The Indigenous “I”
Where Do “I” Originate?
By Lynn Seiser
The word indigenous means to originate from. Usually we look outside ourselves. We think of indigenous in terms of where do “I” come from in a geographical and genetic sense. If we keep expanding that outward search we can come to a very profound place. Our genetics come from our ancestral family that came from a specific place geographically. That village or city is part of a larger state or country. That state or country is part of a larger continent and world. That world is part of a larger planet or solar system. That solar system is part of a larger galaxy and universe. Gaining a larger universal sense of the self connects us with all that is. Many find this connectedness very spiritual and beyond words.
Where does this indigenous “I” originate? What is this indigenous “I” that I feel so strongly attached to? Who is this indigenous “I”? What is the innate natural source of this indigenous “I”? What are the characteristics of this indigenous “I”?
We can also try to figure out who we are and where we originate from by going
inward into our psychology or learned-ego identity. Trying to figure out who you
are can be a difficult journey.
As a child, whenever I did what my parents wanted me to, they would say, “That’s my child.” I knew I was their child so it helped define who I was. When I didn’t do what they wanted me to they would ask me who I thought I was (so soon they forgot I was their child) or what had gotten into me. This was confusing information.
I ask my clients if they had been named a different name, raised a different way in a different place and culture, would they think they were a different person. All their experiences of self would be different, so of course they would think they were a different person. In many ways our internal psychological sense of self originated in the reflection we received from external sources. Is this sense of self really about us, or is it more about the people, the time, and the culture in which we were raised?
So why identify with something that really has very little to do with us? Why take it personally or seriously? Actually, if you don’t strongly identify with it, it is much easier to change it. It may be worthwhile to ask not just who you are, but also who you want to be.
The learned-ego identity is much more illusive. Growing up makes it tough to figure out who you are. As soon as you figure out who you are, you grow up and out of it. Who you are changes with time. Who you are changes with roles. If you ask your body, it only wants to avoid pain and find pleasure. It’s nice to know that while you have a body, you are not your body and don’t have to give into every feeling. If you have a feeling and don’t attach to it, it passes.
Most of your body feelings come from the way you think about things. Change how you think and you change how you feel. Change how you feel and you change how you behave. While you have a mind that thinks, you are not your mind. If you do not attach to your thoughts, they pass too. It’s nice to know that not every thought or feeling is necessarily true, and we don’t have to give into or act upon every one of them.
As a psychotherapist I am constantly amazed that each of us has a sense of self beyond our minds, feelings, and behaviors. We have a sense of self beyond the geographical genetics from which we come. I can ask people if they know the truth about a situation. Beyond the chatter and confused messages, they know. I ask if they know what they really need to do, and they do.
We all know the right things to do. Acting from this deeper, truer sense of self can be very difficult because we have to face the familiar fears and failures we have always known in order to accept the love and abundance we always desire.
Where does this deeper truer sense of self come from? I really don’t know. We
may never know from where the indigenous “I” originates. It may be beyond the
universe and the psychology. We may not originate from, but simply always be. We
may never find words to describe or explain our innate nature, our true
indigenous “I”. The experience is beyond words. But, we all know it.
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey.
Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., is an internationally respected psychotherapist and author with offices in Long Beach and Tustin.
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