Our identities incessantly morph. And this is a healthy, positive thing. Suffering comes from attachment, and when we’re dedicated to our identities, we become unwilling to let go, even of the ones that don’t serve us.
I used to live in Atlanta and identified with being a southerner. Now I live in Ohio and see myself as a mid-westerner. I used to work for the District Attorney’s office as a victim advocate. Now I teach yoga and write for a living. Trading snowless winters and suits and heels for bare feet, tank-tops and fourteen inches of snow in January has changed my perspective, and therefore how I go about the world.
Going deeper, why is it we believe that change is so much harder than staying the same? Change is certainly temporarily uncomfortable, but even when we know it brings us a myriad of gifts and increases the value of our lives, we resist.
Shedding certain identities to create space for a happier life is a big part of inviting a shift in how we view ourselves. We either choose change or learn how to deal with it when it inevitably lands in our laps.
How would you describe yourself to a stranger? Write down the identifiers you think are the most important for someone to know about you. And why are they important? How will that information help someone else know how to best relate to you, or what questions to ask you?
Take a moment to write down your most prevalent identities. Whether it’s two or forty-two, next to each one write down either ‘keep’ or ‘let go’. Here’s an example:
- Woman (keep)
- Sister (keep)
- Procrastinator (let go)
- Girlfriend (keep)
- Yoga teacher (keep)
- Long-hair (keep)
- Ruminator (let go)
- Writer (keep)
- Bad sleeper (let go)
- Wine-lover (keep)
- Dog-lover (keep)
- Reader (keep)
- Unsolicited advice-giver (let go)
- Bad cook (let go)
- Novelist (keep)
- Resource website for yoga lovers provider (keep)
- Overly Talkative (let go)
Next, write down identities you don’t currently possess but think you might like to. My boyfriend has long been obsessed with watches. He’s fascinated by the design and how they actually work. Yet, the man doesn’t even own a watch! What would you like to be known for that you’re currently not? How do you plan to take these new identities on? Here’s an example:
- Guitar Player (Buy a used guitar and sign up for ten guitar lessons.)
- Good Cook (Find five recipes with less than fifteen ingredients and keep making them until they actually taste good. Start here.)
- Great listener (Practice not interrupting, and ask at least five questions about the subject the other person is talking about.)
- Traveler (Book three trips to cities you’ve never visited.)
- Camper (Go camping. Deal with bugs and fear of bears.)
- Activist (Choose one cause you’re passionate about and invest time, effort, and money in supporting said cause.)
So many of our identifiers are things we revel in and have spent lots of time, effort and energy developing. These we keep and continue to cultivate. If there are parts of your identity that cause you stress and anxiety, take the time to figure out how to loosen their stranglehold and make room for new facets of you to develop. When we ask ourselves the question, “Who do I want to be?” perhaps we should tack on, “Who do I want to be right now?” The future you is waiting and unwritten.
By Lara Falberg
Founder at I Work Barefoot
Lara Falberg is not just a yoga sequencing and music addict. Mostly, but not entirely. She's an assistant editor and SEO consultant for Healing Lifestyles and has been teaching yoga for twelve years. Trained in Atlanta, now residing in Columbus Ohio. Her new website, iworkbarefoot.com, is a yoga teacher resource offering verbals cues, mini-sequences, class themes, and studio reviews. She wrote a novel, Yoga Train, about the yoga teacher training experience. Find it on Amazon for Kindle. You can follow Lara on Instagram(@iworkbarefoot), Facebook, and Twitter.
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