“An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.” – James Baldwin
Colossians 1:11-12 Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Three ways to improve your Identity Resilience
I remember a time when I thought my identity was set in stone and there was nothing I could do to change who I was or how I was. This process of thinking left me stuck for a couple of years thinking everything was fixed in my life. The positive and negative assessments people made about me were always going to be true. The good, the bad, and the very ugly things about my character had no chance of changing.
Fixed thinking is concrete with little chance of breaking the mold. When you feel there are ugly aspects of your personality or character that you feel will never change, depression comes knocking on the door. You don’t want to answer, but somehow it finds a way in. And you are faced with this illusion that you are doomed to never being able to change your flaws no matter how much you wanted to.
Sounds gloomy…. I know!
I was depressed for a very long time because I didn’t think I could ever change the things that kept failure as a recurrence in my life. Things didn’t change until I came across Carol Dweck’s work on the “Growth Mindset”. The fixed mindset states everything is determined and everything once settled into a specific pattern, can not ever change. This new psychology helped change the outlook of millions of people, helping them to see, we can choose whether we can grow from who we were or who we are and develop into the people we long to be.
It was fascinating like a lightbulb went off in my mind. I finally had the confirmation that I could grow out of my hated flaws and build the type of character and identity that would gain me success in life.
The only problem that I faced just like many others is, once you begin to change your character and build your ideal identity, there are obstacles and hurdles you have to overcome to keep the changes in your life. Even though growing is emphatic and exhilarating to think about, the reality is, the new you have to have gut-level resilience developed in you or you will fold back into the old you quicker than you know.
When working with clients, I look to build on their core strengths and their aspirations so when they are tested to go back into old habits, there is a foundation they are able to stand on and be resilient to sticking to the program of building their new identity.
Here are two quick tools that will help you develop resilience in changing your character:
- Quickly identify who will support the NEW YOU and who will be pessimistic about the changes you’ve made.
I can’t overstate this key rule enough. Many people fold back into the people they once were because they have frail support systems. When you are trying to change the person you are, and you are building the lifestyle and persona that you know will gain you more success at your job, with your family, at your church or your local club, you have to know who people will support your changes.
What I tell my clients is that they have to either reduce the amount of contact they have with pessimistic people who do not support their changes or completely cut them off. The problem that many people face, and the things I had to endure, is that it is harder to be resilient and promoting the new you to emerge if you constantly have negative energy, negative comments, and reminders that you will never change. It’s sad to say but it’s true. Some people will never be comfortable with the changes you make only because it reminds them of who they are and where they are and sometimes their inability to change themselves.
Identity resilience is predicated that you build the type of support system that will help you continue making changes for the better and not the individuals that don’t believe you can sustain them. We all have an inner critic in our head that we have to fight on a daily basis, it is too much to battle with ourselves to change but to contend with the people closest to us will definitely make it harder to succeed.
“Successful people demonstrate their resilience through their dedication to making progress every day, even if that progress is marginal.” -Johnathan Mills
So once you have decided to make significant changes in your life, quickly identify the people who are with you and supportive of the changes. Listen to how they try to keep you resilient by not allowing you to have negative self-talk, or to go back to the things that you used to do. Keep those individuals around. Keep them on your speed dial. Keep them over the house. Bring them with you when you go on trips or places where you think you might fail. You want to do this because this is how you build the necessary guards that will keep you from going backwards.
The people that tempt you, the people that constantly make fun of your changes, the people that recruit others to laugh at your changes, these are the people you want to reduce your time with and possibly cut off completely.
- Follow a mantra that is bigger than you.
Most of our character flaws that have been woven into our identity, or how we identify our personas are lowkey selfish. We procrastinate because we want to rest a little bit longer in bed,
we bloviate to save face when we are around our friends who are doing better than us, we cheat because we don’t want to put in the extra work to do things the right way. Whatever the flaw maybe, whatever you have identified as something that is a negative aspect in your life is connected to a need to protect or selfishly promote yourself. I believe that is one of the reasons why he hates our flaws so much because we come to learn that the very nature of our flaws are self serving.
Having a mantra that is bigger than you helps to see the bigger picture and what is most important to you when making changes not just for you, but the people that are impacted by your decisions and actions. A mantra is a principle that you live by. It is the single most important phrase that you resort back to when you have to make critical decisions, or when you have to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing in the first place.
Creating a mantra that is bigger than you, takes the pressure off of your mind to think of all the reasons why you started making changes. Having a mantra bigger than yourself reminds you that you are making changes for someone else and it makes your changes more important on a larger scale. Kobe Bryant’s mantra was Mamba Mentality. In it was filled with key principles but the number one principle was to outwork your own potential so at the end of the day your work will inspire greatness in others.
You create a mantra by prioritizing your principles and values and formulating it into a phrase or a quote. This creates a simplistic way of reminding yourself to make the decision not based on how you feel but making the decision based on what you have committed yourself to. Identity resilience relies on your ability to make decisions in hard times when you want to go backward. Mantras help to remind you to make your decisions on your principles and not your emotions,
especially when you are doing your best to change your character or persona.
Identity resilience is important to everyone who looked at their lives and knows there are critical changes that need to be made. You will be faced with wanting to go backwards more than you are presented with why you should keep going forward. You can’t expect to be resilient with changing who you are just by your WILL alone. You have to have tools set in place that will help you facilitate in growing your identity through resilience. Through perseverance and grinding out the changes that you already made.
You want to live a healthier lifestyle, use these tools so you can cut back on unhealthy eating. You want to be a better employee, use these tools to help support the changes you needed to make in order to be a better team player. You want to be a better parent, use these tools so you can learn how to develop your children where there is mutual understanding and not disention and animosity.
We all can change even if it seems hard. The Lord will give us the grace to endure the changes that we make so that we are able to keep going and not fold.
BY: CJ Greene