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PodcastIdentity Crisis

Identity Crisis

Our identities often feel linked to our jobs, and that can cause a lot of anxiety about work performance. Today, Dora talks about how to create space between who we are and what we do for a paycheck.

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(mouse clicks) (bright music) Headspace Studio. Hey friends, it's Dora, and welcome back to the Sunday Scaries. So when I first moved to the US from Canada, I noticed that every time I met someone new, we'd smile, introduce ourselves, and then like clockwork, the other person would ask, "So what do you do?" Likewise, when I was hanging out with friends, I started noticing that a lot of our conversations would revolve around work. Bosses, promotions, colleagues, successes, failures, the drama of it all. When I lived in Canada, I can't recall talking this much about work. Even when meeting a brand new person, I'd asked someone where they grew up or what their family was like or what books they were reading. When I was up with friends, we'd talk about our latest adventures, things happening in the news, or random facts or stories we've heard. It became really clear to me that people placed a different value on work in America. And by that, I mean, work defines a lot of people here. Now I can only speak for LA where I'm living, but in many cases, it feels like your job is your identity. Your profession is entangled with your personality, and sometimes even your purpose. And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that work shouldn't be something we invest ourselves in. Work makes us feel productive and useful. We spend a lot of our waking life doing it and many people like or even love what they do. And that's a beautiful thing. But for me, every time someone asked me, "What do you do? Where do you work?" before asking me anything else like how I was doing, I felt confined, limited. I felt objectified. Like I was being evaluated based on what I could do for them or what connections I had. Those conversations seemed less about me as a person and I'm so much more than what I do. So this brings me to Sundays. The Sunday Scaries always seem to come back to feelings of anxiety. And often this anxiety revolves around work. But how much worse are the Sunday Scaries if your job is intertwined with your sense of identity? When we feel like we are our job, it raises the stakes even more at work. For example, if we mess up at work, which will happen to all of us at some point, we may feel like we are the mistake and whatever hiccups occur are a reflection of us as people. That means Sunday becomes a day in which you aren't just worried about your job, you're worried about yourself. And if you feel like your job is your identity, you're leaving your worth in value in the hands of others, which is a risky game to play. So how do we alleviate this all-consuming pressure surrounding our work and create a bit of space in between who we are and what we do. First, I know...


Duration10 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

    More about Kessonga
  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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