Ruthie: In today’s episode, Shelly Brown and I dive into the notion of identity and I had to ask her, “If I’m not who I think I am, then who am I?”
Who You Are Vs. What You Did
Ruthie: I’m sure you probably get this question in your workshops, but I’ve decided not to edit it out in an effort to be genuine. When I think of myself, I’m thinking, “I’m the entrepreneur, I’m the mom, I’m the lady with the chickens.” When people ask, this is what I consider myself to be.
These things have so much meaning and value in our lives, at least while they’re there. For example running, or my service time. It was hard getting out of the Army. They didn’t prepare me for that part. I went from being in the Army to being a stay-at-home mom. In a way, I still feel like there’s something missing from when I served. There was something about the way I felt back then that I’m not sure I’ve completely gotten back. So how do we figure it out?
Shelley: Well, that’s a very powerful question. I used to walk around saying, “I’m a runner!” But I wasn’t a runner; I was somebody who ran.
Ruthie: I used to be a bodybuilder, so I get that. I was somebody who lifted a lot of weights and walked around on stage in shiny costumes.
Shelley: All we are is consciousness. You’ll always be a mom because you gave birth to children. It’s a part of who you are, but it’s not your full identity.
Ruthie: Yeah. It’s not my essence.
Shelley: And you loved being in the Army, but it’s not who you are. It’s something you did.
Ruthie: That’s true. The Army did a really good job of making you feel like it was who you were though.
We Are Just Consciousness
Shelley: We can have all these parts of our lives that are really, really important to us. It doesn’t mean that they lose their value or importance, but we are just consciousness. We can’t go around grabbing hold of the things that we could lose.
How can we define ourselves by things that are impermanent? You’re always going to be a mom -that is permanent- but how many people are suffering because they lost a job? And I’m not talking about the economic suffering; I’m talking about ego suffering. I’m talking about that loss of, “Oh my gosh, I’m no longer this!” How many women suffer because they’re not a certain body shape or size, or they don’t look a certain way, or because the numbers on the scale are up 5 lbs this week? That doesn’t mean that something’s wrong with who they are. That’s suffering that doesn’t have to exist.
Are You Currently Writing a Book?
Ruthie: You said you were a writer. Are you writing a book about this? Because I feel like I need to read it.
Shelley: I’m writing a book. A lot of it is my funny observational experiences about life. I always had to take a freight train to a rollercoaster down a rabbit hole to learn a lesson, so I started writing about how I process life. The stories are funny, quirky, weird and relatable. It’s just about me bearing witness to this life. I’m also a big proponent of “joying it forward”, to spread joy. Even when I bear witness to painful things, I really don’t open up the curtain and show all the crap. I prefer to look at it in the shadows.