Well… really the title should be more like “Why You Shouldn’t Attach Your Identity to Groups… If You Want to Be Extraordinary in Any Sense.”
Don’t get me wrong, groups can be awesome and tremendously helpful. But the problem comes when you attach your whole identity to a group. In that case, you concede your brilliant uniqueness and take on unnecessary limitation. And ain’t nobody got time for that.
Not identifying with a group doesn’t mean never stepping foot any place of worship, or never playing for a team again. It means not attaching your identity, your sense of self, to it. You can participate in anything and everything, without being bound to the limitations of one group. You can get useful insights, experiences and wisdom from literally everywhere. You’re free to be your own master, create your own destiny and journey wherever you please.
“Never belong to a crowd; Never belong to a nation; Never belong to a religion; Never belong to a race. Belong to the whole existence. Why limit yourself to small things? When the whole is available.” -Osho
Fly free, my friend
Why You Shouldn’t Attach Your Identity to Groups (10 Reasons):
1. Not labeling yourself is pure freedom.
Being relentlessly yourself is the ultimate freedom. You’re free to entertain any idea. Free to travel wherever life takes you. Free to experience everything life has to offer. Don’t be your own jail-keeper. Step outside of the prison cell.
There’s no need to slap a label on yourself and attach your identity with being a Christian, or Jewish, or a republican, or a democrat, or a janitor, or a lawyer, or American, or Italian, or a Pokemon Master (that might be an exception though 😉 ). Just be you! Just BE. Allow yourself to live with the joyous delight of flexibility. Embrace the enlightening capacity of entertaining any idea or immersing yourself in any situation.
“It’s what you can let go of that determines how high you fly.” -Ralph Smart
Let go of the weight of all the labels you’re carrying, and soar to new heights.
2. Your life becomes the Bruce Lee quote “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”
You gain the ability to draw useful information, experience and wisdom from anywhere. You also gain the flexibility to let go of anything that doesn’t serve your best interests. And you put you own unique spin on everything. This allows your life to be a dynamic, flexible and blissfully free dance with “reality.”
“Think about the power you have when you can readily entertain and deviate from ideas.” -Elliott Hulse
3. The ability to evolve more quickly.
As an individual, you can be far more dynamic in your evolution than if you’re attached to a group. Groups have a hard time adjusting to new environments and accepting change, while individuals ride (more like joyride) the winds of change.
Think about decisions. When you have a big group of people, it takes forever to decide where to even eat dinner. But as an individual, you just spontaneously do things. Spontaneity is the playfulness of the spirit emerging through you.
Being an individual allows you to follow your intuition; to take heed to the signs and move wherever life takes you.
Because an individual is far more dynamic and adaptable than a group, individuals are able to more easily transcend cognitive dissonance. (“In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time.” –Wikipedia) Groups tend to be paralyzed by cognitive dissonance when they encounter accurate or truthful information which contrasts their inherent beliefs.
Individuals can readily entertain and let go of ideas, while groups cling to ideas. Groups only exist because they’re based around a certain idea or collection of ideas. And if there is information contrary to these ideas, it causes cognitive dissonance and irrational thinking for those who attach their identity to the group. This is why many rigid groups simply ignore factual or new information, even information that can be massively beneficial. Why? Because it contradicts the ideas that the group is based upon, and they don’t no how to deal with it.
Be an individual, adapt, evolve and keep becoming the greatest version of yourself.
4. Existing in Love (as opposed to fear).
Many people cling to groups out of fear. Many label themselves as Christians, not because they strive to be Christ-like, but merely to avoid going to hell (or they’re too afraid to do something other than what they were born into, or they’re afraid of what their family would say…etc). People contemptuously cling to nationalities, because they’re afraid and ignorant of people who are different from them. This type of misled pride is often driven by the ego’s need for a convenient, classifiable identity. Ultimately, the ego fears for it’s own survival if not firmly attached to a label. Because when you just BE, you’re able transcend the limitations of fear and ego.
Letting go of labels allows you to let go of fear, and live in love. The more you operate in love, the more you will naturally let go of destructive behaviors, people, and situations. You will follow your bliss, existing in a state of pure love (well, most of the time, because nobody’s perfect, right?).
Love is our essence, re-familiarize with it and experience the life you were meant to live.
If you identify strongly with a group, you’re inheriting the biases of that group. And on top of this, you’re constantly going to be around people with the same biases as yourself, which will further solidify any biases you already have. If you draw information from everywhere and engage with a variety of different people, you’re going to have far less biases, and a clearer picture of “reality.”
You’ll never be completely unbiased, but as an individual you can avoid the severely limiting biases that a lot of groups have.
6. Not succumbing to groupthink.
“Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.” (Wikipedia)
It’s groupthink that has driven the large-scale tragedies we’ve seen in the world. The phenomenon of groupthink allowed the likes of Hitler and Stalin to perpetuate immense atrocities on humankind. These things would not occur if people weren’t so quick to conform (out of fear). These things will not occur when we all embrace our uniqueness, think for ourselves and live based in Love (not fear).
“The pioneers of a warless world are the young men (and women) who refuse military service.” – Albert Einstein
We’re social creatures, needing interactions with others. But with this comes conformity. People tend to conform to ideas and standards in groups, even if they wouldn’t when alone. A great benefit of not rigidly identifying with groups is that you develop the awareness to choose your own actions, in every situation. Individuals recognize that they don’t have to conform to detrimental ideas or standards that many groups propagate.
“The worst curse to befall anyone is stagnation, a banal existence, the quiet desperation that comes out of a need for conformity.” -Deepak Chopra
7. You will experience more.
People who are individuals will develop relationships with a variety of different people, come across a myriad of diverse information, and expose themselves to a vast variety of life experiences. And that’s what life is all about, the experiences.
“Never forget that you are not in the world; the world is in you. When anything happens to you, take the experience inward. Creation is set up to bring you constant hints and clues about your role as co-creator. Your soul is metabolizing experience as surely as your body is metabolizing food.” -Deepak Chopra
“Experience life in all possible ways — good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become.” -Osho
8. Harness the power of solitude.
If you don’t rigidly identify with groups, that means you’ll get more quality alone time (or at least the freedom to come up with your own thoughts and ideas). It’s during these moments of solitude that you get to know yourself, and allow for creative inspiration to come through.
“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” -Aldous Huxley
Solitude allows you to take a break from the incessant external noise, and tap into your inner awareness.
9. Just being you allows your true self to shine through.
As an individual, you have the flexibility to express your own brilliant uniqueness. You have absolute freedom to express your innate, one-of-a-kind creativity; something that is virtually impossible when you completely identify with a group. Attaching your identity to a group is like making a pact to suppress your intrinsic uniqueness; to be more like other people and less like your true self.
Not expressing your individuality is a complete disservice to your unique existence.
Why fit in, when we were meant to stand out?
“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.” -Victoria Moran
10. The people who have made the biggest impact on the world have been distinct individuals.
Think about the “great” people we’re all familiar with… Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Leonardo Da Vinci…etc. Sure, some of them may have associated with groups, but they’re remembered for their brilliant individuality. They truly did their own thing, living their essence, and that’s what makes them so memorable. No one achieves any greatness by merely maintaining the status quo.
Think about all successful people, or people you admire as well. They’re all unmistakably themselves. If they merely blended in with the herd, they wouldn’t be who they are.
“What attracts people to me is that I’m relentlessly me, to the point that it’s fucking weird.” -Elliott Hulse
Groups aren’t inherently “bad.” Many groups can greatly contribute to one’s personal development and life experience. But rigidly attaching identity to groups is so limiting.
You don’t have to abandon every group you belong to and live the life of a hermit. Quite the opposite, in fact. Experience everything life has to offer, and draw upon as many people as possible to create your own unique journey.
And remember… Just be you!
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Stay feelin’ good, feelin’ great.