifesting an arrogant dysfunction which is inclusive of a core assumption that the person who sits in the Center of the Universe Chair is necessarily responsible for others with whom he is in relationship. IOW, the shark-like or monk-like "rugged" individualist is semi-conscious of the fact that taking on responsibility out of proportion to ability to exert authority will be a blackhole suck of life-energy and, therefore, is wise enough to stop lobbing balls over the side of a cliff, but never takes his game beyond the level of playing against the brick wall that ends at the boundaries of self-discipline.


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