I remember a client working in sales saying to me, ‘But I’m not a sales person.’ Imagine the affect of not identifying with what we are doing in the world? Another example, someone attempting to quit smoking while saying, ‘But deep down inside I’m really am a smoker.” Can you see how undermining identity issues can be to something we are trying to accomplish? Or how important aligning our identity with our values can be? To distill it, there is real value in taking the time to know who we are…or who we think we are. In other words, what is the story you tell yourself about who you are?
The challenge is that day-to-day, noticing our identity is like a fish noticing water. It’s something we are generally unconscious about. Yet, we have a sense of identity about all areas: career, relationships, the region we live in, habits and patterns, and of course, our personal self-image.
There can be a variety of areas this topic can fall into, there are also countless meanings and solutions behind it. It’s possible that a person is not identifying because who they really are doesn’t fit and they need to make some changes. A person can also feel this way because they have gone for something they want but they haven’t grown into it yet. Maybe they are ready for a change and this identity experience is just part of the transition? Another possibility is that since we have many different aspects of our personalities maybe one part of us does identify but another part of us feels ambivalent. Whatever the case…looking more deeply at ourselves will always be worthwhile.
Some aspects of identity are determined by our personality, which psychologists know is in large part fixed when we are born. Other facets of identity come about as we are raised, through out relationships, and our environments. There are areas of identity that we can change and there are areas we cannot. Those malleable areas can use a spring-cleaning now and again. This is something I work with clients around. This in part involves looking through our beliefs about ourselves and making sure they are up to date, aligned with our values, and feel accurate.
If you’re up for it, a short version of this can be explored answering the following questions for yourself. You can answer them in general and you can also apply them to a goal or a change you are attempting to make.
Take out a piece of paper and begin this the simple question: Who are you? When you come up with an answer, write it down, and ask yourself again, Who are you? You can do this for quite a while seeing what comes up. What sort of person are you? What do your life aims say about who you are? What do your choices in day-to-day life say about who you are? What does your lifestyle tell others about who you are? Spend as much time on this as you desire. Who are you really?
Think of the successful people you know. Is there any question about how they identify in the world? Do you wonder who they are really? No, you know…it’s written all over them. The point is not to force ourselves into an identity. First and foremost we have to hone in our values, goals, desires, archetypes, and symbols. If this sounds daunting, it’s time to get a coach who can make the process fun. Discovering all of who you really are is truly the adventure of a lifetime. You have to bring in your thinking mind but also your creative self, your body, and your heart too. Then, with these ideas in place we can work on actively developing a strong sense of identity. One that roots you in what you are moving towards. An identity that matches who you are in the world, what you do, and what you deliver.