Introducing our most sensitive and Most Powerful beliefs: IDENTITY BELIEFS.
What come’s up for you when you say, “I am….”
The beliefs you have about yourself are guiding every decision you make.
You will defend them passionately.
So far as achieving your health goal, they can be a massive ally or a ball and chain around your ankle.
Your beliefs are possibility filters, in that you will filter in evidence to support what you believe…. and the reverse is just as true.
What if I had a belief; “I am not a natural exerciser” ..the person with such a belief will filter in ‘proof’ to back up this belief. (and if we’re hunting for it we can always find proof!)
Being a hopeless swimmer.
Never being able to connect bat to ball.
Reaching new heights of SUPER-UNcoordinated-ness in every group exercise class.
Falling off a treadmill.
The examples are all mine, in fact I fell off the treadmill my first week as a Personal Trainer… in front of the owner of the gym… and the senior trainer. Within 24 hours EVERY other trainer AND their partners knew ‘the new girl’ had ‘come a gutser’.
However my belief was (and still is) “I am a person who loves & prioritizes exercise” because when I exercise regularly I am a vastly more happy, positive and confident person.
Or how about; “I am genetically unlucky”...wow, really? – well since being ‘heavy-set’ is just how you are, you might as well chow down on those chips.
In contrast; “I am a person who will do whatever it takes to get and keep my personal ideal body” …ok, well those yummy looking hot chips are an obstacle best avoided if you really want to get that body you’ve been working so hard for.
=> If you’re looking to stir up some huge emotional intensity, to fuel your resolve when discipline wears thin – then Identity Beliefs are the ticket.
Let’s test it. Two common IB’s are;
a. “I’m a loyal and trustworthy person”
b. “I’m a loving parent – my kids come before everything”
If you were to question the ethics of person A. or parent B’s love for their kids you’d meet a veritable storm front… perhaps you done it unintentionally in the past?
The emotional intensity I’m looking to foster, is that which will help you take the actions you know you need to take to achieve your health goal.
AND Emotion has nothing to do with facts.
The important thing is to recognise what’s working & what’s holding you back.
If you already know what to do with regard to eating and exercising to lose fat but you don’t DO what you know, then there is a conflict or in-congruency somewhere that is keeping you stuck.
In the same way that it’s vital you meet your values in a way that compliments rather than conflicts with your fat loss goal… there needs to be congruency with your IB’s and the daily actions you take.
For example, a common ‘obstacle’ I hear;
“I have to eat pasta at dinner with my wife and kids”
or “pizza and beer with the boys.” or “champagne and tapas with the girls.”
Generalisations aside – you get the picture – in each of the above examples there is an identity belief guiding the choice being made… and it ISN’T “I am a person who chooses the food that will keep my body looking and feeling as lean and healthy as possible”
It’s likely closer to…
“I’m a loving dad and I’m not going to sacrifice our family friday night pasta tradition”
“I’m an easy-going, fun loving guy/gal and I’m not going to be the ODD-draw-attention-to-myself-fussy-eater”
The problem isn’t always the identity belief – it can instead be what you’re choosing to make that belief mean… or put another way, the rules you’ve (likely unconsciously) created to support your identity belief.
=> Our pasta loving dad could choose to have his protein and veg rich sauce over a bed of fibrous veg, which his super active and growing kids still gobbled down their pasta.
=> Our easy-going guy or gal can choose to co-ordinate their weekly CHEAT MEAL (I cover that lil wonder here) with meeting mates… or eat a goal supporting meal prior or after pizza/tapas… or suggest a more fit-body-friendly restaurant.
Enough with the general examples, let’s make this directly applicable to you.
Step 1. Identify (!) your Identity beliefs. (no exact number, however if you want one – let’s go with 5).
This truly is as simple as asking yourself what comes up when I say “I am…” ?
Step 2. Clarify in what ways these beliefs are serving you and also in what ways they are limiting you (for now just in relation to your health goal to keep it simple).
Step 3. In the situations where you’ve created ‘rules’ to support your identity belief that are in conflict with the actions you need to take to achieve your health goal…
MAKE UP NEW RULES!
Again, it is that simple. Whether you’re a ‘rules’ lover or hater, you will be following your own set of rules and it’s likely happening unconsciously until you take the time to think about it consciously. So you might as well take that time and make up rules that get the results you’re looking for.
Caveat 1. “I am a Personal Trainer” is not an Identity Belief. It’s another type of belief for another day… the important thing is if you believe YOU ARE your career, you’ll setting yourself up for huge pain when you no longer have that career. An identity crisis.
In contrast; “I am a fit and healthy person” is a belief that allows me to be the person I need to be in the moment as a personal trainer.
It allows me to detach from ‘Personal Trainer’ – for example when the profession necessitates something that as ‘Kate’ I wouldn’t be down with. It really doesn’t happen to me these days… but I guess an example would be the way I’d act with rude, ignorant, sleazy people in say a bar situation or in my professional capacity = VASTLY DIFFERENT.
Caveat 2. The more ‘malleable’ your IB’s are the easier you’re going to find learning and growing. People change. Behavioural flexibility allows you to recognize when it’s time to upgrade – or just change a belief – rather than being tied to it.
“I am a meat eater. I LOVE meat. I couldn’t live without meat.”
(me for 16 years)
“I am a vegetarian”
(me now, and for the past 16+ years)
Whatever WORKS for you right now.
So. What does work for you right now?
What is the current Identity Belief you can use to really light that fire under your desire to achieve your goal? Something you believe about yourself, that you will defend to the end… whether that’s defending from another persons opinion or defending from yourself and the natural inclination we all get from time to time to act (IN-act) in ways that don’t support the beliefs we know to be true about ourselves.
P.S. If you found this post useful, it is straight from my 6 part series ‘Smart Simple Weight Loss’.
Here I describe exactly how this former carb and cardio queen personally silenced limiting beliefs surrounding my best body and escaped years of struggling, disappointment and deprivation with 6 steps to create a winning weight loss mindset: