Read Time: 5 minutes and 7 seconds.
It’s a Friday night and you’re torn with indecision. The group chat has been buzzing all evening, as your friends make plans on which bars and restaurants to visit. Normally, you’d be thrilled, but lately, you’ve been wanting to drink less. You’re drawn towards a quiet night in, as you’re trying to get ahead in life.
You’d made a commitment to not drink for the entire month of February, however, now you’re starting to feel serious FOMO as your friends have whipped up an exciting evening ahead.
After a long internal debate, you finally make a decision to not go. You share this with the group chat, but your friends don’t take you seriously. They’re skeptical and begin to question your sobriety. After all, you were normally the life of the party on a Friday night.
“Why won’t you come, it’ll be fun”
“Come on, you used to always be the biggest drinker”
“It’s going to be so boring at home, just come!”
As the peer pressure starts flying your way, you slowly feel your resolve breaking. You don’t really want to stay home, but you’re really trying not to drink. Eventually, you reconsider your decision and choose to start your sobriety next weekend. After all, a week won't hurt, will it?
Are you surprised by this outcome?
In this edition of The Path Toward Purpose we’re going to explore The Transformative Power of Redefining Your Identity - and why we find ourselves struggling to say no to certain situations which don’t benefit us.
Let’s get into it…
The Foundations of The Human Identity
Personal growth in essence, is the construct of creating and deconstructing your identity multiple times over, to attain a higher level of understanding about the world.
The person you were 5 years ago, is not the person you are today. Similarly, who you will be in 2 years, is not who you are presently. You’re in a constant state of flux.
Yet, here’s where the Human Identity becomes a major obstacle on the path of personal growth. As you strive towards a meaningful goal, you’ll naturally want to align it towards new habits and new behaviours.
This is all part of the process, but if your identity is rooted in the past, then it can be difficult to resist temptations. Without holding poise and composure, you’ll lose focus and struggle to move towards the brighter future you seek.
The Mental Framework
The Human Identity is how you perceive yourself and make sense of your place in this world. It’s an accumulation of your past experiences, both negative and positive, that form your frame of reference upon reality.
As you move through life, your brain subconsciously absorbs every experience positive and negative and assigns a definitive level of meaning to it. Each memory contains emotions, which are stored in the Amygdala, the emotional control center of the brain.
Which is why when you try to shed your current identity and work towards a new target, it can feel very uncomfortable, as old patterns of thought and behavior which carry emotion are brought up once more. It can leave you feeling uneasy and yearning for the past, even if it never served you well.
How-To Apply This
To help you in this process, I’d like to introduce you to Maslow’s Hierarchy.
Created by Abraham Maslow, it’s a pyramid of basic needs each person must fulfil to ascend to a higher level of life. Think of it as the original diagram of personal growth..
Here’s how you can use this handy tool.
Determine where you sit on the hierarchy, based on the current needs that you're attempting to fulfil in your life.
If you’re yearning for a better future, but are still trying to fulfil needs that are beneath where you currently sit on the Maslow’s Hierarchy spectrum, then it could be time to reconsider if your actions are aligned.
The person you were 5 years ago, might have been needing to fulfil needs further down on Maslow’s Hierarchy, while the identity you’re aiming towards will always have higher-order needs.
To build towards a greater future identity, you must clarify what comes next for you.
→ Do you seek and crave knowledge?
→ Do you desire to have social belonging?
→ Do you deeply seek purpose and fulfilment in this life?
The trick about Maslow’s Hierarchy is that it’s designed in a hierarchical order. Skipping needs and not following the sequence of growth leads to a disjointed personal evolution sequence.
Think of it as jumping levels in a game, you’re not going to learn how everything fits together and might find yourself stuck at a future point in time.
Now you know what comes next, seek out the fulfilment of the attributes that are required for your current and subsequent position on Maslow’s Hierarchy.
→ If you need to build upon your safety and security, make that a priority.
→ If you require knowledge to help you learn more about the world, seek it out.
→ If you’re searching for a higher purpose and meaningful existence, invest in that.
Through focusing on the future and the attainment of these needs, you begin to leave behind your old identity. You’ll focus on areas of your life that provide you a sense of meaning and eventually, discard the areas that no longer serve you.
🚀 Next Steps
Recreating your personal identity is not an overnight process and neither should you desire for it to be. It will take clarity and confidence to distinguish when to say “YES” or “NO” to situations that either serve the future you want to create, or sabotage it.
Your identity will change as you grow and develop as you seek personal growth. There is no ceiling to this journey, only lessons and experiences to be gained along the way. Choose yourself first and cultivate the future you desire with focus and determination. The Path Toward Purpose is truly a fulfilling adventure.
Next time, I’ll be deconstructing how to declutter your life and eliminate excess. My clients struggle with this greatly and admittedly, so have I in the past. When there’s too much going on, it can be very difficult to focus, so a clear, concise strategy can be very helpful. I can’t wait to share it with you!