Levels of Identity
Our reference points for who we are
There are different levels of identity. Identity is a reference point for who/what we know ourselves to be. Identity is important because depending on what we are identifying ourselves with or as will determine what we perceive and thus how we interact with everything in our world.
So what are these different levels of identity? I am going to describe 4 different “levels of identity” as I’ve come to know them. The 4 different levels are pre-rational, person, soul and God identity.
Pre-rational identity is that level of identity before we know ourselves as a self, or as an individual person. This level of identity is pre-thought or pre-thinking ourselves into being. There isn’t a sense of separateness between self and other selves because you don’t know yourself as a self yet. In a sense you are your environment. There isn’t the self awareness of having an experience. You are experience and it’s simply happening. This is seen in early stages of human life, especially noted in babies and very young toddlers before they know that a “me” exists. Since you are experience and its simply happening there isn’t a “you” in the drivers seat, instead the environment is driving. This is important especially if survival or emotional needs don’t get met by the environment that we are, because inherent in this is a sense of powerlessness to the environment. When this occurs pathways can go undeveloped in our nervous system, particularly pathways that get fired when our nervous system experiences safety, satiation, and rest. Simultaneously other pathways get overdeveloped that relay information that environment is not safe, there is hunger, and to stay vigilant.
When the pathways that know safety, satiation and rest are underdeveloped then the structure or framework that our system needs to integrate pre-rational identity gets halted and fragmentation or splitting of experience occurs. We can call this distortion and it activates a cascade of protective mechanisms to try and keep us safe and alive. Since there is a myriad of experiences that occur, some which fire safety pathways and some that fire pathways that say “not safe” what happens is that some fragmented parts stay at this pre-rational level of identity. What this can show up as in our adult life is feeling victim or powerless in certain aspects of our life. You can also experience a general sense of not being able to relax or only being able to relax in certain environments or if certain conditions are met. You may also experience that people or things aren’t safe or can’t be trusted, and that there may not be enough food or attention and love so you hoard or over consume. There can also be a naivety about how things work and things can seem magical and mysterious. This is also the place where life force (or body) intelligence and emotional intelligence reign. What this means is that if we have aspects that have fragmented and are halted at this level of identity we can have challenges in physical health/healing and emotional resilience. If this level of identity isn’t integrated there is also more reactivity and focus on survival, so we can see defensive and protective posturing and physiology that would be associated with fight, flight or freeze responses.
At the level of person identity we have developed a sense of a separate self that is separate from others and from the environment. This level of identity requires the faculties of mental intelligence which include the ability to think, discern, see self as separate from other selves and be aware of feelings, sensations and as having a body without being identified as them. There is a self that is aware that it has feelings and sensations which means you are not completely fused with them as them. This begins to wake up choice, options, different possibilities and seeing the bigger picture, along with the awareness that you are in charge of and even the creator of your life.
Usually around age 3 this person identity has showed up on the scene and it continues to develop into adolescence and early adulthood. We can have experiences within this time that create fragmentation and distortion at this level of identity. Some examples would be in not being seen as a unique person that we are, not having mirrored to us that we have skills and abilities, not being given options and being able to choose but instead being told what to do, and not having opportunity to express our unique nature. These experiences don’t allow us to fire the pathways in our nervous system that are related to confidence, to feeling both failure and success and making it through, to feeling our power and our ability to choose, and to see how we impact our environment including our own body. This stunts us in the development of our person identity as a separate self. This can show up in us as adults by having difficulty with making choices, head being foggy, thoughts are unclear, difficulty knowing what you desire as a person or knowing your preferences, allowing people to walk all over you, or lacking confidence and drive. In the nervous system this has less to do with protective posturing and fight/flight/freeze (though some of that may be present from on un-integrated pre-rational identity) and more to do with oscillating between disempowerment and feelings solidity and strength in self. When person identity is not integrated the posturing tends to be more slumped or defeated, and as person identity get more integrated the posture becomes more upright and assertive.
Soul identity is knowing yourself as in individuated being (like person identity), however there is awareness of your interconnectedness with all beings (and not just beings with physical, human form). The separation of people and things is not like it is in person identity. There are less solid barriers, defined edges and distinctions between people and objects. Your experience is less “contained inside of your own head” and is more fluid and interwoven with everything else. Different from pre-rational identity you are not identified as the environment, but instead know your interconnectedness within it. This allows you to experience a greater range of energy and you notice the presence of things and people more than their physical form or personality characteristics. When your identity is at the soul level you are able to move your awareness around in your body and outside of your body and even into other bodies and objects, which is different than person identity where your awareness is primarily located in your head.
This level of identity in connected with soul intelligence. Soul intelligence is concerned with expanding and deepening in presence energy, love, wisdom, and interconnectedness. Unity is at its core frequency. The concerns that drive a person who is identified at soul level identity are how to be more awareness, knowingness of our truest nature and creating things to better serve the whole. In general stabilizing in soul identity has been less accessible to humans. We have had less mirrors available for mirroring this level of identity to us at our current planetary level of development, so the pathways are not as developed in our nervous systems, however this is changing. The nervous system of someone who is identified at soul level identity expands to include what I call the “galactic” nervous system. This is what allows you as an individuated being to be interconnected with everything else including what people may refer to as your “higher” self as well as other parallel versions of yourself and others. Your thoughts are not just your thoughts, feelings are shared between people and things, information is more readily available to you but not through your normal pathways of mental intelligence or knowing, but instead through this soul intelligence or galactic highway. The posturing is of the chest/heart being expanded and open, the head/neck come backwards instead of forward of the body and the physiology of the body is in greater communication and interconnectedness.
God identity goes beyond knowing yourself as anything individuated. When you penetrate beyond the subtlest aspects of soul identity the only place left to identify with is One. There is absolutely zero separation from anything in God identity. You know yourself as pure awareness, beyond all forms, beyond all energy, only aware of awareness in its most pure state. There is no activity here, but instead primordial awakeness before anything is made manifest; simply being. This is what most call our truest identity, yet some say there is still something even beyond this, something without beingness and without experience which is actually our truest identity.
Since God identity is beyond form there is no posturing or physiology to note, but when someone is identified at this level while in form its like touching space. There is a vast, open, pure and empty quality that expresses through their form. There is no need for a nervous system to communicate with itself on an individuated level or a galactic level with others because you simply are everything. All is instantaneous and happens at once. Interconnectedness becomes one. This is universal intelligence.
Each level of identity is important, one is not better than the next. From my current level of understanding these levels of identity are a developmental progression, each creating a foundation for the next. You can be identified mostly in one level, say person identity, and you can simultaneously have tastes of these other identities. But to truly stabilize at another level of identity you need multiple tastes of the next level and also full integration of the previous levels. For example it would be very hard to stabilize in soul level identity if you have a lot of unresolved or unintegrated experiences at pre-rational or person level identity, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have tastes of it. Typically when we have “peak” experiences, like say when we go to some type of transformational program, we get a taste of another level of identity that is possible. If we’ve done enough integration work at previous levels than sometimes that’s all it takes to stabilize into a new identity. However if we don’t stabilize at the next level of identity which we tasted than those parts of ourselves that still need to get integrated will rise up into our awareness. This is why sometime we actually go into chaos after a peak experience or a really high energy state. The chaos is not bad or something to be fixed or gotten rid of but instead it is all of the stuff that we need to look at, address and be with so that we can really stabilize into the next level of our identity.
Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado