Our identity shapes our life in many ways. It influences how we see ourselves, how we interact with others, and the decisions we make. Here are a few ways that our identity can shape our life:
- Self-perception: Our identity plays a role in how we see ourselves and how we view our strengths and weaknesses. It influences our self-confidence and self-esteem, and can affect how we approach challenges and opportunities.
- Relationships: Our identity can also shape our relationships with others. It influences how we present ourselves to others and how we interact with them. It can also impact the types of relationships we form and the roles we play in those relationships.
- Decision-making: Our identity can also influence the decisions we make in life. It can shape our values, goals, and priorities, and influence the paths we choose to pursue.
- Personal growth: Our identity can also shape our personal growth and development. It can influence the areas we choose to focus on and the ways in which we seek to improve ourselves.
Author Maxwell Maltz said ““You can never outperform your own self-image.”
Which means, in order to change who we are or something about ourselves, we need to first change that identity we have about ourselves.
So let’s start.
Pick an identity right that you’ve often used to describe yourself – “I am always late”, “I can never lose weight”, “I always break my New Year’s Resolutions”, I’m just bad when it comes to math”, or “I can’t commit to new routine”, etc.
Now, I’d like you to think of all the words, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and actions that have helped to cement this identity.
Let’s use the example of “I can never lose weight” as this is one I certainly have struggled with in the past.
What words do you use with this example? How do you talk about yourself? Do you talk down to yourself? Do you downplay it? Write down all the words you use to describe this example.
What thoughts follow from this? If you think you can never lose weight, how does it impact you in situations like going to a restaurant or a party, working out, seeing other skinny or overweight people? Trying new things? Going on adventures?
What beliefs do you invest in from “I can never lose weight?” How does this impact your life? What decisions do you end up making or not making? What builds on this belief?
What feelings arise when you think of that identity? How does it change your life? What do those feelings bring up for you? Do you feel despondent? Do you feel like you are wasting your time to even try as you will just fail anyway? So why bother trying? Do you feel bad about yourself?
If you feel bad about yourself you won’t be motivated to make the choices that make you feel better. You are more likely to go in fits and starts or engage in unhealthy behaviours such as excessive exercise or restrictive eating or bingeing.
This thought loop drives the actions you are ultimately taking. It creates repeated actions which become habits which then create the reality that you are experiencing. Everything starts with a thought first. We speak words that we add a meaning too – good or bad, they then become our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and actions.
Ok, so now that we can see this pattern that starts with the words we say to ourselves, we can change it to what we want it to be.
We have to build the identity of who we want to be and speak only those words into thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions and ultimately this becomes our new identity.
So, as a person who has no longer has a weight issue what words would you say about yourself?
Healthy, confident, slim, look great in my clothes, I am fit, I love walking in nature, I love meeting with my friends at restaurants and making them the focus. I like exercising and building a strong body.
What thoughts do you think?
I am healthy, I am fit, I make good choices around food, I focus on my conversations with my friends, I am committed to my health not my weight, I am committed to making choices that are good for me. I like to make good choices for my life. I want to live for a long time. I want to see my daughter get married, I want to see my grandchildren. I want to be able to walk for an hour easily. I honour my body. I want a strong body, its the only one I have. I want to look after my body.
What feelings do you experience?
I feel good about myself. I feel proud of what I am accomplishing. I like that I committed to me. I like that I don’t give up. I like the feeling of sticking to my choices. I like that I am seeing this through.
What beliefs do you have?
I believe I am a healthy person, I believe I can do this. I believe I can make changes. I believe that I can see through my commitments.
And what actions can you take from this identity everyday towards your goals?
I can make good food choices, I can commit to a movement practice, I can be conscious when deciding about food choices, I can be committed to my new identity of who I am -someone who wants to take care of their health and fitness.
It’s really this simple. Our brain likes to conserve energy and will always look for the easiest familiar route to EVERYTHING. Our old habits or ways are always the familiar easy route, however, those lead back to identity of what you are not liking.