I was listening to Jeff Warren this week, one of my favorite meditation teachers, and he was talking about discovering his ADHD diagnosis in adulthood and how helpful it has been. Then he said something really beautiful, something like, “But as I’ve practiced meditation over time, I’ve also realized that the inner witness, the one who is watching, does not have ADHD. I have experienced a kind of empowered disidentification with my diagnosis.”

Empowered disidentification. This stopped me in my tracks.

It is always so tempting to label ourselves or others. We have PTSD. We have ADHD or identify as a Highly Sensitive Person or in the Autism Constellation. Or we are ENFJ, an Enneagram 7. We are white or a woman, a dog person or an introvert.

Many of our identities come with more or less power, and we can’t pretend like there are not consequences–even deadly consequences. Whole systems of oppression are maintained on the basis of class, race, gender, sexuality, nationality, ability, age, religion, and much more, and the discrimination people face on the basis of those is terrifyingly real.


My inner witness, the one who is watching, is not a woman. The inner witness is not a mother, a coach or consultant, or from a middle-class Christian family. Not menopausal or married, outgoing or distractible. My inner witness has, in fact, become bored with the constant need to contend that they are this thing or that thing, or that others are this way or that way.

I will never stop being fascinated by who we are and how we are shaped by our ancestors, cultures, values, personalities, neurobiology, and political realities. Each of us is both a universe unto ourselves and bound by the sameness of our humanity. And yet, we can still experience empowered disidentification. We can take a break from selling our brand, from the marketing plan we’ve been on our whole lives. The longer we know ourselves, we more we can let go of all the labels and diagnoses we’ve collected, understanding that they are real, but not the most real things about us.

Of course, the worry is, “What will be left?” I am very drawn to people who are finding out. Ram Dass said, “Everybody is playing with their stories, who they think they are. It’s more fun to just witness it all. To be in the environment in which it’s all happening.” What a grand adventure! As always, thank you for reading, and I am always fascinated by hearing about wherever your adventure is leading you.