Hello! First of all, I absolutely love this question! And thank you for reaching out.
Here are my thoughts:
Yes, I have heard of the idea that our sense of self and our ego is an illusion, and I do believe it. That’s why I regularly do stream of consciousness journaling and mediate in hopes of shedding some of that ego and identity and finding that sense of inner peace and oneness. Because I believe that the way that we are raised, the media we consume, the people in our lives, the books we read, the city we live in, and societal beliefs, etc. all shape the idea that we have of ourselves. Therefore, it’s an illusion that been slowly crafted by outside influences.
For example, I wrote a blog post called “Social Media and Finding Your “Thing”,” about how today everyone has highly curated social media accounts that are well-branded. Especially the “online influencers.” Unfortunately, people are following these accounts and seeing visuals that shape this character they see online. They think, “Oh that’s the pretty vegan girl who does yoga.” Or, “That’s the surf photographer who lives in Hawaii and eats a lot of smoothies.” This further adds to the problem that many of us deal with today when it comes to our self-identity. It makes us think … well what am I? What is my “thing?” What should I be known for? What is my brand? (This is just one example of many).
The problem is, we are human beings. We’re not as cut and dry as the brand or the identity we put out to others. We are multifaceted. Which is why I think it’s so important to work on this and to both question and shed those beliefs that have been ingrained in us.
However, with that being said, it’s still human nature to want to find your purpose, your identity, and your place in the world. I think there’s a big difference between having an illusion of the self that’s based on what you’ve learned from society and the sense of self that you create by doing what you love and what feels authentic to you. It’s ok to have a sense of self while remembering that we are all connected. It’s all about balance.
But if you’re confused with finding your self-identity and don’t even know where to start, I recommended doing a lot of stream of consciousness journaling to help with self-discovery. Open up a document on your computer and write whatever comes to mind, completely unfiltered. Don’t write to re-read it, don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just let every thought flow out of your head and on to paper. Just keep writing and work on different self-discovery prompts. I can send you some if you’re interested.
By doing this it allows you to stop re-playing thoughts in your head and get them out. It allows you to discover things that have been buried deep within because our minds are usually so busy. Sometimes it will lead to a life-transforming epiphany.. sometimes it won’t. But at the very least it will make you feel better and learn more about yourself a little bit each day.
I discovered who I was and what my passion is in life through a late night journaling session. It works because it teaches you how to listen to your our inner wisdom without any sort of judgment or outside influence. It allows your raw, authentic self to come through, which we usually don’t get to see.
I also recommend taking some time off of social media, T.V., and Netflix. Once you do this, even if it’s just for a day, you’ll realize how much noise these sources have created in your life. It will show you how the self has been an illusion because we’re usually so consumed by something outside of ourselves. You’ll notice how strange it is to sit in a room in quiet with your own thoughts. But only through listening to yourself and getting really quiet, will you discover your true self.