Identity and How it May Impose Limitations

anonymous mask v anonymous identity oscar wilde

“IF only—I had the courage to see myself as I really am, I would find out what is wrong with me and correct it.  Then I might have a chance to profit by my mistakes and learn something from the experience of others.  I know there is something wrong with me or I would now be where I would have been if I had spent more time analyzing my weaknesses, and less time building alibis to cover them.” -(‘Think and Grow Rich’)

So throughout the week I had a bunch of ideas for the subject of my next post.  When I have an idea about a topic all these thoughts flood my head about what I’m going to include, how to discuss it, and examples to give.  In those moments I could just sit down and type for an hour straight without ever losing momentum.  So here I am on a Saturday night and there’s nothing particular jumping out at me.

I could follow through with the ideas I brainstormed earlier this week, but I feel like those ideas can be saved for another time, when I’m really in the zone and focused on those particular issues.  Ok, here goes nothing.  Today I want to talk about identity.  Who you are at your core, what you have the potential to become, and what conditioned behaviors you may have that are out of alignment with your values.

Your identity is the set of beliefs you have about yourself.  These beliefs impose limits on how you can behave in different scenarios.  If you believe yourself to be a generous person, you may be more willing to give a few dollars to a homeless man on the street.  If you believe yourself to be dominant, you will probably be much more likely to engage in a physical confrontation if someone comes looking for one.  These are some very straight forward examples.  What I want to talk about are some of the more abstract, less obvious possibilities.

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Say one of your global beliefs about who you are is that you are a nice person.  Whenever you are asked to do a favor for a friend, you do it, regardless of whether or not you want to, even if the request seems unreasonable.  After all, you are a nice person and you should be willing to help a friend out.

Well what if there’s more to it than that?  What if, what you’re telling yourself is you being nice is actually you being submissive, and fearful of what others may think if you were to assert yourself by saying no?  What I’m describing here is a backwards rationalization.  The true force at play here was your fear to say no.  But you’re level of self-awareness isn’t high enough for you to understand this because you haven’t conditioned yourself to analyze your own psyche this deep.

So you believe that you’re doing it as a favor for a friend because you are a nice person.  The real issue is never seen, it’s totally underneath the surface and anything outside of our awareness cannot be changed.  That’s which you resist persists.

You don’t want to be submissive, overly agreeable and afraid to assert yourself, so next time a friend asks you to do them a favor, make sure you say no!  I’m only kidding.  Obviously use your best judgment and if you want to do the favor then do it.  If not, then don’t.  It’s up to you to decide what’s within reason.

The point I’m trying to make is that your identity, the set of beliefs you have about yourself, may be placing limitations on you.  Your behavior may be limited and you may have conditioned responses that are not necessarily the most productive for taking you where you want to go in life.

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On my own journey I can clearly see where a lot of the beliefs I once had about who I was, where I stood, and what I was entitled to, had placed restraints on me.  And this is why I chose this topic just a few minutes ago.  Today I came to the realization that although I’ve worked hard to change so much in my life, there are still the remains of my past experiences and old ways of thinking that have yet to be fully extinguished.

Compared to my lifetime, I’ve only been consciously developing myself for a small portion of it.  The majority of my life was spent living the ‘wrong way’ allowing these old beliefs and behavior patterns to become deeply rooted within my psyche.  Some of my own conditioned responses to life are disempowering.

But I’ve been aware of it.  I’ve been monitoring it and making efforts to correct it.  Every time I slip up and do something I view as unacceptable, or less than ideal, I take note of it in my head and think about how I SHOULD have responded to that situation.  The past week I’ve done this more than ever and right now I feel great.  I may not be where I’d like to be just yet, but witnessing progress is the most fulfilling, and inspiring thing I’ve ever experienced.

Sometimes you get so caught up in the day to day grind of life that you forgot why you’re even doing the things you spend your time doing.  Then every once in awhile you have a break through.  You make a leap of progress and you see the drastic difference from where you once were, and where you are now.

What this tells me is that I’m on my path, and if I just continue to move forward I will eventually get to where I want to be.  There are a lot of questions still unanswered, a lot of problems left unsolved, and a long road ahead, but to witness tangible progress is proof that all the effort is paying off.

I’m better today than I was yesterday, and I can’t wait to see where I’ll be a year from now.  Just because my life isn’t currently where I’d like it to be, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t enjoy where I am right now.  It’s part of the process and when I do reach my full potential I’ll appreciate what I’ve accomplished much more, having been where I am now.

What it comes down to is living for your own purpose, becoming the person you want to be, and achieving all that you want out of life.  You only get one shot at life so it’s crucial that you make it count and leave no room for regrets.

This is the exact reason why I am a complete believer in basing your career on something you love.  If you’re passionate about what you do and you find enjoyment in your work, you will constantly find ways to grow and to generate more value.  If you hate your job you’re going to do the bare minimum, stagnate, and find no fulfillment in it.  Forty hours a week is a big portion of your life to commit to something that does nothing for you aside from a paycheck.

Don’t let society fool you into believing that money is the most important thing.  Money can’t buy you happiness, it can’t buy you determination, love, passion, motivation, perspective, intelligence, etc.  It’s just fiat currency anyways.  There’s no intrinsic value to it what so ever.  And the way the fed’s been pumping the stuff out lately, it’s becoming even more worthless. Coming soon, QE3!

Again, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea here and take this to the extreme that you should quit your job and find a way to get by with nothing.  The point is that money should not be what drives you in life.  What drives you should be your desire to travel, or own a business, or the ability to create amazing experiences for yourself and those you love.  The money should come as a natural consequence of who you are and the value you offer to the rest of the world, from doing the things you love to do.  Don’t think how am I going to start a business to make money for ME.  Instead think, what can I do that would improve the lives of potentially millions of people?

IDENTITY-MIND-MAPPlease, don’t become enslaved by a company you don’t care about, doing a job you hate, simply because it provides you with a mediocre paycheck.

I started to drift off topic there but, regardless, I feel that little tangent has it’s purpose in this article.

Coming back to identity, I really want you to take a look at your life and make sure you are living in alignment with your core values and the core of who you are.  This means being present and not acting out of conditioned responses to stimuli.

What do you want out of life that you currently don’t have?  How are your beliefs about who you are keeping you from getting these things?  If you had a more empowering identity how would you interact with the world, and with other people in a way that would bring you all that you want?

You have to have an internal locus of control.  You have to decide your own worth and where you stand for yourself.  Stop relying on external feedback and how others react to you to determine your self-worth.  Don’t ever let other people dictate your sense of self-worth.

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Decide how much YOU value YOURSELF and act according to your own judgement.  Like I said earlier, life is too short and you don’t want to leave room for regrets.  I think that living in a self-hating state, or viewing yourself as average based on how people of no particular significance may have treated you in the past is absolutely ridiculous.

Be great.  View yourself as great and create an identity based on that; then see how the rest of the world responds to you.  Not that it even matters, but you will clearly notice a difference.

That’s all for tonight.  As always, thanks for reading.  I really do appreciate being able to share my ideas with you.  Hopefully you’ll be hearing from me sooner than later!  And if you haven’t already, please connect with me on both facebook, and twitter.

Also, to continue reading on limitations imposed by fear, please check out SoLongMediocrity.

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Andy RandonIdentity and How it May Impose Limitations

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