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What Beliefs Do You Have About Your Identity?

April 14, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 148

What is identity? The dictionary definition is "the fact of being who or what a person or thing is" but how does this affect who we are, what we believe and how we think, feel and act?

Everyone has beliefs about most things and people and some of these are called core beliefs, which are the very essence of how we see ourselves, other people, the world and the future. Core beliefs are very powerful and act as a filter to all our perceptions and, as a result, directly control the uniformity of our life's decisions. Our identity is determined by this core belief and defines our individuality and is what makes us different, including those elements that good, bad or indifferent, and separates us from all others.

In addition, our identity is what generates our boundaries and limits within which we live our lives. Each and every one of us has capabilities but just how much of these capabilities we use is dependent upon the identity we have set for ourselves. As a coach, I see many clients who say to me "I am depressed" or "I am not confident" or "I am a failure". What they are actually doing is defining themselves and, therefore, limiting their possibilities to be anything other than the label they have given themselves. Many times I am told "I am who I am" and become defensive when I challenge their view or beliefs of who they are. Because they are focusing on an unhelpful or un-resourceful identity they will get more of what they are already getting. What is also true is that if you see yourself, for example, as depressed so too will other people see you this way and this reinforces the identity of the individual.

Whether or not our view of ourselves is accurate, we will act consistently within the boundaries and limits we have set ourselves within our identity. Humans crave consistency and this causes us to act out this identity regardless of what the personal cost may be. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, we get what we focus on. In the case of the depressed client, the focus is on being depressed and hey presto this is what he gets, more depression. A better way of defining himself would be say that "I'm a normal person who is going through some mental health challenges at the moment".

So, if humans crave consistency, the same strategy works equally well IF you can change your beliefs about your identity and the strategies that you use to break the current boundaries and limits and reach your true capabilities. However, changing our beliefs about our identity is not easy, in some cases the old identity has become their comfort zone, a place of safety, albeit with negative consequences, and changing will take away this sense of consistency and take them to, initially, a place of confusion and pain. After all, if we question our identity we have to question all the beliefs we currently hold true, beliefs that we may have held for a long time and even built our lives upon and around.

So, if the current identity is unhelpful what is the new identity and how do we get there? As I mentioned above, changing the words we use to describe who we are is the first, and most important step to make. "I am a person who is currently facing some mental health challenges" is far more resourceful than "I am depressed". There is an intrinsic link between who we see ourselves as and our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Who we see ourselves as is controlled by our beliefs and creating a belief that you are a person with mental health challenges will create new beliefs about who you are and then our behaviours will change to support this new belief. This identity change will allow us to generate long-term psychological and physiological changes that are consistent with the new identity.

Reformulating, altering or expanding your personal identity can deliver astounding, quick and lasting improvements in the quality of your life.

Steve Scott is a leading author who specialises in business and executive coaching. You can try his unique coaching programme, FREE at his business and executive coaching website at http://www.stepping-stones-coaching.com or he can also be contacted at steve@stepping-stones-coaching.com.

Source: EzineArticles
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