I have an interesting story to share with you. If you’ve been engaging with me for a while you know that one of the topics I’m most passionate about discussing is how this thing we call “I” – our identity – is fluid and ever-changing. We avoid cognitive dissonance (when our beliefs are misaligned with our behaviours) when we’re mindful of these shifts and curiously ask ourselves, “how do I want to be today?” rather than fixating on notions of who we already are.
So… that’s a bit of a prelude to contextualise my recent experience. If you’ve met me in the past 14 years, you know that I typically adorn a lip ring. I’ve always found it attractive. People have asked me if it gets in the way or hurts and I’ve honestly responded “Not at all. I hardly even notice it’s there until I look in the mirror.” And on the occasions I look at myself in the mirror, I like the way my face looks with that tiny glimmer of silver on my lip, so it didn’t matter to me that others often didn’t share that view.
A few weeks ago, for the first time, my lip ring began annoying me. It felt uncomfortable. I took it out and left it out for a week, washed it and put it back in. It felt foreign in my face and like it didn’t belong there. During the week I had it out, rather than feeling like my face looked plain and like something was missing, I actually liked the way I looked without it. And that felt strange to me, because it was novel.
“I think my body is giving me feedback that my lip ring isn’t congruent anymore,” I told one of my friends. She said that often people get piercings on acupuncture points as a form of self medicating and that when it heals, the body rejects the piercing.
I saw my acupuncturist the next day and asked him what area of the body that point was related to and he told me it was the coccyx bone. Now here’s where it gets really freaky: during my first suicide attempt when I was 12 and jumped out of my bedroom window in a fit of adolescent angst, I injured my coccyx bone. It was shortly thereafter, when I was 13 or 14 that I started really wanting a lip ring. I waited until I was 18 – the first weekend I moved out of my parents’ house – out of respect for them because they didn’t approve of my decision.
So here I am, 32 years old and perhaps the injury that I had 20 years prior has fully healed itself. And I’m adjusting to seeing my face in the mirror without a facial piercing. I used to see it as a point of difference – a way to be less ordinary, I suppose. And perhaps that isn’t relevant any longer…
I know that our whole being is one interconnected system and shifts in one aspect show up in the others. My chiropractor (who happens to be the chiro on call for Tony Robbins when he is in town) has even said to me ‘You know how I know your stuff works? Your body is always changing.’ Still, I find myself dumbfounded and awestruck by this whole experience.
Well, in the wise words of my main man Lao Tzu: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
P.S. At my business referral network I recently gave a short talk on the topic of identity and how it can limit us or liberate us… Check it out here.