The Foundation of Our Identity

What do you believe? I’m not talking about your political leanings or religious doctrines. Our beliefs become the foundation of our identity, and while those areas can certainly serve a purpose for many, the part of your belief system that I’m most interested in is those that you carry about yourself.

Our beliefs in our own capabilities can drive us forward or hold us back. I’ve found it fascinating to come to the realization that an entire segment of our lives has been defined for us through a combination of societal expectations and our upbringing. Through our entire childhood and early adulthood, we have measures of progress. Goals to achieve by a certain time frame. Finish elementary school, junior high, high school. Perhaps go to college or alternatively, a trade school. Get a job. Buy a house. Find a partner and get married. Have children if you choose and build sand castles over summer vacation (if you aren’t just living on the beach!).

Then what? What if you’ve gone as far as the “getting a job” part, but you haven’t yet found someone that you’d truly enjoy spending the rest of your life with? What do you make that mean for your thoughts and ultimately your beliefs about yourself? Do you make it mean that you are a failure? Do you make it mean that you are living life on your terms and that you’re completely content with where you are right now?

Having a job doesn’t mean the same thing that it meant a generation or two ago. These days, it doesn’t mean that you have security and that you’ll retire from the first company where you land after graduation. Many of us find that we have to move around in order to increase our pay. Either way, you’re working to support the life you want to live. What does that look like for you?

Here’s where I’m going with this. The deeper I get into coaching, the  more people I meet who feel as if something is missing. And the recurring theme is tied directly to the way they think about themselves. This is true for me as well. In order to grow and become the next best version of myself, I first have to believe that I am capable and worthy of that version, and from there I have to behave as if I’m already there.

47696522301_21dbb57f12That’s not as easy as it sounds, friend. We can take a hard look at where we are today and our thoughts around that. Then we can dream about where we want to be. The bridge between those places is often referred to in our coaching circles as “the River of Misery”. Why? Because there is discomfort in the unknown and in changing, especially when it involves redefining who we are and where we want to be in life. There is almost always fear of failure and that prevents many of us from even trying. But we’re going to have to cross that river in order to reach those dreams. We have to build that bridge in our mind and transition our current belief system to that of our future.

It’s so much easier to be a student, isn’t it? You have your curriculum defined and you just need to complete the assignments on time and demonstrate your proficiency by passing tests along the way. But when you were a student, you couldn’t wait to be finished; to check that box and move on to your career. How many of us as adults would be more than happy to just go back to school and have that be our only concern in life? Isn’t that funny?

What I really want for all of you reading this is to take a moment to look within yourself, ask what it is that you want from your life, and then ask why you don’t already have it. The answer is absolutely in your beliefs about yourself. Here are a few of the shitty things we tell ourselves:

  • I don’t know where to start.
  • I don’t know how. 
  • I’m afraid I’ll fail.
  • People will laugh at me.
  • I don’t dare.
  • I’m not worthy.
  • I’m not [insert your own descriptor] enough.
  • I’m overwhelmed.
  • I’m too busy.

Can you see how allowing your brain to tell you these things over and over ultimately creates your own belief system? Do you think we would have all of the creature comforts that we have today if our greatest inventors had told themselves these shitty things? Of course, you don’t know how because you’ve never done it before. But that shouldn’t prevent you from some good old-fashioned trial and error.

While your on the bridge crossing the River of Misery, you’re getting closer and closer to other side. What you tell yourself while you’re on that bridge should sound more like this:

  • I can start where I am.
  • I can find out how.
  • Failure is a learning experience.
  • People laughing doesn’t really hurt.
  • If I dare, I can grow.
  • All humans are worthy.
  • I believe that I could be enough.
  • I can create a plan to break this down into manageable tasks.
  • I can sacrifice time in front of the t.v. to go after my dreams.

Start somewhere, just start. Stop playing it safe and give yourself some grace while you’re on that bridge. Train your brain to think new thoughts which will ultimately lead to new beliefs, and your capacity for growth will be unstoppable.

Above all else, be ever mindful that our beliefs are the foundation of our identity.

photo credit: Pamela P. Stroud I Have Only Just Begun Walking the Right Path of Life via photopin (license)

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