Shaping Your Identity
This weekend I was prompted to explore the question of shaping identity. Marked by events in our day-to-day lives, happenings from our past, and judgments cast by ourselves or perceived by others, we create professional, personal, spiritual, and emotional identities.
Equipped with the human ability to create a personal story based on our view of the world, it is easy to remain in an ongoing dialogue thinking “this is the universal version of how it is.” We can allow the story of our lives to become our only truth, and then we can reinforce this “truth” with feelings and emotional responses in other situations. Believing our identities are fixed, we forfeit our power and control over the future. Imagining our possibilities are limitless, we choose a different way of being. With new options, thoughts, and actions, we reclaim control and create a whole new story.
Believing our identities are fixed, we forfeit our power and control over the future.
Choose Your Identity, Choose Happiness
At a memorial for the Hindenburg disaster, a tragedy occurring 75 years ago, the speaker and only remaining survivor of the ground crew spoke and shared his recollections. He described the incident clearly and the affect it had on his life. He spoke with pride about the lives he helped save, not the 39, which were lost in flames. He chose to identify as hero not sufferer. In contrast, a woman divorced 30 years ago is still unwilling to forgive the pain and humiliation caused by her husband’s infidelity. Trapped by the identity of “victim,” she continues to recount his unforgivable offense. I ask, what good is her story doing her?
Creating and Changing Your Identity
I’d like to provide one more anecdote. I was recently inspired by a new friend who had faced Cancer and near death. She has since come back to health with an attitude of gratitude that she now shares with others. When I listened to her story of courage and triumph, I realized her strength was in her identity as a survivor. She could have easily succumbed to a scary diagnosis or the negative side of the experience. Rather, she opted to change her lifestyle and her thinking, and move in a new direction of health and well-being. Through hearing her story, I realized the power to change begins when we make different choices, creating new identities for ourselves. Managing one’s thoughts takes effort, but it’s the first step towards creating a new story.
I realized the power to change begins when we make different choices, creating new identities for ourselves.
At any given moment we have the power to say, “this is not how my story is going to go. This is not my identity!” Everyday is an opportunity to start a new chapter and invent a new kind of adventure for ourselves. May you begin today!