Is Your Identity Chained Up?

Thursday, January 14, 2016
Moving forward by releasing your old identity.

Have you been striving to reach that next level only to feel held back by some unseen force? You’ve read a multitude of articles on writer’s block, rearranged your office, adjusted your schedule, and changed your diet… Still, tomorrow looks just like yesterday and next month doesn’t look any different. I’m joking a bit, but the truth is that stagnation isn’t funny; it hurts. We blame ourselves for not achieving our goals, wondering in what way we fall short. Sometimes we do need discipline, or more practice. However, the one factor most people don’t question is their identity or “sense of self,” and the need to let it go.

You’re probably thinking, “Wait! I thought I needed to build my identity—my voice, my brand…” Yes, but I’m talking about the subconscious agreements and self-judgments of who you think you are. Many of us try to pull a new experience into an old life, only to find efforts sabotaged by our outdated identity. The barricade usually lies in one of three areas; subconscious agreements, how other people perceive us, or holding onto the past. Even though the old habits feel bad, they offer a sense of security. The truth is that some things are just unhealthy, and the rules of conduct must change. The quickest way I can think of to illustrate this concept is to share one of my own stories.

Change happens incrementally by result of our everyday choices, but sometimes we experience the catalyst for an overhaul. One of my most recent growth opportunities came by way of my sister (I’ll spare you the heart wrenching details). The point though, is that I found myself in a situation where I had to create some hard boundaries—and not just with my sister! What began as a disagreement between her and my significant other spread into the entire family. Honestly, it felt like a game of kick-the-can…and I was the can. Finally, I reached my limit. Planting my feet, I spoke my truth—declaring that I was finished with being stepped upon and kicked around. I thought creating boundaries was end of the lesson; I was wrong, it was the beginning.

The next few months revealed layers of limiting self-judgments created by; my subconscious agreement with “family rules,” my perceived place in the family, and the guilt I donned as a child for my sister’s unhappiness. Some of these beliefs were:
  • I can never allow myself to surpass the accomplishments of other family members.
  • I’m responsible for my sister’s unhappiness because I took her place as “the baby,” therefore, I need to placate to her (which means remaining under her thumb, dumbing myself down, and accepting verbal and emotional abuse).
  • Keeping the peace is more important than truth.
Unspoken agreements such as these, along with the projections of others, are two areas that often play into those “unseen forces”. What are projections? The judgments others make about you.

How many of us have had to face the accusation that since we work at home, we don’t really “work”? Or, that if we don’t have a degree we are unintelligent? In my family, the projections are that 1) I’m divorced and therefore difficult to live with or, 2) that I’ve had several careers and therefore I’m irresponsible. I can’t control how others see me, but I can choose whether to wear their projected identity!

So far, we’ve talked about self-judgments in the form of unspoken agreements, and self-judgments formed by how others see us. The third area to review is self-judgments related to our past. What can I say? We all have one! I can offer you this--when you find that you are holding yourself accountable for your experiences, try holding yourself with compassion and forgiveness instead. Your past will always be part of you, but you are not your past.

The key to releasing a worn-out identity is to see yourself as you truly are (on the inside—the emerging you) without judgment or fear. Review limiting beliefs with your heart, not your mind. Replace outdated agreements with truth. Before you know it, those chains will fall away and tomorrow will no longer look like yesterday.

By Robyn Chausse


Angela Mackintosh said...

Thoughtful post, Robyn! I admit I've been caught up with limiting thinking in the past--like who I think I'm supposed to be rather than who I really am--and it's held me back from doing what I really want to do. I like your approach of treating yourself with compassion and forgiveness. I don't have anything to add, but you've made me ponder. Thank you! :)

Robyn Chausse said...

Thanks, Angela :)

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