We all have an image of ourselves, some belief of who we are and what we’re like. At some point we internalised that conviction. Maybe we believed what our parents, teachers or relatives often told us in the past. Perhaps we came to the conclusion ourselves, based on our own life experiences. That belief translated into an identity. “I’m (just) …” (fill it in for yourself).

Identity is powerful

Identity is very powerful. If you think you’re something or someone, your beliefs, the behaviour you exhibit and the words you use are entirely related to that identity. You are convinced that’s who you ‘are’, you radiate it in all directions. People who are convinced they have little self confidence will always ‘do’ things that show they have little self confidence. Not being able to get their words out properly, or stammering when they have to speak in front of a group. People who think they’re lazy will always ‘be’ lazy. They don’t feel like doing anything, exercise little and probably move slowly. People who consider themselves strong will also ‘behave’ as if they’re strong. They show as few emotions as possible, use tough language and even wear tough clothes. The same goes for all identities that you make your own. People who are convinced they’re very successful, have loads of self confidence or who consider themselves beautiful, also find that their identity guides their behaviour and the words they use. Sound familiar?

Internalising a new identity

“It’s just who I am.” is a saying you often hear when dealing with identity. We also refer to it as ‘character’. The good news is that it’s not true at all. Our brains can change: that’s what happens when we learn or teach ourselves something new. You once made this identity your own, so you can give yourself a new identity too. Why would you hold onto something you once believed about yourself that’s no longer realistic and may even hinder you these days? Try thinking the opposite of what you think about yourself now. Perhaps you think: “I’m (just) stupid/fat/ugly.” Instead, think: “I’m smart/slim/beautiful.” Tell yourself the thing you need to hear a few times a day, out loud or in your head. Write it down on a Post-it Note or in your diary.

Time and practice

Redefining yourself – giving yourself a new identity – takes time and practice. This applies to any kind of change. In the beginning, it will feel as if it doesn’t suit you, like an ill-fitting jacket. That’s true, because you never thought of yourself that way before. It’s important to keep at it, to integrate it. Maybe you’ll find inspiring examples in people around you who have been through such a change themselves, and you’ll be able to take the first step! Do you need help redefining yourself? Then make an appointment through the Contact page.