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What is self-identity? The secret to lasting and positive change.

Mar 19, 2021

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to creating lasting change in our lives is self-identity. How we perceive ourselves plays a crucial role in the actions and decisions we take in our day to day lives. Below you'll find a transcription of this coaching video in which I discuss:-

-What is self-identity?
-How to change self-identity
-Self-identity and perception
-Self-perception and our belief system
-How to create lasting change



"In this coaching video I want to talk to you about the concept of Self or Self- identity. It’s an important part of the change process. And plays a part in why many self-help books or courses don’t work or ever create lasting change. So, by watching this video you will understand one of the big blockers to making lasting and positive change in your life.

First of all let’s talk about what self-identity is and why it’s important.

What is self-identity? 

Put very simply self-identity is how we PERCEIVE ourselves in light of all our experiences and achievements in every area of our lives since we were born. Social, cultural, at work, at home, at play – you name it, it’s all part of that big, beautiful melting pot that makes up the jig saw of our lives.

The key word is here PERCEPTION. Because how WE perceive our life is going to be very different to how someone else perceives our life.

In other words how we perceive the STORY of our life is always going to be different to how others perceive that story.

Why is this important? Because how we perceive ourselves ultimately determines EVERY decision we make and EVERYTHING we do in our lives.

 In other words: Our happiness depends on our self-identity.

 Let’s dig a bit deeper.

How to change self-identity

Changing habits, behaviours, achieving goals, or doing any of the good stuff which are required to create purpose and happiness doesn’t just require us to think differently.

Thinking differently, behaving differently, and reacting differently requires us to be different in what we DO, what we SAY, and how we manage our internal experiences.  And most importantly we have to change our habits and behaviours.   

So when we start doing so much to create a new pathway for ourselves, re-write our story if you like,  it would make sense that when we move towards what we want in our lives, who WE are also changes. Or rather who we PERCEIVE ourselves to be. Because that is the point. To live and experience life differently doesn’t require us to change WHO we are. But it does require us to shift our PERCEPTION of ourselves. In other words: We need to shift our self-identity.

So here is a simple example. Let’s say I want to stop smoking. In order to do that I have to shift my identity as a “smoker” to be someone who is a “non-smoker”.

So it isn’t just about stopping smoking, it’s also about shifting my story about who I am in relation to smoking. So, for example, I have to get comfortable with saying ‘I don’t smoke’ when someone offers me a cigarette. I won’t be the same person that stops at the shop on the way to work to buy cigarettes and have a chat with the shop owner. I won’t be the person who stands outside with my usual group of people smoking at break-time. I won’t be that person who starts coughing if I have done some exercise. BUT I will be that person who feels fitter, that person who is saving money every day, that person who doesn’t smell of smoke.

Can you see how your self-concept would need to shift to be successful?

So what is it that makes us, us?

It’s everything that you believe to be true about yourself that has got you to where you are now.

Self-identity and perception

Our self-identity is a construct of how we perceive our achievements, our friendships, in fact our entire social context. And all our life experiences go toward forming our self-identity.

Let me give you an example.  There are hundreds  of thousands of parents of teenage children.  They all do the same job. They bring up their children. The average child will leave school with an average number of qualifications. But some will benchmark their success as parents based on the qualifications obtained by their children. Their self-identity as a parent will be impacted by the achievements of their children in either a positive or negative way.

And so… this forms either a negative or positive belief. “I am a good parent” or “I am a bad parent”.

It is, of course, completely ridiculous to measure your success as a parent based on the achievements of your children, especially given the colossal task that being a parent is. But the truth is, far too many parents carry untrue beliefs that they are a “bad parent”.

This is why having healthy beliefs about who we are and what we are capable of, is so important.

There are two areas of beliefs that I want to explain.

Self-perception and our belief system

Firstly, our outer world beliefs.

These are the beliefs that are external,  so things that  we BELEIVE we might be physically capable of eg “I’m good at swimming”, “I’m a very tidy person” . Our beliefs in our ability to do or make things, what we believe we are good at or not so good at doing.

There may be beliefs that we have, that we ‘think’ we are pre-disposed to.  Such as being ‘big boned’, have allergies, gain weight easily.

Amongst my parent’s generation there was a belief that you were born with “bad nerves”, there are all sorts of random things that women believe they have inherited. And whilst genetic pre-disposition may play a role, our belief system will often trigger this disproportionately.

All these beliefs are formed when we regard them as absolute truths about ourselves.

Secondly, we have our inner beliefs

These are the beliefs that we hold about ourselves inside. So, what we believe our mind or our inner-self is capable of – or not. How resilient or emotional we believe ourselves to be. How brave, confident and courageous we believe we are and also how open we are to new possibilities and perspectives in life.

I’m sure you will have come across people who have a very tight inner and outer belief system about themselves and the world?

You will hear phrases like ‘that’s me, take me or leave me’, or ‘We are all going to hell in a hand cart, nothing will change’.

So you can see how our beliefs form about who we are. And so it makes sense that when we start changing our beliefs we fundamentally change who we are – often for the better!

As you start to shift and expand your self-concept and change your beliefs about your capability and what you want for yourself, you will also start to change your habits, maybe your lifestyle and all other sorts of things you used to do.

You will be so much more aware of only doing things that take you where you want to go and be less tolerant of things that keep you down or stuck.

How to create lasting change

So shifting who we are is an important part of creating successful long lasting change. Because if we don’t we can easily revert back to the old stuff, habits and behaviours.

You wouldn’t be the only person who has struggled to look at herself, and I mean really look what lies deep within us. Sometimes that is scary and we fear the unknown. However removing all the limitations of what you believe you are capable of is the key to freedom and our endless potential. The first step is being aware and acknowledging what they are.

I always remind people that when we are born we are only programmed to be scared of two things, loud noises and falling – which means everything else you are fearful of has been either taught to  you or you have learned through experience.

The good thing about this concept is that we can easily ‘unlearn’ thought processes as well as learn new thought processes which are healthier.

Perhaps you are now wondering how hard it is to get rid of some of those beliefs that you’ve held for a long time and start shifting your identity of who you are.

How about if I told you that it may be easier than you think?

The amount of time that you have held a belief or habit does not dictate how hard or long it will be to shift it. I’ve had clients shift deeply embedded beliefs overnight, and some have taken longer – so I want you to be completely open to the idea that yours will shift quickly too. It’s amazing how our brains work.

I would also like you to open yourself to the concept of infinite possibilities, because if you were able to re-write some of who  you are how would you like to describe yourself? What dreams have you had for yourself (regardless of how attainable you believe them to be). This is a wonderful opportunity to expand and build on your own view of you…… and create the self-identity that you ­­­­­ always wanted.

There is a short worksheet  with this video where I would like you to jot down what you think your self-identity is….. and then I would like you to write down what you would like it to be.  This maybe something that you add to in the future so don’t rush it. It will develop and expand as you move into the freedom of being you.

So at the end of the exercise you will have created what you want your self-identity to be, let go of things that don’t fit into your picture anymore, and have added new things that take you into the direction that you want to go.

We don’t often stop to upgrade the view that we have of ourselves, despite all the experience, all the learning and skills that we have developed over the years. And we don’t often stop to check in with those old beliefs about whether they are true or not given the amount of evidence we may have built over all those years.

Now is the time to upgrade who you believe yourself to be. Now is the time to be the best you."

This video comes with worksheets. Download by clicking here. 

Want more?

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