Identities, evidence, and cognitive dissonance.
Why evidence is our greatest ally when it comes to real change.
Our identities can be complex. They're influenced by a lifetime of beliefs and experiences, partially created by ourselves and partially adopted from other people's beliefs and experiences.
But our identity has deep implications on the way we lead our lives and the contentedness (or lack thereof) that we experience on a daily basis. So writing them off as something tied to a past we have no control over is incredibly limiting.
Our identities are as flexible and adaptable as anything else in our life. They can change if we want them to change and take the steps to change them.
As with most things, I always start by understanding what's in our control. And when it comes to our identity, there's one critical thing that's in our control - our actions.
See...our identities love evidence. In fact, they live and die by it. If we're trying to change a particular area of our lives, our subconscious will first and foremost look for evidence to support this identity shift.
A fit person is someone that intentionally moves their body on a regular basis and cares about the food they feed their bodies with. Our identity looks for evidence of that.
A joyful and steadfast person is someone that isn't tossed around by the waves of day to day life. Our identity looks for evidence of that.
A present and patient parent is someone that connects with their kids and gives them the space needed to learn and grow. Our identity looks for evidence of that.
If we are trying to create a new identity in a specific area of our lives, the biggest obstacle we will face is cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is the state of discomfort felt when two or more modes of thought contradict each other.
We believe we are someone that is fit, but the evidence doesn't support it.
We believe we are someone that is disciplined, but the evidence doesn't support it.
We believe we are someone that is kind, but the evidence doesn't support it.
This lack of evidence will lead to cognitive dissonance 100% of the time, and that dissonance will either lead us to 1) change our identity back to someone that we don't want to be, or 2) change our actions to align with our identity.
Limit our identity, or live up to our identity. There aren't other options.
The actions we take are one of the few things in our control. To change our identity, we have to start by changing our actions in a way that is aligned with that identity. Writers write. Fit people move. Patient parents are present.
Want to create your best self? Start with creating evidence. Identity will follow.