The story that plays most loudly inside your head defines your perception of reality. If you are anxious about making a mistake, you will approach every decision with extreme caution, fearful of taking a wrong turn. If you believe you’re invincible, you are likely to make careless and potentially dangerous mistakes.
It’s important to distinguish between identity, trait, and behavior.
Identity (who):Something that defines your very existence, the source of who you are, the most reliable thing about you.
Trait (what):A tendency that is often exhibited but that isn’t a part of your core identity.
Behavior (how):A reaction or response to the world in a moment.
We often promote rare behaviors to traits (“It’s just the kind of thing I do”) and promote traits to identity (“I cannot perform well under pressure. I cave.”).
You are not the sum of your worst behaviors, just as you are not limited to your visible traits. Don’t enclose yourself in a false and limiting story. Who you are is not the sum of the things you’ve done.
Be mindful of the story you tell yourself about who you are and what you’re capable of accomplishing. Don’t artificially bound your creativity.
Do you ever elevate a behavior or trait into an identity? What is it, and how has it affected you?