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The unfortunate (but also very fortunate) truth is that our sense of identity dictates our experience of reality. Everything we see, touch, taste, hear or smell gets unconsciously filtered through our sense of identity before we relate to it.

This means that we don’t actually relate to “reality” but only to a very filtered and distorted version of it. Our entire experience of life is therefore dictated far less by what happens to us or by what is objectively true and far more by how our identity filters and interprets those things. Objective truth might exist, but our experience of truth is almost entirely subjective and a consequence of identity.

We can see clearly how this works, at least in others, when it reaches obviously pathological extremes. For instance, anorexics identify as fat and experience life as obese persons even though they are in fact deathly thin. And clinically paranoid people live life constantly under attack even though they actually are not.

The identity filter works primarily by creating an unconscious but massive selection bias and confirmation bias. “Facts” and “data” that are consistent with our personal identity narrative are permitted through the filter while those that contradict it almost never are. So we see, touch, taste, hear, and smell what our identity dictates and not what really is.

Though it is most obvious at clearly pathological levels, the exact same thing happens to all of us 24/7. All of us are constantly made delusional (and also highly anxious) by misidentifying with things.

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Unfortunately, most of our sense of identity was formed before we had sufficient intelligence and self-awareness to be conscious and deliberative about it. Our identity narratives were not therefore consciously chosen but rather unconsciously adopted as a consequence of childhood experiences and conditioning.

The good news is that once we start to become aware of how greatly our identity dictates our life experience, we can change it. And by doing so, we can change our entire life.

Alas, the process of shedding identity narratives and labels is akin to performing surgery on yourself without anesthesia, but the payoff is entirely worth it. With diligence and devotion, one can trade a year or so of painful work for a lifetime of comparative bliss.

Taken all the way to its end (which few actually do), the final result of this process is simply…” I am”. Not “I am white” or “I am rich” or “I am poor” or “I am dumb” or “I am smart” or “I am American” or “I am Puerto Rican”. Just…” I am”.

Even the stripped-down “I am” identity creates a filter that distorts reality some (because at the most fundamental level of reality, we are not). But with this minimal identity we are at least much closer to the truth and, free of the excessive distortion of identity labels, we then see more clearly, flow more freely, manifest more authentically and live less painfully.

[If you want to think and see more clearly; discern more accurately; predict more reliably and live, love, and understand yourself and the world more fully; or if you just want to watch people who do; then please continue to follow me here.]