by Patrick Drysdale
Once upon a time... there was a town called Whimsical Valley. It was a theatrical place where everyone pretended to be all sorts of different characters. They all enjoyed playing various roles just for the fun of it.
A man on one side of town imagined himself to be a knight in shining armor. A woman on the other side of the city idealized herself as a damsel in distress and their appropriate roles drew them together. Still others fancied themselves as heavenly messengers with a mission to save the world.
In the beginning, everyone relished playing a certain personality one day and something else the next. But after a while their amusement turned into monotonous drudgery and they would play the same roles over and over again. And after a while the people of Whimsical Valley had performed their parts for so long that they started believing in their starry-eyed roles. They found it harder and harder to remove their disguises and eventually their masks started sticking to their faces.
One day a wise magician was passing through town. He saw that the people had trouble removing their masks so he went to the local paper and took out an ad for a free demonstration of his Miracle Mask Remover. "No sticky sprays or messy powders," the ad read. "Guaranteed to remove masks with continued application."
Almost everyone in Whimsical Valley saw the ad but only a few showed up. The magician understood that most had grown so accustomed to their masks that they no longer believed that they wore them. He knew that they didn't think his presentation held anything in it for them.
On the night of the exhibition he passed out free samples of the mask remover and instructions on how to apply it. He urged the attendees to become aware that they were acting from fictitious ideas about themselves and explained to them that they were too identified with the parts they played. "You've worn your masks for so long," he said, "that you don't even know you have them on anymore. But if you practice these instructions everyday," the magician continued, "your masks will eventually fall off." Then he vanished.
Some of the people felt that the wise man had a good product but were not convinced that they themselves wore false faces. They took their bottles home and never opened them and continued to act out the roles of their masks, all the while believing that they were being themselves.
Some of the people even resented the magician suggesting that they were someone other than who they thought they were. They went around telling the others in Whimsical Valley that the magician was a fraud.
But some of the people who attended the demonstration tried the mask remover. Most forgot to use it everyday because it was a new activity for them, but when ever they remembered, they applied the magicians instructions. It wasn't until their masks started coming loose that they were even able to really believe that they wore them.
One by one, the brave people who practiced the magician's instructions took great delight in rediscovering their authentic features. Each one knew that this was the familiar appearance he used to know and felt nothing but gratitude for the wise man's visit. He had helped them return to what they originally were.
Interested in finding your authentic identity? Here are three simple rules to keep in mind.
The first is that there's nothing for you to do, only something to understand. It's important to remember that your genuine features are mixed in with a lot of acquired identifications of what you think you should be. You are not your physical body, your personality, thoughts, feelings, home, career, bank account or any concepts that you may have about yourself. You are just as different from these things as you are from the clothes you put on in the morning.
When you get rid of false identifications, some areas of your life that previously seemed to fit will stop fitting. Shifts in taste and perception frequently accompany shifts in identity. One of the clearest signals that something healthy is afoot is the impulse to weed out, sort through, and discard old clothes, papers, and belongings. Half your wardrobe may start to look funny. You may decide to reupholster a couch or just toss it out. Musical bents may alter. There may even be bursts of spontaneous singing and running. In short, your real tastes and personal identity will start to emerge.
What you've been doing is wiping your inner mirror. Up till now, there's been a blur between you and your real self but as you drop identifications, your image becomes clearer and it may surprise you. You'll discover likes and dislikes that you hadn't acknowledged. Perhaps a fondness for ivy. So why do you have all those cactuses? A dislike for brown. No wonder you never feel right wearing that brown sweater that everyone else likes. Conditioned as we are to accept other people's definitions of us, this emerging individuality can often seem like self-will run amuck. It isn't.
The second is not to assume you already know everything there is to know about yourself. There's a lot more comprising your entirety than you realize. Thinking that you presently understand yourself is like gazing at the tip of an iceberg and taking for granted you've seen the whole thing. In actuality, most of what you do and say is determined unconsciously.
Most of our behavior, for example, has been learned by unconsciously imitating others. People are strange. It's as if we have an inborn mechanism that automatically makes us imitate anything we see or hear. Believe it or not, almost everything we do and say is because we've heard somebody else do and say it first.
I did an experiment once to see if others could be influenced to behave differently without their knowing it. I gave it a time limit of one month. Everyday I repeated the same nonsensical gestures over and over again while talking with them.
Guess what? Before the month was up, two others were already performing rudimentary versions of my silly displays. This confirmed my suspicion that people will unconsciously imitate any behavior as long as they see somebody else do it first.
But seeing how easy it was to influence others didn't
prepare me for the stunning conclusion from this experiment. The unexpected eye-opener was
that if I wanted others to change their behavior,
Because people can't perform a new behavior until someone first shows them what it looks like. Once they see how it's done, they'll automatically mimic this fresh conduct without question. "Imitate what you see" seems to be one of the laws of the unconscious.
Finally, realize that no person or circumstance can stop you from experiencing this natural state. Your innate self is something you can enjoy in this life right here on earth. It's a rediscovery of what you essentially are and not a rare occurrence reserved for a privileged few. It's an interior growth into spiritual maturity.
With patience and persistence, you'll start realizing who you are and, more importantly, what you're not. Understand that you don't need to start from anywhere than where you are right now and that no sincere effort on your part is ever wasted. Begin with the thought that having just a little bit of light leads to more light. It always does.
No one goes to a king and asks for a penny. Try applying this same principle to your inner life and make a bold request to experience your genuine nature from one end to the other. Just dare a lot and you'll get a lot. Wholeness guaranteed.
?1996 Patrick Drysdale
by Patrick Drysdale email@example.com