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  • Writer's pictureAlex Planidin

The paradox of identity

You are not your thoughts AND you become what you think about

For a long time, I struggled to reconcile these two statements.

The truth that “you are not your thoughts” became clear to me at quite a young age through spiritual practice. I experienced a separation between the thoughts going on and the observer of them, a space that was aware of them. Whatever I now knew myself to be, it was no longer confined to what was going on in my thinking.

Then I discovered personal development through books and courses on how to be successful in life, business, career, health and relationships. And I remember Brian Tracy saying “You become what you think about most of the time”

And I couldn’t accept it. If I've realised that I’m not my thoughts, I reasoned, how can I become them?

I can’t remember when exactly it clicked for me that these statements are both true at the same time, but it’s related to possibly the oldest question of mankind: Who am I?

Having an experience of myself as both a thought-created “individual” and an extension of the life force that creates the entire universe was my starting point. Some teachings refer to this as our "two natures".

If I accept that this energy is what creates everything, I must also accept that I'm a part of it. And therefore this is who I am. Even before any thought about "Alex" the individual appears, I am this animating force. I am therefore not only my thoughts.

And yet, as this individual human being, the thoughts I choose to believe — or subconsciously take to be true — create my personality and my preferences. I'm also made up of family patterns handed down through the generations and a result of conditioning by cultural norms over centuries. All of this makes up the "me" I commonly refer to.

As an extension of this universal energy, I exist before thought. And what I create is a product of thought, and created by thought.

Steve Hardison has a great phrase for this:

"If you want peace, drop the story.

If you want to produce, create a story."

My natural state is peace and I have the power of thought with which to create.

I am not only my thoughts, and my capacity for thought colours how I see the world and what I create in the world. Much of the time this is automatic, dictated by deep subconscious patterns.

But when I become aware of a thought, at least I'm free of the illusion that I need to believe that thought.

If a thought is not helpful, I’m free to choose not to believe it.

And then I’m free to use thought to create whatever I want.

This is how I’ve come to reconcile these two “truths”, and of course, this may change again at any time :)

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