As part of my daily personal development routine I am currently reading the book “Better than Before” by Gretchen Rubin. In this book, Rubin outlines specific strategies in order to form and maintain habits. One of the chapters I read today outlined the strategy of Identity. Something that I have been struggling with a lot recently. Being a twenty-two year old, it is definitely not something that I am alone in struggling with. Being in your twenties is one of the more difficult times of your life (or so all the adults in my life tell me), but I have always been the person who had everything figured out.
A lot of people struggle with forming habits because they have such a strong sense of identity that unconsciously they refuse to change, even if it would be beneficial for them. For the longest time I identified myself as someone who loves food, and enjoys carbs way too much to go on a “diet”. Then I hit rock bottom in my self-love and I changed that habit but defining myself as a health and fitness coach. I now know that I NEEDED to sign up as a coach, as opposed to a client, because it allowed me to change my identity and therefore, change my habit.
Another thing I struggled with up until a couple months ago, was the fact that I identified as analytical. This identity caused me to hinder a lot of my personal growth. I was reluctant to dive deep into meditation (even though I could see it was helping me), I was afraid to lower my dosage of antidepressants, and I was afraid to admit that I liked learning about the effects of food on the body. I know that this may seem strange to some, but as someone who was striving to be a pharmacist and who took many classes learning about how modern medicine has cured all these diseases, it was very hard to identify as someone who was into holistic cures. By getting over the fact that in addition to being analytical, I am also spiritual I was able to form a new habit of researching holistic remedies, and finding ways to increase my happiness without increasing my medication dosage.
By adding “spirituality” to the list of things I identify as I was able to get over the blocks that were not allowing me to make nutrition research a part of my daily routine.
Another identity that I had to get over was that I was not a cat person. Growing up I always associated people who had cats with one of two things: either they were crazy and never wanted kids OR they were lazy and did not want to take care of a dog. Because of those two stereotypes I created, I always identified myself as someone who loves dogs, and hates cats. Growing up, I always had a pet in the house, so going away to university was a huge shock for me. I was emotionally dependent on my animals and I often sought them out for comfort when I was having one of ‘down’ days. When I went away to university it was hard for me not to have a pet there to help me work through my emotions. When Kirk and I moved in our apartment in my third year of university I knew I needed a pet, and that month my Nan’s cat had had babies (talk about divine intervention). I knew I would not be able to walk a dog because I would be at school all day, and I still do not think it is fair to have dogs in apartment buildings, so Kirk and I opted to get a cat. We ended up getting two, and the rest is history.
If I did not give up my identity as someone who hates cats, I would never have found the happiness I feel around my two cats.
Another identity that has held me back for years, was the fact that I saw myself as someone who was not creative. This identity went hand-in-hand with the identity that I was analytical. For YEARS I believed that you could not be analytical, while also being creative. Then I started dating Kirk. Kirk is amazing at both math, and art. Which honestly surprised me deeply. Up until then I never thought someone could be good at both (but of course that is not true, to be an architect you have to be both). By coming to the realization you can be both creative and analytical I realized that I too was creative and analytical. I was amazing at both math and dance.
From that point on I have never questioned my creative side, allowing me to engage in projects I would have never thought possible before.
I have had many identities that have held me back from finding my true happiness, but there is one that has truly kept me stagnant. The identity that I am a hard worker. Don’t get me wrong, I AM a hard worker, but how I identified myself was by how many hours I spent doing something I hated, or how many hours I was away from home, both of which did not serve me at all. This identity has honestly held me back the most, because it stopped me from creating habits that allowed me to be happy AND productive. It also caused me to continually look for 9 to 5 jobs, even when I found my calling as a leader and a coach. This identity has been the hardest to break, but through time I know it will be completely gone. This identity is what has truly caused me to struggle with surrendering to the Universe, and being wracked with guilt every time the people in my house leave for work. This identity is so engrained within who I am that I know it is going to take longer than going from a cat hater to a crazy cat lady, but I also know that it can be changed, because I want it to change. The importance of changing this identity is that it will allow for me to put even MORE habits in place to surrender to the Universe and work on my money-mindset.
Do you have certain identities that are holding you back from creating habits that you KNOW will be beneficial? If so, I recommend you start working on re-defining yourself in a way that will make YOU happy. Not what you think society WANTS you to identify as, but an identity that holds true for your innermost values. This is how you find authentic happiness.