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May 6, 2024

Identity Works Because It Creates A Need

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The ultimate force that governs the way we unconsciously interact in our life is our identity. When we have the self-image that we are a certain type of person, or do things a certain type of way, it guides our daily decision making in invisible and unnoticeable ways.

This is commonly accepted in personal development teachings - It’s the reason why someone who says “I don’t smoke cigarettes” is way more likely to avoid smoking than someone who says “I’m not smoking tonight.” The former is based on who they are and the latter is based on what they do.

But practically how does our identity work to have this all-powerful presence in our lives?

This is a newer philosophy for me, but I believe this happens because we have a need to be consistent with our identity. 

The core function of our subconscious mind is to keep us safe. That means every influence our subconscious has on us comes with this objective.

Our identity, which connects closely with our belief system, is our best understanding of what has best served us in keeping us safe in the past. Looking forward, we naturally use our identity to guide our decision making so that we make choices that are most likely to keep us safe in the future as well.

So when we begin to act inconsistently with our identity, our subconscious mind flags it as threatening because ‘different is dangerous’. During this processing our mind produces an unmet need for integrity and immediately gets to work on changing our behavior or surroundings to meet that need. 

This is really dense so let me take a step back and summarize: The great pull force of our identity works because it creates a need to take action in ways that are consistent with it. And that’s why the unconscious path we take is in alignment with that identity, because our minds are evolutionarily designed to meet our personal needs. 

For example: I have the identity of being self-disciplined. This comes not only from me wanting to feel genuine about practicing what I preach but also from the hours of subconscious priming I’ve completed to install that identity. One of the personal routines I practice every night is keynote speaking. 

On the days when it’s late at night, when I’m tired, or when I really don’t feel like doing it, sometimes I tell myself “I can skip just this once.” But the instant I have that thought, my identity kicks in and creates a need. 

I get anxious, internally I feel like I’m doing something wrong, and I start to convince myself why I can’t skip a day of practice. I feel out of integrity with my choice. It’s a literal example of my identity creating an emotional need that redirects my choices and behavior.

This is why identity is so important and our focus in our self-growth must be about becoming a certain type of person rather than doing certain things. 

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