We are at a place where we have constructed some sort of idea of who we are, even if it is that we are not sure. At least we’re thinking on a deeper level about how we define ourselves and present to others. The purpose of thinking through our identity is to increase awareness and ultimately implement change. Awareness provides the ability to reflect and adjust. All of what we’ll discuss centers on going inward to revamp pieces of yourself, grow. How we craft our identity is insight on who we are becoming and serves as an explanation of our behaviors and habits.
It is vital to work towards a better understanding of all aspects of yourself. So we will address the foundational pieces and that is recognizing yourself, who you are. Last time we contemplated the ways we define ourselves and what it says about us. There should be consistency between the way we describe ourselves and how we act through behaviors and habits. Pretty much, are you who you say you are?
An example is I describe myself as an athlete, meaning I am athletic. I define athleticism as being able to move and perform well in a coordinated manner across sports and activities. The way I describe myself aligns with my behaviors and habits. If high school was the last time I did something athletic, I cannot continue to describe myself as an athlete.
Our behaviors and habits are an umbrella term for our feelings, thoughts, and actions. I can say who I am, but my actions will display more of my identity. Even more telling of who I am is the frequency, intention, and intensity of those behaviors and habits. We’ll discuss feelings, thoughts, and actions separately. Originally, they were clumped into one, but I think it works better this way. We work from the outside in, starting with actions because creating awareness and adjustment is most visible at this level.
Actions: what you do & say
Actions, being the most salient of our behaviors, are we put forward for the world to interpret us by. Our expression, being what we do and say, is what we offer to people. Sometimes out of habit we just do and there is an absence of thought, or intention. Even still, the expression is evaluated, judged, and interpreted by the individual on the receiving end. And we know this, because we do it to others. We project thoughts and intentions on to people’s actions at times without even knowing the person. The accuracy of your interpretation of others is as unimportant as others accuracy of their interpretation of you. And I think that can be understood one of two ways, depending on how much value you believe there is in the opinion of others. Actions are not always intentional, or personal. Sometimes we just do, and on most occasions that is out of habit missing that awareness component.
The important thing about action is recognizing whether it aligns with our said identity. Do you act like who you say you are? If I say I am smart, how do I define that? Whether it is books, street, or maybe it equates to financial success, I need to execute getting good grades, maneuvering a street situation, or have wealth to realize my definition of being smart.
Going back to my example of how I identified myself in the last entry, some key parts of my description were happiness, growth, and time. If I am not fulfilling my definition by creating happiness, finding ways to grow, and efficiently using time, then I am misaligned. In this case something should change, whether that be who I say I am or what I do. Most of us believe our values and principles (coming soon) to be concrete, but defining ourselves and actions are more malleable. You should expect to change, there is constant back and forth when creating balance in who you are. Acknowledging and embracing our own inconsistencies is a challenge no one feels comfortable with, but being able to face this gritty work with commitment is a testament of personal fortitude. It is all a part of the process. Awareness, reflection, adjustment.
So the task is twofold. Both parts ask you to question yourself, shocker. For starters, do you do what you say you’re going to do? It may seem pretty superficial, but it is telling of how important keeping your word is to you. And although people may not acknowledge it, it matters. When you say you’re going to call, do you call? Or do you come when you say you will? Things like this reveal the reliability and consistency of your character even when we rationalize them as insignificant. I can’t emphasize how much pride I take in being someone who does do what I say I am going to do. So yeah, I am a little bias. But still, if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, why not? Do you expect others to do what they say they are going to do? Are those answers consistent? Begin to grapple some with those consistencies outside yourself.
The second part is to reflect on whether what you do and say is consistent with who you say you are. Take the time to probe some of your actions, examining what you do and say, as well as what you choose not to. For things that do not align, give attention to them. Consider which signifies more to you, how you define yourself, or how you act. With intention begin to create alignment.
We’ll further breakdown the components of behaviors and habits (i.e. thoughts and feelings) and solidify the connection between them. Having discussed the link between identity and action, next we’ll bridge action and thought. Just as we explored the two-way influence of identity and action, this will continue throughout each layer. And looking from a broader lens, we’ll see how they all tie into one another.
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