EPISODE 46 – SHOW NOTES
Your identity is the subject for today. Identity is the 2nd Pillar of Personal Development. Join me today as we discuss:
TODAY ON EXPAND YOUR LIFE PODCAST
- What identity is, and what it is not
- Why it’s so important to really get to know yourself
- Creating relationship with your past, present and future selves
- Why and how we lose our sense of identity
- How you treat yourself changes as you become more sure of who you are and form a healthy relationship with yourself
- How it all adds up to cultivating love for yourself that spills out to everyone around you, and then back again
Welcome to expand your life podcast. This is Jc Jones and you’re listening to episode 46.
Hello everyone. I hope you’re doing well today. Today is the day we’re going to talk about pillar #2 of personal development. Last week we covered self-awareness, which is pillar 1. So today we’re going to talk about identity.
What is identity? Who are you? Who am I? Who are any of us? That’s the question we’re going to talk about today. We’re going to keep the definition real simple today on identity. There are a lot of different definitions out there on what identity is, but what it all basically boils down to is:
Identity is your perception of who you are. Your identity is you. It is everything about you that makes you uniquely you, because everyone is unique. There are no two people exactly the same on the earth, even twins. They have their own unique personality traits. Their unique values. Their unique ways of looking at the world. So everyone has a unique identity. Your identity differentiates you from Sally or Michael across town.
Your identity includes:
- Things that you’re interested in
- Things that you prefer
- How you see the world around you
- Your experiences that you’ve had in life
- The perceptions you have about the circumstances that you do experience
- What’s important to you
- Your values
- Your hopes
- Your dreams
- Your beliefs
- All the things that you’re good at
- Your talents
- Your gifts
- Your skills
All of these things come together to make you, you. That seems simple enough, right? So what causes all the problems with knowing who we are?
Well, first, many of us tend to use things outside of ourselves to identify who we are, by. And that’s not a true definition of who you are. Whether it’s the material possessions you have or don’t have, or the status you have or don’t have, your race, your color, your religion, your role in your family, your role at work, your profession.
All of these things are external things that do not identify us. And we tend to focus on those external things as being pieces of our identity that we’ve been identifying with, then we tend to go through an identity crisis. This happens a lot when children leave home, when you lose your job, there’s a death. You lose the financial status that you had, or you gain a higher financial status than you previously had.
And the same thing goes with social statuses. Any change in any of these external forces that we identify who we are by who will cause a shift in our identity. A crisis in who we are. So the first thing we need to really look at is what external things are we identifying with? What external things do we tend to view who we are by?
A really easy way of figuring this out for yourself is to just start a list. An I am list. I am… blank. Write at the top, “who am I?”. And then start writing a list of I am’s. And then go through that list and see what external things there are on there that shouldn’t be, and mark them all off. Then go through that list again and see what’s left.
This is a really good exercise to bring some more awareness as to where you are right now with your identity. What you are identifying with. And to really understand that any of those external things that you identify with are very shaky, very much dependent on outside forces that you have no control over.
Many people ask me, but isn’t religion part of me? That can’t be an external thing. And no, religion is not part of your identity. The beliefs you have in your religion, the beliefs and values that you’ve gained from your spiritual walk, regardless of what religion you are in, are the things that help you define you. But your religion is not.
What about sexual orientation? The answer once again is no. It is simply a label. How you feel or how you believe because of your sexual orientation is part of your identity. Political affiliation, same thing. Your beliefs and values because of who you are, tend to make you lean one direction or another, when it comes to political affiliations. But the actual political affiliation is not part of who you are.
So if this is the case, then what does determine our, our identities?
Well, let’s look at some of the things I’ve already mentioned.
- The beliefs you have
- The values you have
- The way you think
- The way you behave
- The way you impact those around you
- The relationships you have
- How you show up in your own life and for others
- The character traits that you have
- The things that you enjoy, the things that light you up
- The things that create joy and fulfillment in your life
- Your likes
- Your dislikes
- The way you think
- Your feelings
- Your actions
- Your results
If you want to see a real clear picture of the identity that you’ve lived up until this point of your life, you simply look at the results that you have in your life. The results you have in your life are a real clear blueprint as to who you are.
The answer to the question “who am I?”, Is one of the most difficult questions for us to answer. Why do you think that is?
How well do you know yourself?
You know, when you ask someone that question, they really do believe that well, “yeah, I know myself”. “I know myself better than anyone”. And that may be true, but how well do you know you? If I was to ask you, what are your values? What boundaries do you have in your life to protect those values? What are your dreams? What are your aspirations? What do you enjoy doing? What are you really good at? What would you like to work on, or change in your life?
Not many people can really answer those questions. So if you can’t answer those questions, how well do you really know yourself? We do spend the most time with ourselves than with any other human being on this planet. So you would think that we would really know ourselves better than anyone, correct?
But I can tell you when I was 30 years old and I asked myself some of these questions, I didn’t know myself at all. And why is that? Well, I never really thought about it. I never really thought about it. I guess at that point in time of my life, I was too focused on external things. To focused on playing out a role I had for myself. The role of mother, wife, caretaker, sister, teacher, you name it. I had a lot of external things that I used to identify myself with.
And when I took away all those external things from my life, I had no clue who I was. Absolutely no clue. That’s why a lot of times when we go through those circumstances where our roles change, you know, we’re left with this, who am I question? I don’t even know who I am. Then we have to go find ourselves because we have no clue who we are.
And you would think because I went through this at 30, that I would have realized this, but, you know, after I figured all this out, or I thought I had, I went right back to my old ways of playing these roles and, and identifying myself with these roles. And then when they shifted again, I was back where I started. At least this time, I was much quicker to understand what I had done. Much quicker to be able to figure it out.
But I really had to get to the point where I had to just sit my ass down and say, all right, this is enough. So I had to deal with creating a knowing in me of who I was. I had to get to know myself. I had to figure out what my values were and what those values meant to me.
I had to make sure I had boundaries set up around those values in order to uphold those values in my life, whether it be boundaries about how I do or don’t act, or the things I do or don’t say. And also on the other, on the flip side, you know how I was going to allow other people to treat me. The things I would and would not put up with. I had to create those boundaries in my life because I had already been down that road so many times where I had not had those boundaries and allowed other people to treat me a certain way, simply because of how I felt about them.
And, and once you start doing that, you start living this misaligned identity. You have these values in your mind, or in your heart, of who you are, that you’re allowing people to either step on those boundaries, or you start living by someone else’s values. Or by other values that aren’t yours.
This causes a misalignment in who you are. It can cause depression. It can cause anxiety. Quite a few different debilitating emotions can come from this being misaligned with who you are. Having to be someone other than who you are in order to fit in or to be accepted or to be loved.
And that’s how you get to the point of losing your identity of that “Who am I? I don’t even recognize myself anymore”. So boundaries around your values and who you are, is really important to make sure you understand what they are in your life, because it will keep your identity secure.
So what are the boundaries that you have for your values and who you are? What are your dreams and aspirations? Start taking the time to get to know you.
Start taking the time to remember who you used to be. Every point in time that you’ve ever been, is still part of you now. When you were a baby, when you were two, when you were five, when you were seven, when you were 14 and on and on.
All of those time periods throughout your past self have created who you are today. Those are a part of you. It’s not like we live that life. And that’s separate from us. That person that we were when we were five, is something different than us. We are a different human being. That is part of who we are today. Sometimes it’s helpful to go back and get to know that person that we used to be.
And even your future self. Your future self is a product of all your past selves and your present self. So how do you get to know your future self? One way I like to look at it is all the things I’m doing today are going to result in the future me.
Whether it’s the decisions I make, the results I have in my life, um, the goals and dreams I have, the values I have now, and who I aspire to be, who I am moving towards, as my identity. I have a, a somewhat clear picture of who that is. I can get to know that person. That person has obviously gone through some obstacles to get to that place that they have envisioned, you know, my present self is not there yet, so I can foresee the obstacles and the trials and tribulations that I might have to go through in order to attain that vision of who I want to become.
So I can kind of get a sense of who that future self is. I can have some empathy and some, and caring for that future self. I can do things now to make those future decisions and things that I need to deal with in the future, easier.
I can look out for my future self. And on the same token, I can look back and forgive my past self, where my past self has not looked out for my present self. I can say, you know, you did the best you could with what you knew. And once you knew better, you did better.
If we think about that, it kind of sheds a different light on things. Doesn’t it? You know, if your past self would have made different decisions, you might have different results now. Instead of, you know, beating your past self up over that, the best thing to do is to say, okay, what can I do now to help out my future self? Because all the things that you do now can aid you down the road.
Anyway, sorry, I got off on that little tangent. But it’s something to think about. You know, your future self, your past self and your present self are all the same person. Just at different time periods. And all those people, or all of those timeframes of that one person make you a whole person. Kind of a mind twister there.
So get to know yourself. Get to know your past self. Get to know your present self a little bit more and your future self.
The next thing I want to talk about is how you treat yourself. How do you treat yourself? Well, in order to figure that one out you, all you need to do is think about how you talk to yourself. The things that you focus on in your mind, how you treat your body, how you talk about your body, how you allow others to treat you.
All of these things are clues to how you feel about you and how you treat you. You know, we treat ourselves worse than anyone or anything else on this earth. As you start to get to know yourself better, you’re going to start seeing that you have a lot more empathy for who you are or who you’re being. You’re going to have more understanding as to why you are the way you are and be a little less judgmental about who you are today.
And it will also give you the ability to see that you do deserve to give yourself love. You do deserve to treat yourself nicely. You are worthy of that treatment. You are a human being. Every human being is worthy of being treated kindly and with respect and consideration.
And you’re in no different. You are worth that. You have value. And as you get to know yourself, like I said, you’re going to start seeing this more clearly. You’re going to start looking at yourself in a different light.
And one of the amazing things that happen when you start really liking yourself and liking to hang out with yourself and liking the person you are, regardless of who you are, how you look or anything else, when you start enjoying your own presence and enjoying your own being, that fills you with peace.
You have more ease in your life and more joy. And that will start to overflow to everyone around you. You know, it’s kind of like self care, how everyone’s talking about put your own oxygen mask on first. You know, take care of yourself first so that you have the ability to take care of others.
And it’s, it’s no different with love. You know, the more love you have inside of you for you, the more you fill yourself with love first, it just overflows onto everyone around you.
It’s no longer a chore. It’s no longer something you have to think about. Oh yeah, I need to spend time with so-and-so. It’s just something that automatically happens once you’re filled with love. It just spews out of you. You have no choice in the matter. You’re going to start looking for how you can light up someone’s da., How you can make a difference in the world. How you can make a difference in someone else’s life you come into contact with.
All of these things are going to be just an automatic thing. And then of course, that brings you even more joy. So it’s a constant feeling and giving and receiving. It’s a circular, never ending production of love. And I’m going to get a little corny here, but love conquers all. It really does.
Imagine your day, when you feel like crap about yourself and crap about how you look or who you are, and you’re putting yourself down. And what do you have to give to anyone else when you’re in that place? What do you have to give to anyone, including yourself besides more of the same?
So how do you get there? How do you start really liking yourself? I would say the first thing to start with is to, for those that beat themselves up for past mistakes or present mistakes, the first thing I would do is forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for all that crap that you keep blaming yourself with.
The second thing I would do is start seeing all the things about you that you appreciate. You know, look at your body. No matter what it looks like today, your body is an amazing thing. Your body works night and day to keep you alive. Your body moves you around. It gives you the ability to pick up your kids, to hug someone, to walk or jog or run. It gives you the ability to do everything that you do in life.
Start showing it gratitude. Start telling it how much you appreciate it. And look at yourself. You are a great human being, you know, start focusing on the things that you know are great about you. Not what other people might think or what those limiting thoughts in your mind say, but start being grateful, even for the small things.
That’s the thing with gratitude and appreciation. Once you start showing gratitude and appreciation, more things will come to your mind. More things to be grateful for will come to your mind. More things to be appreciative of will come to your mind.
Your body goes to work every day. You get up every morning. You go to work to make sure that you pay your bills. Even if it’s something that simple, that is a great thing to appreciate about yourself. You are there for others, you do the best you can every day, start appreciating that.
And like I said, as you start appreciating who you are and how you show up in the world, you’re going to start seeing more things that you can appreciate and be grateful for. And all of those things build that feeling of love for yourself and getting to know you.
Once you start realizing that that little baby, that little five-year-old girl or boy is still a part of you, you’re going to view yourself differently. Think of some of the things that you tell yourself today, would you tell them to that five-year-old? Would you tell them to that baby? Once you start looking at who you are in a different light, you’re going to start treating yourself differently. It’s going to change everything.
So I really encourage you to just stop, get to know yourself. Figure out who you are. Start showing yourself and your body gratitude and appreciation daily.
Just changing that focus from either ambivalence where you don’t really have any feelings about yourself one way or the other, or you might be like most of us who treat ourselves poorly. Either way. And then make sure that you remember to get to know your past self and your future self a little bit better. And do a little audit on your I am statements. You know, make that I am list and see what you’re using to identify yourself with. Really pay close attention to any of those things that might be external rather than internal things.
I think that’s it for today. Identity is a big subject. We’ve just barely touched on it today, even though it seems like we really did cover quite a few areas of identity. It’s a bit of a fascination of mine simply because I’ve found myself so many times in my past, at a loss as to who I was. And that’s why I think it’s so important to figure out how to discover and make who you are a very clear picture. A very clear thing in your life in order to not lose sight of that.
But that’s it for today. I left you with a lot to think about. So next week, we’re going to talk about mindset, which is pillar #3 of personal development. So make sure you subscribe to the podcast so that you’ll get updates and notifications when new episodes are released. Have a great week. Bye for now.
THANKS FOR TUNING IN!
Thanks for tuning in to this weeks episode of Expand Your Life Podcast. Join me again next week where we will be discussing: Mindset – Pillar 3 of Personal Development
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