When we talk about who we are we often talk about superficial stuff like: “I am an engineer”, “I am a teacher”, “I am an honest person”, “I am a hard worker”, “I am a smoker”, “I am a mother”, etc.
All of this might be true.
And also none of it.
You are nothing of all the stuff you think you are, and ironically you are so much more.
When you label yourself as a “teacher” for example, you identify yourself with it. Per definition to identify means: “to make, represent to be, or regard or treat as the same”, which would result in YOU and the TEACHER being the same and this is where the error lies. Being a teacher is your profession, but it is not the essence of your being.
“This is just what I am, it is what I have been my whole life!”.
On the one hand this might be true, but on the other hand this is not your true self.
Think about this for a moment and ask yourself if you have things in your life you would “identify” yourself with it.
Whenever you have attached yourself to something so deeply that you created an identity around it, your brain has created a connection with it and has learned that this thing is the same as YOU. Some kids maybe do this when they grow up. When they are young they sometimes speak about themselves in third person because they have learned that their parents associate their names with themselves.
Later they learn that “I” is actually them and the same happens then when they get toys and they find out that these are actually MY toys now. The toy becomes a part of them because their brain associates it with their representation of the word “I” (or my). This is also the reason why these kids cry and seem to suffer so much when their toy falls downs and breaks into pieces. Their brain tells them, that something which they think belongs to them is now gone.
Ironically this is also the attitude a lot of grown up people have when life presents them challenges where everything they build up and identified with gets ripped away from one moment to the other.
Whenever you lose something/somebody and you feel immense suffering (for example at the end of a relationship, or when your business collapses, etc.), become conscious again. Recognize it as the ego in you.
It is not YOU who is hurt and suffers now, it is the EGO in you that feels itself being ripped apart, because something it identified with is now gone.
The ego feels now less than before and therefore you feel pain. Nobody can hurt or destroy your true self, your inner being. Ask yourself if your true self, the real you, is somehow diminished by your loss? Is your true self somehow now less than before?
The answer is always no.