Alright - raise your hand if you've ever found yourself saying something along the lines of, "I am a failure", "I am fat", etc.?
Yep, my hand is in the air too. Realistically, most of us have had moments of weakness throughout our lives where we were disappointed and we let a thought turn into our "momentary identity". The problem comes with not letting that brief moment of weakness turn our "permanent identity".
Identity is more than just how you consciously see yourself - it's how your unconscious sees yourself, and your unconscious (subconscious) is responsible for the majority of your habits, emotions, and patterns of thinking. Many things can impact our identity, including how we have been raised, what we hear in society, and how much we know or own God's Word.
So if you have a positive identity, and you are secure in who God says you are, you are more likely to engage in positive habits, positive behaviors, and have more positive emotions. Similarly, if you have an unhealthy or a negative identity, one that is fragile and susceptible to the doubts and the lies fed to you by society or by the enemy, you guessed it - you will have negative or unhealthy habits, behaviors, and emotions.
Here are some ways to strengthen your identity so you can have long-term success.
1. Identify and Eliminate Saying Negative Statements to Yourself:
Examples of unhealthy or negative identities include, but are not limited to:
- I am fat.
- I am lazy.
- I am stupid.
- I am a failure.
When we own these ideas, we immediately set up a bigger wall inside of ourselves that makes it even harder to climb over (essentially, to change). Thus, we reinforce our identity. Additionally - when we continue to believe these lies, we feed the enemy and keep ourselves further from the truth.
Now, consider if we stopped owning our human qualities as an identity. So instead of calling yourself fat (I'm fat, I will always be fat, I can't lose weight, this is who I am), you acknowledge you have fat (we literally ALL do, some just have more, some have less). Every time you catch yourself generalizing a quality into an "I am" type of statement, stop, pause, and reframe. Then, begin on step #2.
2. Start Building a Positive Identity.
After you've worked on limiting your negative identity, you can begin working on a positive identity. First you need to begin engaging in the behaviors you'd like to change. For example, if you are trying to become healthier or lose weight, begin an exercise routine or implement a healthier eating plan. If you are trying to be more productive, schedule times that you will accomplish tasks instead of watching tv or perusing social media. Reinforce these changes by measuring progress, using positive self-talk and surrounding yourself with a good support system, and continuing to implement the changes.
Once you have started to build new habits and behaviors, start restructuring your identity:
- I am healthy.
- I am capable.
- I am in control of my life.
This step is why affirmations are so effective. We say something over and over until our subconscious begins to believe it. If you're still having trouble, head to step #3.
3. Read The Bible.
The Bible is absolutely chock-full of truths about how God sees you- when you are having trouble recreating your own identity, go back to His word and read His Truth. Jesus loves you just as you are, but He also equips you with strength, power, and confidence when we invite Him into your heart. He knows us best, even when we do not know Him (Psalm 139:1).
If the Bible feels too overwhelming at this point, there are many great books available that will help you study the Bible! I also have many resources to help you build an identity in Christ - all you have to do is reach out!
Overall, our identity matters. When we think negatively (whether we are aware of it or not), we hinder our growth. God has designed so much more for us, He wants us to reach our full potential (Jeremiah 29:11), and not be haunted by Earthly things.
If you're ready to invite God into your heart, your health, or your life, consider joining our Facebook Community! We would love to have you!