If we hold still long enough, we begin to feel what we really feel and to know what we really know—a prospect so terrifying that some people bolt rather than face it.
If you can do this—get used to sitting still until you feel what you feel and know what you know—your labels will start peeling away like onion skins. Oh, it won't be easy. Your anxieties and neuroses will come yammering out of the walls like the Hounds of Hell. You'll find that your mental demons have less staying power than you thought. Eventually you will begin to sense a very deep self that defies all labels, a calm soul who has experienced your whole life
All great wisdom traditions point to the knowledge that the essence of our true selves is not any fixed label but the capacity to experience.
Go back to the first sentence of this article, remembering the label you gave yourself. Now repeat it, but instead of saying "I am a big fat loser" or "I am a powerful executive," say "I am one who calls myself a big fat loser" or "I am one who calls myself a powerful executive." This wording may feel a bit awkward, but (1) it happens to be true, and (2) it helps you detach from both negative and positive labels.
Our belief in labels, not the labels themselves, is what gives them the power to influence our behavior. Knowing how to let go of any given identity without losing our essential selves yields a security we'll never get from fame, power, money, beauty, or any other personality prop.
By stilling our bodies and minds, becoming the One Who Experiences, and playing with labels the way we might play with costumes, we can remain ourselves no matter what happens: loss or gain, pain or pleasure, fame or disrepute.