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February 22, 2024

Identity and Consciousness, Part 2

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This is part 2 of a series. Read part 1 about To Me identity here.


2. BY ME CONSCIOUSNESS AND IDENTITY: “I play the role of _________.”


The process of becoming more conscious, of waking up, includes dis-identification. Disidentification begins by loosening our attachment to defining ourselves as our identities. We choose to see that we have identities but we are not our identities. In By Me we don’t yet know fully what we are beyond identity but we begin to loosen the grip of identification. One way to do this is to begin to say to yourself and others, “I play the role of ________ (an identity).” An actor knows that there is a difference between who they are and the roles they play.


Awareness begins when we experience that there is a difference between who we are and the roles we play.

With a bit of self awareness you can begin to see this. One of the identities I have is Father. It’s clear to me that when I’m with or thinking about my children I am at times being father. It’s also clear to me that when I’m on a CLG partner call with Diana and Erica I’m not playing father, I’m playing business partner. And when I’m making love to my wife Debbie I’m not business partner or father. It’s obvious, with a bit of reflection, that many of these identities are quite fluid, they come and go. It’s as though I put them on and take them off, like clothes. And I choose my clothes according to the situation. From this realization I can say, “I play the role of father, business partner, lover.” I begin to disidentify, to see that I am not that. I am something else who at times plays that role.


Are you willing to see that many of your identities are just roles you’re playing? Are you willing to say, “I play the role of _____________”?

If you’re like most people you can rather easily loosen your attachment to certain identities, while others seem much stickier. They seem more essential, definitional to who you are. You have more identification with some identities than others. 

For example, your name. People have called you by your name hundreds of thousands of times. How often has someone said, “Who are you?” and you answered with your name? We are identified with our name. What’s true is that for most of us, someone else gave us our name. They called us that. Thus one of the first identifications that occurs with children is with their name. 

When I lead groups exploring consciousness I often have people introduce themselves by saying, “I am called _______ (Jim).”

What this allows us to see is that our name is simply a label, an identity, and usually one that someone else gave us. We can see that we are not a “Jim.” When we add, “and I play the roles of ________,” the identification is loosening. 

“Hi, I’m called Jim and I play the roles of father, business partner and lover.”

But it’s more difficult to see that you’re just playing a role with some identities. 

For example, for many their gender feels quite TRUE and FIXED. For much of my life I identified as male, and still do. When I am identified with being male it feels to me that when I am being father, business partner and lover I’m being each as a man. Maleness is somehow more foundational to my identity than the other relational roles. 

My personal view is that one of the gifts being offered to all of us by the collective conversation around gender is that it can invite us to question an identity, to hold it loosely, to see it as a role we play. 

However, most of the conversation is not inviting us to loosen our grip on our identity. Rather, most people participating in the conversation are tightening their grip on their identity.  Or, more accurately, the identity is tightening its grip on them.

For example, when a cisgendered person fights against the identities of queer, trans, nonbinary they are just being a human trapped in To Me identification where they see themselves as right and others as wrong. They are out to prove they’re right, which includes denying the validity and even the existence of any other identities. 

Those who identify as nonbinary often do the same. They fight for an identity, even when the identity is that I have no identity (I’m fluid). This can look like getting righteous and angry when others don’t honor your pronouns. From To Me I’m entitled to have people refer to me by my preferred pronouns. 

At one level, this is of course true. You have a right to be called what you want to be called. And at the level of exploring consciousness and awakening, that attachment to identity claiming this right is standing in the way of your freedom and aliveness, of you really discovering the truth of what you are.

I want to say something provocative (if I haven’t already).

As you get devoted to waking up and seeing the truth of who/what you really are you’ll look forward to people fucking with your identities, intentionally and unintentionally.

This could look like disrespecting the identities, questioning them, fighting with them, teasing you about them, etc. I’m not saying this will be pleasant. In fact, it will usually at first be painful. Having our ego identifications pricked hurts our ego.  But after we contract we have the possibility to see that we have just identified with an identity. Then we can accept ourselves for reacting and see if we’re willing to loosen the grip of our attachment. 

Identified identities are like clothes that are too small. They keep us contracted, bound up, and in pain. As we explore By Me consciousness and the possibility that we’re just playing an identity, more space, freedom and aliveness show up.

3. THROUGH ME CONSCIOUSNESS AND IDENTITY: “Sometimes ______ happens through me.”

Disidentification continues as you see and experience that the roles you’re playing are not even personal. They’re not about you. It’s not that I, Jim Dethmer, am playing the role of Father. I see, instead, that fathering sometimes is happening through me. In Through Me both the “me” and the identities are becoming more porous and less personal. I am surrendered to a flow state and more available to have LIFE and LOVE manifest through me in whatever way they want. I am becoming less attached.

Instead of playing a role, I’m available to be played by life.

In one moment fathering could be coming through me and in the next, mothering. In one setting I could be a wise elder and in another a wide-eyed child. In one moment anger could be flowing through me and dancing on me, and in the next joy or sadness or fear. 

I am free. I am not constrained or limited by any identities either created by me or imposed by others. I am like the open sky that can allow and be filled by all kinds of weather patterns and cloud formations. 

I might still most often appear to others and myself as Jim, an old white, cis, married, father, grandfather, teacher…. But there is very little attachment to being any of these and I know deep down that I am none of these, and what I truly am allows for all of these energies and more. 

As we continue to grow in consciousness and disidentify we begin to naturally wonder, “If I am not that [identities], what am I?” When this question first presents itself it can be quite destabilizing. If I’ve always thought I was that, and if I’m not that, then who am I? A sense of existential panic can emerge; a true identity crisis

It is in the midst of this crisis that a pilgrim on the consciousness journey begins to ask the deep questions of “Who am I?” “What am I?” “Where am I?” “When am I?”

4. AS ME CONSCIOUSNESS AND IDENTITY: “I am not _________, I am loving awake awareness.”

When I sit in these questions, really sit in them in deep curiosity, I begin to experience the truth of what I am. I begin to experience the “I am-ness” of being. Most traditions have names for this “I am-ness.” As you continue your journey you might have something you call this as well. And, you’ll know that it can’t really be called anything, can’t be named, labeled, or even described. It is is-ness itself. 

A practice I have done for years as part of growing in consciousness is that when I find myself identifying with one of my identities I’ll take a deep breath and say something like, “I am not ___________, I am loving awake awareness.” Yesterday while walking in the woods I said things like: 

I am not my thoughts, I am loving awake awareness.

I am not my body, I am loving awake awareness.

I am not my anger, I am loving awake awareness.

I am not old, tired and worn out from the holidays, I am loving awake awareness.

On and on I go, disidentifying. 

Finally, I come to a fun question I ask myself often, 

“Could I rest as that which is beyond all identities/roles or as that which needs no role/identity to be?”

And then I rest. I rest as everything and nothing. As all identities at once and no identity at all. I gladly wear all the identities and love playing them (BY ME) and being played by them (THROUGH ME) while knowing experientially what I am is beyond all that (AS ME). 

And then, identification occurs again. I identify with one of my identities and get triggered, go below the line, become reactive (TO ME) and the great journey of waking up begins again.

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