I remember it like it was yesterday.
It was January 2016, and the air was filled with excitement and enthusiasm. The novelty of a new year had come again. This meant countless people declaring their New Years resolutions of what they swore they’re going to accomplish this year.
I was no different.
I had just turned 31, and at a point where my reality wasn’t what I expected it to be. It seemed I was further away from my goals being accomplished, and life how I had envisioned it at this age wasn’t going according to plan.
As if that wasn’t bad enough it seemed everyone my age, who I knew, was making progress in one way or another in their lives, and I wasn’t.
“What’s wrong with me?” I thought.
I was feeling hopeless, and feeling helpless to do anything about it.
To be honest I also felt ashamed and disappointed in myself, because I knew I was more than what my current reality was showing.
I knew I had to change me to change things, I just didn’t know exactly how to do it at the time. I didn’t understand the process and psychology of change, not as I do now.
At the very least I knew what held me back was inconsistency and lack of discipline. I had struggled with both all my life, but I was sick and tired of allowing both to hold me back any longer.
It was in that moment I made the decision to work tirelessly on developing greater consistency and discipline in my life.
Does this sound familiar?
Have you ever tried turning your life around, breaking a bad habit, or developing greater discipline in your life? But for some reason you never seem to get it right, or it never seems to last?
Even when you start to make progress, you somehow end up right back where you started (or worse).
One of the main reasons I’ve realized that held me back, and hold others back as well is because of our Identity.
Now when I say your Identity here’s what I mean, your Identity is who you believe you are, and what you believe you are capable of (or not capable of).
In other words if you believe you are a procrastinator, then you’ll think all you do is procrastinate.
If you believe you are undisciplined, then you will think you are only capable of undisciplined behaviour in your life.
This belief often times is unconscious, meaning you’re unaware of it. It determines your actions and behaviour in particular situations, which then dictates the outcomes of your life.
The Reason Your Identity Makes Change Hard
How your Identity was formed is through your belief system.
You had certain experiences and was socialized a particular way, which caused you to have views about yourself (your beliefs). This view made you respond to the world in a particular way, which lead to a particular outcome.
The outcome became like a seed deeply planted in your mind, introducing the idea that this is who you are, based on that outcome. The unfortunate part is the idea of who you are often times is negative and disempowering.
When placed in the same or similar situation, your subconscious mind recalls how you responded to this situation before, and makes you to respond the same again. It reinforces the seed planted, through getting the same result, and through your self talk (“this is who I am based on the outcome“).
The entire process is repeated until the seed germinates and grows into a fully developed tree. This fully developed tree becomes your Identity. It dictates that you respond the same way in the same situation in the future.
It’s easier to dig up a seed or a seedling that has been recently planted, than it is to dig up a fully grown tree, with roots tens of feet into the ground, which has been growing for years, even decades.
In other words the more fully developed your Identity is (positive or negative), the harder it will be to change.
This is why people who may be lazy or shy, or more destructive extremes such as being an alcoholic, may not necessarily be that way. It’s simply the belief about themselves (their Identity), they have accepted as true. It’s the Identity that has fully grown, and is deeply rooted in their subconscious.
Fortunately, your Identity isn’t set in stone. It can be changed if you understand how the mind works, and how to implement the right strategies.
Creating a More Empowering Identity to Create a Better Reality
Now that we’ve broken down the problem, let’s talk about the step-by-step process of changing your negative Identity, and creating a more empowering one that serves you.
Become Aware of Your Current Identity
The first step is to become aware of what your current Identity is. Take time to think about how you seem to react and respond in most situations, which doesn’t serve you.
Are you someone who tends to procrastinate a lot?
Are you someone who tends to be undisciplined in several areas of your life?
Do you tend to allow fear and anxiety to dictate your life decisions?
This is important as the first step to solving any problem is to become aware you have a problem in the first place.
Acknowledge Your Current Identity
Next acknowledge that there is a problem and it needs to be fixed.
This requires a bit of honesty with yourself. It will be difficult because as human beings we always want to see ourselves as better and more together than we really are. However, being delusional won’t change anything.
It’s important to admit to yourself that this is who you have become, but this is not who you intend to remain.
Create Your New Identity
The next step is to think about your new positive and empowering Identity you would like to create.
To do this think about some of the words you’d like others to use to describe the new empowered you. Words such as Confident, Positive, Hard Working, Diligent, etc. You decide the words you want to use that will describe how others see you, but most importantly how you see yourself.
Next create a persona or person that is to become the new embodiment of you.
What I mean by that is often when I work to coach others, I tell them to create a name of their new selves they want to become. It can be something like Greg The Confident, or Trish The Brave.
When I wanted to develop greater consistency and discipline in my life the name I created was The Master of Consistency. This is how I was able to develop greater discipline in my workout routine and life.
It sounds silly in thought, but it’s key to this entire process. The reason is you want an image of your new self that you can imagine and hold on to. The brain works best when it has something it’s working towards becoming or achieving.
Think of it as water and nutrients to the new seed (your empowering Identity), that you are creating, to help it grow and fully develop.
Replace the Old Identity
The next thing you have to do is replace the old Identity. You have to chop that tree down and burn it!
Two conflicting Identities can’t occupy the same space. You can’t be lazy and hardworking at the same time. It will create opposing forces in your mind, and will confuse the brain. Plus, the old Identity, if not kept in check, will sprout new shoots and grow, destroying the new Identity you have created.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Interrupt and negate the old Identity. By this I mean identify the negative behaviours that is associated with the negative Identity. For example, if you see yourself as a procrastinator then the behaviour is you procrastinate.
Therefore, to interrupt and negate it repeat “I am someone who never procrastinates!”
Next affirm your new Identity by saying “I am someone who takes action with urgency!”
So now putting everything together, repeat “I am someone who never procrastinates! I am someone who takes action with urgency!”
Say this 5 times in the morning when you wake up. If you can say it even more throughout your day that would be better as it will speed up the process of cementing the new Identity.
2. Take action immediately. This only works if you act on what you affirmed. Words alone aren’t enough to make the change believable to your subconscious, it needs to be reinforced through action.
3. Celebrate and congratulate yourself for taking action. This creates positive feelings that makes you want to continue taking action.
4. Reaffirm your new Identity. This is important as it recalls and brings to the attention of your subconscious that you followed through, and are serious about creating your new Identity.
Think of it this way: You have the seed, the affirmations are the water to the seed, action is the nutrients, and reaffirming your new Identity is the sun, the final element to help the seed grow and flourish.
To do this simply repeat “(your name in third person) you truly are someone who never procrastinates! You truly take action with urgency!”
For this process to truly be effective I would recommend doing this every day for 30 days starting out. 30 days won’t be enough to replace 30 years of a disempowering Identity. However, it will be enough for you to start feeling and seeing yourself as this new Identity. Your behaviours will start to adjust to this new Identity, and this starts the process of getting new outcomes for your life, and creating a new and better reality for yourself.
It’s a challenging process to break down an old, negative, and disempowering belief and Identity to create a new empowering one that serves you.
It takes work and it takes consistent action over time. It won’t be easy to do, but with patience, and following the steps outlined in this article, I’m very positive that you’ll start to see the change in yourself and your life that you desire.
To your success my friend!
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