The Voluntary Life: 290 Escaping The Identity Trap

1 May 2017

290 Escaping The Identity Trap


The identity trap is an idea from Harry Browne's book How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World. Harry suggested that some widely held assumptions about life are false. By accepting such false assumptions, you lose your freedom. He called these false assumptions "traps".

The identity trap is the belief that you should be the person that others want you to be, rather than being yourself. In the episode, I suggest two key questions to ask yourself in order to escape the identity trap.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 290


5 comments:

  1. I'm with Harry on this one. After you reject the Identity Trap, you no longer need to discover your true self (who you "really" are), because you now ARE your true self.

    If someone says to such a person "Now you need to find your true self", it's as contradictory as saying "You are actually someone different from who you really are".

    I don't reject the worth of "finding your true self". But I see it as identical to "throwing off the identity trap". After you have done that, you are no longer masking your true self, and the quest to find your true self is complete.

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    1. I agree that finding your true self means the same as escaping the identity trap. However, there is usually more than one identity trap to break free from (more than one expectation of others about who you should be) and most people find it hard to recognise that they are trapped in the first place. My point was that discovering (and admitting to yourself) the ways in which you are trapped can be a hard struggle, although totally worth it.

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  2. Where can I find the clip that you used in this episode?

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    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doFSh8WM1h4

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  3. I think what makes it so difficult and ongoing, to me at least, lies not in discovering such traps (though that's hard too) but rather in how easy it is to fall back into old patterns. While I can imagine rejecting some patterns as identity traps "once and for all", I need consistent work to remind myself, whenever I fall back into those old patterns, of what is really true to myself. Maybe I'm being forgetful, or maybe it is due to personality or that my personal methods and causes are quite spread out. It would perhaps feel easier if I had one main cause in life, maybe not. Maybe it's just as difficult for everyone. But to me, constantly reminding myself of what it means to be true to myself, and why that's so important to me, and then keep trying to act that out to the world, seems to be "the" life-long challenge.

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