A friend was recounting a story about his grandmother changing personality at times. In one identity she was frail and weak, barely able to walk. In the other identity she was able to carry two heavy gas canisters on each shoulder.
In response, I relayed a story of how I used to play soccer with a group of seniors, aged 60 to 90 (!). Some of them had difficulty walking. Some held on to rails. But when they were on the playing field, it was as if they had changed identity. They ran quick as rabbits. When it came to scoring, their limp mysteriously vanished.
In my 2006 book Parallel Universes of Self, I ascribe reality shifts to changes in Identity. If you can shift self-image, you shift what you experience. I also wrote about Multiple Personality Disorder and how patients radically change, depending on which Identity they are occupying.
My friend telling me about his grandmother, triggered another, less pleasant memory of my grandmother changing her personality. It was a forgotten memory until that moment. How could I have forgotten? I hadn’t even remembered while writing “Parallel Universes of Self”. How expert we are at repressing unattractive truths!
As a child I sometimes stayed overnight at my grandmothers. I enjoyed that. But at sometimes, her personality changed. There was a side she never showed on family visits in the daytime. In those strange hours, there was a different presence permeating the house and it terrified me. When she went into this persona, she quit talking or showing any interest in me. Looking at her face I saw “my grandmother” was no longer there. How unsettling! It felt like a man had entered her body and not just any man, but one filled with silent rage. When it happened, I’d usually retreat to the bedroom and pretend to be sleeping. “Grandmother” would then engage in uncharacteristic activities. Instead of sitting in her reclining chair watching TV or reading a book, she’d wander around the house and rummage through shelves and closets, as if looking for something.
What is going on here? Just a child’s imagination run wild? I don’t think so. The presence was alien, nothing like my grandmother. When the presence arrived, I could feel it before I even saw her. She might be in another room and I knew she was no longer herself before she entered the room I was in. She wouldn’t say a word, wouldn’t smile, wouldn’t interact. In her normal state, she talked to me at length about History, World Events and the Family. But under the weird spell, she ceased all communication and wouldn’t even tuck me in or say goodnight.
Insight: Both entity possession and identity shifting, as I teach it in my coaching, give you a new personality and new skills. Either can provide superhuman strength or unusual ability. In fact, one day before writing this article, I had to use the technique. I was kayaking out in the open ocean, but the weather had changed. The waters had become difficult to navigate. As I am not experienced in kayaking, I felt unsettled. To quell my fears and make it out of the waters alive, I had to shift my identity. I imagined myself to be an experienced man of the sea, who had spent his entire lifetime in kayaks and boats. The identity shift helped me find the calm to return to safety.
And that’s the difference between identity-shifting and multiple personality disorder or entity possession. Identity-Shifting is deliberate. It’s consciously chosen.
I have walked over hot coals without burning my feet or getting blisters. That was at a Tony Robbins Seminar I attended more than a quarter century ago (how time flies!). I achieved the state by imagining I am made of Ice and the hot coals are made of ice. I stomped my feet to the music, imagining the ice for twenty minutes, before venturing on to the hot coals.
But I’ve also seen a woman eat hot coal, without getting any burns or blisters on her face. This was at a festival in North Africa. But the situation was much less inspiring than me walking over hot coal. She was not being herself and was not eating the hot coal voluntarily and everyone could tell. People were appalled. Her eyes kept rolling out of her eye sockets and she made horrific gurgling noises. That’s entity possession.
Is it in fact entity possession or MPD? Is there a difference? I don’t know. Those are just two different labels to describe a very real phenomenon. One is a spiritual label, the other is a medical label.
What I do know is that a shift in Identity creates remarkable changes. Those blind can see, those poor become rich, those fearful become fearless. But consciously choosing a new identity, vs. having a foreign id-entity take over are on two opposite ends of the spectrum of empowerment.