Who are you? Do you really know? And do you believe you get to define who you are? Because you do. That power is all within you; it is within every one of us. The problem is that most of us don’t believe that.
It scares us to think that we have that much power. It is much easier to blame others for our life not being what we want it to be.
We form and shape our identities, by the things we do, the stories we tell ourselves about why we do those things, and by taking feedback from the people that surround us. We put labels on ourselves, based on the experiences that we have and how we interpret those experiences.
For example, maybe you put off doing the workout that you had intended to do. By doing that, you are sending yourself a message, a point of data. You are reinforcing the narrative that you are not someone that works out regularly, that you are not someone that keeps the commitments you made to yourself. Conversely, if you do the workout, even if you don’t feel like doing it, you are sending a clear message to yourself that you are someone that values exercise, and that you are the type of person who resolves to do something and then does it.
Your actions help shape your identity. And your identity helps shape your actions, because the more you feel you are the type of person who behaves in a certain way, the more likely you are to behave that way. Basically, there is a feedback loop between action and identity. This is an idea that James Clear popularized in his amazing book, Atomic Habits.
This means that the labels that you give yourself matter; you can change them and by doing so, you can change your life. You are the author of the story of your life. Might as well make it an interesting story.
Stop using the words “I am ____” to describe yourself when referencing a way that you would prefer not to be. Instead, start describing yourself as how you wish to be. Follow the adage to “fake it until you make it”. Once you tell yourself that you are a certain way, and then back that up with an action to support it, you start to build a new narrative for yourself. And then you do the same thing tomorrow. And the day after that. Day by day, bit by bit, you grow into the person who you wish to be.
Remove the negative labels, which will allow you space to learn new things and forge a new identity. That is how you improve your life. Day by day, action by action.
Commit to becoming who you might become, if only you could dare.
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