Identity Theft

From a TED Talk on Body Language by Amy Cuddy:

I have to say, having your identity taken from you, your core identity…having that taken from you, there is nothing that leaves you feeling more powerless than that.

The whole talk is interesting…the take away is “fake it ’til you become it.”   In some ways I like that, in other ways, “faking it” in any shape or form sounds like what I’ve been doing all my life and I don’t want to do that any more.

Something for me to think about.

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2 thoughts on “Identity Theft

  1. Dear blogger, Baby B,
    I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your posts. I only stumbled across them recently. I’m a 55 year old woman living in UK, adopted (of course!) and I’ve spent years pondering, researching, reflecting on the impact of adoption on my life. And on who I really am.

    I’d seen the body language talk on Ted before – I’m a Ted talk fan! I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it first time around, so I watched it again through your link.

    I too felt uncomfortable with the fake it till you become it idea. For the same reasons as you – so much of my life had been imposed on me (so it felt), I had had to adapt so much to fit into a family where I never felt I belonged that being authentic – being my true self! – has become my personal mantra. And discovering who my true Self is has been a vital part of my life journey.
    Perhaps the difference is that Amy Cuddy was 19 when she experienced her trauma, she already identified with being smart and intelligent. She described being “smart” as a core identity that was taken from her. Personally, I see being smart and intelligent as qualities a person might have. Not as a person’s very identity. It’s as if a high school athlete about to turn professional has a car accident, loses his legs, he might feel as if he lost his core identity. As did Amy. At 19, of course one can confuse an amazing talent or quality you have, and which is going to be an integral part of your future career, with your “core identity”. And suddenly losing that quality or talent must be devastating, and could change the course of your whole life.

    But – I just don’t think it is the same as never having a core identity in the first place.

    Amy Cuddy might be adopted for all I know, I’m only guessing that she isn’t. If she isn’t adopted, she may well have had deep psychological roots with her own birth family – it sounds like they were supportive in encouraging her to be smart and become well educated at the least. For her, faking it till she became it was the right thing to do and it seems to have worked for her. I suspect she had a pretty strong belief in herself to start with, and eventually that self belief saw her through, though it clearly wasn’t easy for her, it left her very shaky emotionally for years.

    But we were infants when the trauma happened – we didn’t have pre-existing, secure familial roots to see us through the trauma, or a strong sense of self confidence – part of the trauma is that the infant believes herself to be “bad” or “wrong” in some way, otherwise she would not have been abandoned. It’s hard to dig deep and believe in yourself sometimes when the person who was supposed to care for you most pretended you never even existed.

    This comment / attempt to work out why ‘fake it till you become it’ didn’t resonate with me either, is also inspired by your post I saw today, with the article by Paul Sunderland. In which you ponder whether starving children in Palestine or India are not as traumatised as we think they might be….. Because they have adult family around digesting the trauma for them, saying this is wrong and my child shouldn’t have to go through it! Backing them up! Saying in effect, that the love and strong family ties they have help them through even the most horrendous experience. ie, they have deep roots like a tree, which helps them hold on through storms. That was a really interesting post, raising many fascinating questions about what we might think of as healthy psychologically.

    I know I’m guessing here, I just have a feeling that Amy Cuddy had strong roots which helped her through her storm. Whether she did or not, she’s using her experience to colour the way in which she helps others now, it’s brilliant. She’s brilliant.

    I think we as adoptees have a different kind of life journey though. Different life lessons. In the end you can’t compare everyone’s lives nor the wisdom they gained for themselves – some life lessons which were hard won and invaluable beyond measure for another person becomes advice which just doesn’t resonate for me. It’s only partially relevant to my own conundrum. It’s not the complete answer for me.

    Maybe we should rephrase the Ted talk and say “become it till you become it”! Become your own Love, become your own confidence, become your own strength, become your own sweetness – become your own Self! Because, I am through with faking anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this wonderful and thoughtful comment! I totally agree – there’s a huge difference between someone who can return to some sort of pre-trauma personality, and the adoptee whose trauma happened pre-verbally. “Become it till you become it!” – that’s great advice. 🙂 Definitely struggling in that area though!!

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It's lovely to have you here. Please keep comments respectful of the adoptees who read here. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

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