Man's Search for Meaning

Man’s search for meaning – a journey that has many roads; many paths – some rewarding; some strewn with fool’s gold. A continuing thread in this quest seems to be the seeker’s looking for understanding and answers from sources outside of themselves.

Self-awareness is the defining characteristic of human beings. If nothing else, people usually know that they exist as individual entities. People are each unique and have their own interpretation of the universe and individual way in which they perceive it to be. There seems to be an inimitable aspect of a person that is always there, no matter what new concepts are grasped or what new insights are gained.

An individual’s life is a composite thing; made up of many different interests and relationships, such as a job, a family, and different groups to which one belongs or is affiliated. These components may blend, enhance or detract from one another, but they are definitely separate parts of a person’s pattern of existence. Likewise, people themselves are composed of separate and distinct parts; different “ways of being” – different “selves” they adopt, depending on the situation or circumstance they find themselves in. In Idenics we refer to these separate parts as “identities,” and define an identity as “a way of being in order to accomplish something.” Simply stated, an identity is a separate self created by the individual; a separate self consisting of ideas, beliefs, conclusions, decisions, etc. which is there to carry out some goal or purpose. An identity is a package of rules and laws dictating how to be in given circumstances. Examples of identities are a husband or wife identity; or a job-related identity such as a teacher or taxi driver.

There is apparently a basic individual or basic being, the “I,” which generates these identities, experiences life via these identities, and shifts in and out of them automatically; without much thought. For example: the computer salesman who at work is in his salesman identity, but when he comes home to the wife and kids he shifts into his husband or parent identity. As a salesman, his primary purpose is to sell more computers than anyone; a purpose and activity that would be inappropriate when he is at home with his family, so he shifts into the parent or husband identity with a different goal or purpose. But what does all this talk about identities have to do with a person’s search for meaning?

The one thing that people who have been perusing the fields of therapy and self-improvement have in common is that they all have something about themselves that they want to handle, resolve, change or improve. In Idenics we refer to such things as “unwanted personal conditions;” which can be expressed by a person in two different ways: (1) something that is present but is not wanted, such as an individual’s issue with anger or fear, or (2) something that is not present but is wanted, such as an ability that a person desires. It may not make sense categorizing a desire to attain an ability as an unwanted condition, but usually, if a practitioner asks a client if there is anything that holds them back or gets in their way from achieving or demonstrating that ability, the client comes up with more than one unwanted condition to be addressed. One of the primary discoveries in Idenics is that an unwanted condition is the “property” of some identity, and that by properly addressing the identity the unwanted condition can, in most cases, be easily resolved.

Having identities is not in itself aberrant to the individual. The assumption of identities as given in the examples above does not usually cause a person any difficulty. But the unknowing assumption of certain identities that people get stuck in, believing the identities to really be them, can create all sorts of trouble for the individual.

We can liken an identity to a suit of armor. When the knight puts on the armor it limits his movement but it is useful in certain circumstances. But imagine that once the man dons the armor he forgets that it is not him, and he believes that the armor is part of his skin. In other words, there is no longer any separation between him and it. In battle all is well, as he is protected by the heavy, metal covering. Later, though, walking by a lake he sees people swimming and decides that he, too, would like to swim. He jumps in and he sinks. Someone pulls him out of the water, and as he lies on the bank he thinks to himself, “What’s wrong with me? Other people can swim but I can’t.” Here is the unwanted condition. And all that he would have to do is to take off the armor, but he doesn’t know that it is not him.

The above analogy may be a bit simplistic, but it does serve to demonstrate how an unwanted condition is the property of an identity. People are “sunk” by identities that they think themselves to be and from which they cannot get themselves unstuck. A good definition of “stuck” in these circumstances is “being without noticing.” Unaware of identities people may believe that they are limited, and can invent a myriad of reasons and explanations that might make sense, but do not resolve their unwanted personal conditions.

The idea of identities in not new; many names have been given to them and lots of explanations of how they come to be. Many schools of thought mention identities and have for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. But much about identities, how and why they are formed, their characteristics and make-up, their relationship to people’s problems, how to deal with them, and their relative importance in a person’s search for self-actualization was not known prior to Idenics. Finding out who you really are may be as simple as discovering who you are not.

Idenics is a new system, and not a rehash of some earlier subject or subjects. Most people find that the Idenics concepts and application in no way conflict with their own beliefs and reality. On the contrary, most individuals are quite pleased to discover that Idenics is complementary to their own way of thinking.

Mike Goldstein