Your “Identity” is a factor of who you are and what you think/do. This sounds pretty obvious, but this begs the question “What if I am not happy with who I am?”
Most people face this question within their lives at some point. The existential realization that, maybe, we aren’t making the best use of our time becomes a severe wake-up call for the remainders of our lives.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the owner of a multimillion-dollar real-estate investing company on what happiness meant to him and how he views his employees. He noted that having a set identity gave him power over how others perceived him. He stated, “every employee I have can teach me something I don’t already know” and that “We will always die not knowing everything.”
Very humble words. Ultimately we have no choice but to agree. Our identities are based on who we think we are, and can only be affected by how others think we are if we allow those thoughts to influence our mindsets.
This is empowering because we can choose to take full responsibility for the way we behave, without the ability to make excuses based on our intrinsic “natures” as people. I can choose how to live my life in a way that is fulfilling to me despite the misaligned visions of how others perceive me. It isn’t easy to do, but I can change who I am and how I behave overnight simply by choosing to do so.
We are functions of our actions, change your actions and you can change who you are, whether or not you believe in those actions in the first place.
This is essentially described in the adage “fake it til’ you make it.” But there is a distinction in the way you should use this advice to form beneficial and improved self-identities.
Never fake an identity with the intention to deceive. Always fake an identity with the intention of taking actions that will benefit your self-image.
Here is the difference in an example: Placing false achievements on my resume in order to land a job is “faking to deceive”. But, taking actions that are not originally part of my current “identity” is beneficial to implementing a new and improved “me”, depending on the specifics of the actions of course.
Perhaps the old me believes that I am worthless, performing actions that designate high feelings of self-worth can essentially be “faking it” until I start to believe in those actions. We often have thoughts that don’t truly translate properly into our actions. We should go to the gym but often we don’t. We should not procrastinate, but we still do.
Taking action despite your thoughts, and for a long enough time, can implement a renewed identity within you, one that becomes contingent on completing the action. Going to the gym consistently will start to alter my identity in my own mind. I now identify with being a consistent gym-goer, and can now benefit from the habit that becomes part of my identity.
Separating your identity from your non-beneficial habits is the single most important thing you can do this instant to improve your life.
Try this, take some time to describe who you are.
What do you do?
What is it that you feel defines you as an individual?
Are all of the things you listed beneficial to you?
Did you leave anything out that you identify with and believe about yourself but perhaps wish that you didn’t?
We often look at the best sides of ourselves, yet perceive the “realistic” sides of others. Being neutral and introspective about your strengths and weaknesses allows you to alter your identity entirely to your benefit.
List out your top 10 values, and number them in order of importance from 1-10 (1 being most important). Consider all the values that you have listed and determine what kind of person lives these values?
What kind of decisions would they make in their everyday lives that you don’t?
How can you make more of these decisions, or recognize the opportunities to do so?
Consider taking a week out of your life to write down a log of your actions. Measure those actions and considerations against the opportunity costs of making different decisions.
For example, if I find that I consistently judge others without trying to understand their situation, I can make an attempt to irradicate judgmental thoughts and implement curious ones that don’t presuppose my biases. Doing so would aid me in being entirely less judgmental, more openly curious and interested in the lives of others, and likely more helpful to them as well!
Honesty is about your perceived truth and taking a dive into which of your feelings is filtering your thoughts can make the world of a difference to you and your own self-awareness.
Heres another way to alter your identity for the better. Have you ever met someone that was genuinely attractive as a person? I don’t mean good-looking attractive, I mean personality-wise. Is there someone you know or have met who seems to gather others around them without even trying?
If you have someone in mind, consider how they act and the way they must think about the world. Often, the people that I meet who behave this way have what is usually called “abundancy mindsets.” They find abundance in the resources of the world, happiness, and achievements. They rarely compare themselves with others who may be doing things that they have not done. They applaud the achievements of others, they focus on garnering their own happiness, and do so without the idea that happiness is a scarce and competitive resource.
Comparisons breed judgments. And the best way to implement a new identity that fulfills you is to take full accountability for all your life is and ever was. Doing so puts you in the proper mindset to quit judgments and take action towards your own happiness.
Develop discipline by taking action towards all the “should-dos” in your life without allowing your current identity to dissuade you from them. Develop a daydream or fantasy about how your life should look like to you if it was “perfect”.
Who are you in this life?
What do you need to do to cultivate it?
Are you happy or only content?
Your identity should be more about how you view yourself as opposed to how others view you, this is because you should learn to be happy with yourself, and your happiness should not be contingent on the thoughts of others.
Codependency occurs when you place your own happiness in the hands of others, avoid it at all costs. If you develop self-love in the form of a renewed identity, you will have your best friend with you wherever you go and for the rest of your life.