A Coaching Power Tool Created by Olivia Cheung
(Life Coach, AUSTRALIA)
Pay attention to your thoughts, because they become words.
Pay attention to your words, because they become actions.
Pay attention to your actions, because they become habits.
Pay attention to your habits, because they become your character.
Pay attention to your character, because it is your fate.
– From the Talmud –
- Who are you?
- What kind of person are you?
- How would you describe yourself?
- Who do you identify yourself with?
- What is true about you?
- Who do you think you are?
Everything in life, from the decisions we make to the actions we take, stem from the perceptions, values and beliefs we have about ourselves and the world.
Formed from our childhood, experiences and our environment, these beliefs have the power to strengthen us or disable us. They can give us confidence and determination to drive us forward in life, or create fear, insecurity, anxiety and worry and hold us back from reaching our potential.
Take note of what happens to you when you encounter a problem. How do you react? Do you start panicking? Are you a worrier or stresser? Which voices speak to you when things don’t go the way you want or expect them to? Your response to the situation depends on the foundation in which your identity is built upon. What are your values? What are your underlying beliefs? What do you stand for? How will you get through this?
It always boils back to the simple question: “Who are you?”
Our identity is the fundamental catalyst for what happens next. Knowing who we are has a direct impact on how we choose to look at the situation, whether we go through a positive or negative experience (despite the physical implications), and the actions we decide to take next in response to what’s happened.
When we don’t know our identity, a number of things can happen:
- We feel ‘stuck’, uncertain about what to do next, feeling frustrated because we don’t know what the ‘right’ or ‘best’ thing to do next - because we don’t know what we want;
- We can be indecisive, or procrastinate about making decisions, because of fear and doubt about ourselves and our ability;
- We start to question and blame ourselves for why things aren’t working: “It must be because I’m not intelligent/beautiful/funny enough.” “Maybe they think I’m strange.” “Maybe it’s my personality.” “It’s probably because I’m a failure.” “I’m disorganized and can’t get my act together.” “I am useless.” “I’m incompetent and incapable.”
- We allow other people or outside voices to influence our decisions, whose experiences and values are different and possibly contradicting to our own;
- We can end up living someone else’s life;
- We end up living unhappy, dissatisfied, meaningless and unfulfilled lives.
But when we understand how our experiences, background and values influence our identity, then we can be confident and certain about which steps to take next, no matter what event comes. We don’t waste time on worrying about the outcome and what we don’t know; rather, we focus on the things we do know – ourselves, our ability and our potential.
Mahatma Gandhi said, All change starts within.
So for any action or change to happen, we start with our thoughts: our identity – who we think we are.
So the question remains….who are you?
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.– Buddha –
“I AM” Statements
“I am” statements are powerful, decisive, conclusive statements. When we say “I am XX” or “I am not XX”, we are revealing things we feel and believe to be true; truths that uncover and drive our self-esteem, self-perception, and motivation behind our actions.
“I am” statements create momentum and action – depending what those “I am” statements are. They can be encouraging, affirmative statements, such as, “I am courageous” “I am loved” “I am a wonderful wife and mother”. These affirmations build us up, give us confidence and security about our identity, and ultimately move us forward in taking positive actions for our lives.
Disempowering statements however, do the complete opposite; statements such as “I am a mess”, “I am a failure” and the most common belief, “I am not good enough”, keep us stuck from reaching our goals. Of course, sometimes we don’t give it much thought, passing remarks such as “I am so stressed!” “I am a klutz!” and “I am livid with rage and could punch someone right now!”. Such expressions can just be an emotional reaction to an immediate event, and we don’t really think much of it afterwards.
But whilst it may be just a game of semantics, it’s the meaning behind these statements that really matter, and what these words mean for us personally. Does this belief help or hinder me? Does it empower and engage me to move towards my goal? Or does it disempower and discourage me, keeping me stuck in my position?
Some beliefs may not fall into either of these categories. Things like “I am vulnerable” “I am dependent” “I am not different” may neither be positively or negatively inclined – it may be a neutral thought, without any emotional attachment, and doesn’t move you forward or backwards. For some, declaring “I am dis-organised” “I am indecisive” “I am a perfectionist” “I am my own worst enemy” may just be a self-acknowledgment of our perceived truths, or just a ‘fact’ – after all, none of us are perfect, and acknowledging and accepting our weaknesses and flaws can actually act as power instead.
The core of all “I am” beliefs is that they are the root cause for any decisions, actions and movements in our lives. By knowing or not knowing what makes up our identity has a direct impact on what we experience in life. Whether life throws us chocolates or lemons, “I am” beliefs are crucial to how we view and handle our relationships and events; and if we don’t actively choose to direct our thoughts in a forward, positive manner, whatever thoughts remain will have a profound impact on our self-belief and ultimately self-worth, holding us back from our goals and reaching our potential.