I think identity plays a crucial part in our behaviors and beliefs.
But identity is tough to shape. I think at times, you can mentally force yourself to behave a certain way to form the belief and ultimately the identity. And I think sometimes you need the result to justify the new identity. Let me give an example of each. I used to identify as “shy” and “introverted”.
I adopted this belief and it affected everything about me… The words I used… The way I dressed… The way I behaved… But I didn’t enjoy being introverted. It wasn’t fun.
It was a tough habit to break because everyone around me validated my anti-social, introverted thoughts and behaviors. I took it upon myself…
“How can I be less introverted?” “How can I not be introverted at all?” The answer: Find people that AREN’T introverted and do what they do.
Model extroverted people. I observed friends of mine, TV and movie stars that seemed extroverted, and characters from fiction with an outgoing personalities. I mimicked them. Hank Moody from Californication… Dwayne Johnson… Eddie Morra from Limitless… I tried to act out of the character of Leonard Richardson and take pieces from each of the aforementioned individuals that were most appealing to me.
I began to act as a new character. And once I completed the act, I affirmed that it was possible to behave differently, and because I could behave this way, it altered my identity over time. This is around the time I stopped referring to myself as Leonard and started calling myself Lenny. When it came to seeing a result and then forming a new identity, I did this with clothing. Why? Well, I found that it takes a brief moment to purchase and wear clothing.
But once that piece of clothing or outfit is purchased, there’s an IMMEDIATE feedback loop.
You can INSTANTLY see a new version of yourself. But why doesn’t everyone see this new identity? Well, most people fall into default styles and never deviate. Try this…
Find 5 people. Strangers, close friends, acquaintances… It doesn’t matter who. Now, look at their clothing (and if you know them, keep their general style in mind). It’s likely that they wear the same outfit or similar outfits every day. It’s their identity. Now, think about how they behave.
The words they use. Their mannerisms. How they spend their free time. How they spend their money.
I’m willing to bet that there’s a link between how they present themselves and how they behave.
Ask a person that usually wears a Polo shirt, buttoned to the top, and khakis to swap those items of clothing for a Bomber Jacket, slim-fit jeans, and maybe some sunglasses. Even though the challenge is simple, they’ll struggle to do it. They’ll likely say, “I would never wear that” or “it’s not me”. Basically, they’re communicating: I’m not the kind of person that would wear that.
…but who is I?
I is simply a measure of your habits. But habits, in my opinion, can be altered quickly or slowly. Someone unwilling to change their clothing could immediately alter their perception of themselves and their behaviors by an outfit change. They would need to behave congruently to the identity. I write this as a thought experiment for the person that might want to change their personality or parts of their personality. I don’t think either method is more or less effective. Does this make any sense? I think by changing your identity, you change your behaviors.
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