Let Go of Your Identity to Grow Rapidly
It’s hard to grow when you know exactly who you are.
We have a tendency to think of ourselves in a certain way, and therefore think, act, talk and participate in life based on that self-image. For some, their idea of themselves might be negative, for others it may be positive, but no matter what extreme you find yourself on, you will move through life based on that belief.
Change becomes hard when your identity is tied in with your behaviors, because you don’t know what will be left of you after these things are gone.
Your patterns of thinking and everyday behaviors create the personality structure and body that you and others are used to interacting with. Anything different from that seems unlike you, maybe even a different person entirely.
Stepping away from a certain habit or pattern of thinking can be scary because we may have been stuck in it for so long that we no longer know or can even imagine who we are without it. An important thing to remember is that there is no habit or thought that is essential to you. Everything that you do, good and bad, has been collected by you throughout your life and therefore cannot fundamentally be you.
When you were a baby, you had no experience of or concept about any habit that you hold dear now. You had no idea what it meant to binge eat, smoke cigarettes, be a workaholic, gambler, workout fanatic, etc. You probably didn’t even know about any of these things until you were older. There are of course, some habits that you may have picked up as a kid through reacting to angry parents, strict school teachers, and/or bullies. These are ways of behaving in the world that you have acted out since you were a child, they have kept you safe all the way to this point, and for that they are great.
The conclusion we come to about a certain situation based on how we perceive the experience will decide what kind of reaction will play out next time we’re in a similar situation.
As you grow and learn how to interact with the world, you develop habitual reactions and personality traits that help you to move through reality as smoothly as possible (or so it seems). These habits and personality structures tend to solidify and crystalize at some point, creating a self-image that you take to be the true you.
But there was a you that existed before you picked up all the characteristics you hold dear now. There was a you that was free from blindly following habits to the same end. There was a you free from worry, stress and the natural desire to rid yourself of these burdens. This is the real you – your free being.
As we grow up and especially as we want to start bettering ourselves through self-mastery, we have to face all the habits that we have accumulated throughout our life and most of the time burst through them to make significant progress. It might be hard to let go of these patterns at first because you don’t know what this change will lead to and how or who you might be if you don’t respond to things in the same way anymore.
You can measure what you’ll lose but you never know what you’ll gain.
But the problem is we aren’t used to not knowing who we are. Instead, we are constantly defending a self-image (who we think we are) against other people self-images and more devastatingly to ourselves. This puts us in a defensive mode as we walk around daily life and interact with other individuals in different situations (who are also playing out their own reactionary habits that they picked up over time).
When you can see through this, you are one step closer to understanding who you truly are and understand more fully that nothing anybody does (even yourself) is personal. It’s just habitual reactions that takes us over so fast that we get caught up in them and believe them to be true based on previous life experiences that we encountered and either accepted or rejected.
Having a flexible self-image is the secret to growth.
Instead of asking the question “Who am I?” ask the question “Who am I becoming?”
If you really think about it, letting go of old, unnecessary habits and mindsets that no longer serve you opens the door for endless opportunities. You can be whoever you want to be because you don’t know who you are anymore without the habit or mind pattern. Now that you’ve allowed yourself some space to grow and feel, you are more likely to now consciously choose how you want to be instead of feeling like a sensation is controlling you.
Over time you can develop a love for not-knowing, for plunging head first through reality without holding onto anything solid or stable. You will constantly shed your identity as you change your behaviors and thought patterns, but you will gain a new, updated identity for yourself that is capable of more and more and more.
So GO FOR IT! Be whoever you want to be, because it’s totally up to you who you are in this moment.