What makes you who you are?
Is it the experiences you’ve been through? The things you’ve done?
Sure, that shapes you. Yet, I’d argue that the biggest factor that determines who we are is much more subtle.
It’s the thoughts you have about yourself.
At the end of the day, you are who you think you are.
And that’s actually a fantastic thing.
Because you have complete control over your thoughts. If you change your thoughts, you can literally change the person you are.
“In my mind, I’ve always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y’all just didn’t know yet.” – Will Smith
Discovering Your Current Self-Image: What Do You Think About Yourself?
The first step to changing your self-identity is understanding what your current self-identity is.
I don’t mean that vague image of ‘I’m a pretty amazing person’ that everyone has.
Discovering who you are now requires deep thought. You need to ask yourself some questions that you’ve maybe never pondered before.
Here are a few to get you started:
What Are Your Strengths? What Are Your Weaknesses?
Your strengths aren’t just the things you do well, they’re the things you like doing.
Let’s be honest:
When you do something you dread, it’s a struggle to do it well.
Think about the things you are good at doing. They don’t have to be work-related. Having superb listening skills or being the best at story-telling counts, too.
Next, ask yourself what are the things you could work on? What are you not so good at?
Give this question some real thought. Don’t just think, “I’m not good at anything” and move on. You’re great at many things. You just never gave yourself any credit.
What Are Your Limits? What Are the Things You Can & Can Not Do?
“All men have limits. They learn what they are and learn not to exceed them. I ignore mine.” – Batman
Your limits are the things you’ve told yourself that you cannot do. Whenever you think, “I can’t do that”, you build up another self-imposed limit.
What activities do you believe are out of your capabilities?
What are activities you shy away from because ‘you can’t’ or ‘you’re not that kind of person’?
What Kind of Person Are You?
You are the person you think you are. So, who do you think you are?
Are you kind? Thoughtful? Hard-working?
I hold the unshakable belief that I am an Achiever. I have it written with henna on my wrist. Everything I do is determined by that one word.
If you had to describe yourself with one word, what would it be?
What Thoughts Do You Have About Yourself on A Daily Basis?
If you’re having trouble answering the previous questions, just pay attention to the thoughts you have about yourself. They’ll tell you all you need to know.
Here are some thoughts to pay special attention to:
- Why do I always do this?
- I love it when I…
- Why can I never…
- I am ….
- I wish I ….
Carry around a notebook and jot down your thoughts for a day or two. If you’ve never given your thoughts much attention, you’ll be surprised by what they tell you.
Changing Your Self-Identify: Reforming Your Thoughts
You are who you think you are, so the best way to change who you are is to:
- Change your thoughts about yourself
- Reinforce the new thoughts through action
Here are a few ways to do just that:
1. Edit Your Self-Talk
After you’ve monitored your self-talk, it’s time to challenge the negative thoughts that pop into your head.
You’d think controlling your thoughts is an easy task, I mean you are the one thinking them, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Try not to think of a green hippo and you’ll know what I mean.
Next time you think self-limiting thoughts, challenge the thought by asking:
- Why did I think that?
- What evidence do I have that supports that thought?
- What other ways can I look at the situation?
- What can I do to change this perspective?
- How does this thinking benefit me now?
Getting to a point where this type of thinking is natural takes practice. Sometimes, it feels like our thoughts are more in control of us than we are of them, especially in times of anxiety and worry.
2. Draft Your Ideal Self
This activity helps you see yourself in a different light. You create the person you want to be and determine what actions you need to take to become that person.
Take a moment to think about the person you want to be. Think about why you aren’t that person now. (You might already be half-way there.)
What characteristics does this person have? How are those characteristics manifested?
Afterward, grab a piece of paper and write down, in detail, the characteristics and behaviors of this person. Use the pronoun “I” when describing their traits.
Draft the person you want to be, then read it to yourself at the end of every day. Contemplate whether your behaviors that day aligned with who you want to be.
3. Repeat Mantras
Mantras are another way to change your thoughts through repeating the thoughts you’d like to establish.
The problem with mantras is that they’re not very actionable. They’re words you repeat to yourself, but without action, they don’t mean anything.
Mantras need to be accompanied by reinforcing action.
My favorite mantra book is Emerge: Daily Mantras For Personal Growth.
Emerge helps you support your mantras by giving you the space to record the reinforcing actions you took.
It could be as small as doing a power pose for two minutes or smiling at a stranger, but in the end, those small actions add up.Get it here
4. Create Change through Action
You can fantasize about your ideal self all day, but until you start acting as your ideal self would, you’ll never become them.
If you say you are confident, you need to act like it, too. Stand taller. Speak a little louder. Make hand gestures when talking to others. Join a Toastmasters club.
Start small, of course, but then keep gradually increasing the challenge until you truly are the person you want to be.
You are the only person in control of who you are—not your circumstances and not the people you hang out with. Who you think you are is the only opinion that matters, so it’s worth the time to create a self-image that aligns with your goals.
Who are you now? Who do you want to be?