What is Identity Shift?
Change happens in an instant. All the time and any time that anyone has ever made a change in their life, it has happened in a moment.
Have you believed what they told you? That change is hard and takes forever. Were you listening to them when they told you all the things about yourself as though they knew what was going on?
On an earlier post I addressed how change happens in an instant, but today I am going to show you exactly how change can work.
Robert Dilts was one of the most renown thinkers of NLP since its inception and contributor with Richard Bandler and John Grinder. He had found the following model of how the mind works:
Through this model, change can be understood in a different way. Growing up our environment shapes our behavior, our competencies, our beliefs and then who we are. Generally who we are is going to be the strongest here. Have you ever noticed that when you change who you are, all of these other hierarchies change along with it?
Let’s look at a specific example.
Rhonda grew up in a household where her parents spoiled her with candy and sweets (Environment). Through growing up with all of these environmental influences, she developed behaviors such as never saying no to chocolate. As time progressed this became a habit for her to continuously say yes to chocolate. Then Rhonda developed deep beliefs and values supporting her chocolate addiction. Finally to reinforce everything that Rhonda had been doing from an early age, she had to have an identity as an unhealthy person.
Rhonda comes to me stating that she wants to lose 40 pounds and I recognize that she has several options for change.
She can change her environment, but this will have little impact on who she is as an unhealthy person or what she believes and values in life. Unless of course she moved to a far away country where they didn’t even have chocolate, but then she might find more ways to keep her unhealthy identity.
Rhonda can change her behavior. This will impact her relationship with chocolate, but won’t be strong enough if she has a strong belief that she needs to eat chocolate and the value for chocolate in her life is unchanged.
After observing Rhonda, the most impactful change that can be made in helping her lose weight is by helping her to find a new identity within herself. We can change all of her habits, behaviors, and even beliefs separately, but the biggest change here can happen when Rhonda no longer sees herself as the type of person who indulges in chocolate.
This is why change can be so hard and I have to tell you, for a change to really last it’s going to be most beneficial to be impacted on all levels.
Let’s look at all Rhonda has done before coming to us at this moment for changing her life.
- Rhonda got rid of all the chocolate in her house. This was an environmental shift.
- She no longer ate chocolate. She thought about it less. She still craved it and valued it immensely so this was rather difficult, but she was doing it.
- Rhonda develops a habit for avoiding chocolate in her life. She is successful, but she still has this inner conflict with how much she values the treat in her life.
- She relapses by going to the store and buying more chocolate. Rhonda didn’t have to, but she was absolutely craving it. She valued it in her life and she felt absolutely compelled to go and get some more chocolate. Rhonda feels terrible about herself and her relapse.
Sometimes this process can work for sure. If Rhonda works really hard and abstains from chocolate then she will eventually get there, where she will have changed different parts of her life, starting with the environment and behaviors, and ultimately becoming a different person.
But change doesn’t have to take that long or be that hard.
For Rhonda she has really identified herself as this person who eats chocolate or who is unhealthy, but just as a disclosure not all problems are going to deal with someone’s identity. Some will be a simple change in environment or behavior that will do the trick, but let’s look at the identity change that will help Rhonda here.
When someone has aligned themselves with an identity that no longer suits them and wants to change that identity, we can help them in a moment to become someone new and alter all of the support levels of the hierarchy presented above.
Specifically with Rhonda, I would do a process so that she could see herself being a healthy person. Her desire to become that person likely will compel her to really take on that new identity.
When Rhonda takes on this new identity of being healthy, everything below it on her logical levels shifts. She no longer values chocolate or believes she needs to have it in her life. Rhonda develops new competencies for eating healthily because that is who she is. Her behavior changes and then she is likely also to change her environment, throwing away all of the chocolate in her house.
Rhonda can now be happy in the change that she has made. Looking at herself with new eyes she can really enjoy being the healthy person that she has envisioned for herself, but for this change to stay in place, one more thing has to be done.
When Rhonda becomes a new person in her mind, she will also have to become a new person in her external reality. This means aligning her environment with this new identity. If she goes back to her old life and is surrounded by chocolate again then she has an incentive to go back to her old behaviors and thus she can go back to that old identity again. And unfortunately, that is where she doesn’t lose those 40 pounds.
The amazing part though is that Rhonda already has an idea of just what it takes to change in an instant to become that new and healthful person. If it is the case where she slips back into old habits and reverts, then she can just change again, quickly and easily.
Rhonda can now live life more happily, having the option of changing her mind and allowing herself to change who she is, Rhonda can be much more able to achieve her goal of losing 40 pounds now that she knows how to change and has the incentive to do so.
This is just one example of how change can work. What is insightful is how quick we humans can learn. We just have to take action and really go after what we want. When doing so, we quickly learn and can better align our minds to really getting what we want.
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