I remember winning on the Grand National with a tri-cast bet back in 1984. The Grand National was something that I'd grown up with: we'd watched it as a family over the years.
I bought a second-hand car with my winnings, which turned out to be a bad buy and I soon spent a lot of extra money on major repairs before the car was stolen one Sunday night, the night before the MOT was being done, so it ended up that I wasn’t legally insured and received no insurance compensation payment. Very unfortunate. Very me.
At the time I never would have considered myself to be a lucky person. A trail of tragic events had held my family at bay, in grief, trauma and sadness for a 9-year period when I was aged 10 – 18. That period had only come off the boil 3 years previously and things were still not great: I was renting a room with a friend after my parents had split up and sold the family home, about 6 months prior to that Grand National day. So I guess it's fair to say I really didn’t consider myself to be a lucky kind of guy; I was probably even laying-in-wait for the next tragedy to strike, which in many ways was completely understandable.
I guess on a coaching level, had I sat myself down and asked a few questions on the day of the race, the writing was probably already on the wall.
Q. What kind of person do you think you are?
A. Not so lucky, I guess.
Q. What’s the real reason you believe that specifically?
A. Life’s been like that for me.
Q. Have you ever been lucky?
A. I guess so, when I was much younger.
Q. Finish this statement. The reason my life is the way it is, is because…
A. We’re an unlucky family.
Q. And this statement: The REAL reason my life is like this is because…
A. Somebody up there doesn’t like me.
The truth is, I'd had many things happen to me that were what you would consider to be lucky, but inside I didn’t feel that way and so didn’t notice things that would support ‘I’m lucky’ as a reality for me. (Remember my blog about Beliefs?)
The greatest questions you can ask yourself are around the issue of identity and self-image. And so they should be. Identity beliefs and statements affect so much of our personality, actions and behaviours and directly influence our moment-by-moment life experiences that it is imperative there be a high level of importance surrounding the world of ‘WHAT KIND OF PERSON DO I THINK I AM?’.
Your reality accurately reflects your beliefs about your identity. Your actions completely align with and support who you believe you are, and your greatest motivational pushes come from an absolute inner requirement to be integral to the way in which you define yourself. That's right... The way in which YOU define yourself.
We may have had an identity belief passed to us from someone else - a teacher, a friend, a relation or whoever. What's important to remember here is that we have the ability to let go of any beliefs that no longer support us. I remember a particular teacher who, because I was left handed, told me I'd never amount to anything if I continued to write and draw with my left hand and he even decided it was within his rights to say, in front of the whole class I might add, 'Only idiots use their left hands to write and draw,' then he demanded I use my right hand, which of course presented me a real problem, and I tried. He was standing-in for the morning so didn't really know me and wasn't aware that at the time I was considered by my classmates to be the best drawer in the school, a status I was very proud of, and he obviously never knew about Lewis Carroll, H.G. Wells, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Einstein, Aristotle and other cool left-handers like Lord Nelson, Neil Armstrong, Monroe, Hendrix, Pele, Navratilova, Garland, Chaplin, Churchill, Joan of Arc and Bobby Charlton to name but a few. And maybe he'd have thought twice about inflicting a possible character assassination on me if he'd known about Henry Cooper's left hand HAMMER! Oh, we can dream... What a moment that would've been: News Headline: Schoolteacher knocked out by tubby child in front of packed classroom. 3 left-handed kids told off for cheering.
I guess the real problem was I actually liked the guy and trusted his opinion so a little belief in his ridiculous attack on me must have settled into me. I remember trying to write with my right hand for a while but it just didn't do it for me. I do however know that even though I was a child in the company of an adult I trusted it still came down to me in the end, whether I believed him or not. It's us that own these beliefs and we can choose now to let them go. And we can also choose to enable our children to be more resilient to the outside negative influences of irresponsible others.
So… I'm curious to know... What kind of person do you think you are?
Make an honest list of ten 'I am' statements, e.g., I am blessed. I am frightened. I am bold. I am shy.
Let it all out, faults and all. Start there right now, before you read on.
Now you can help uncover some more of your core identity definitions by finishing the following statements:
The reason my life is the way it is, is because I am ________________________________
My relationships turn out the way they do because I am ____________________________
My childhood was the way it was because I was _________________________________
People treat me the way they do because I am ___________________________________
My financial situation is the way it is because I am ________________________________
I always seem to end up in the same situation because I am _________________________
My health is the way it is because I am _________________________________________
My levels of success are the way they are because I am ____________________________
And please feel free to add your own personalised statements.
Now just make a rough guess at when you first started to believe these definitions of yourself and your abilities. Put a date/year next to them now.
It's also quite liberating to identify where you think the belief might have come from: Did someone give it to you? If so who? Did you attach to it yourself? Was there a book, a film or a character - real or fictional - you associated with that led to you having that belief? This will really aid you in letting go of the belief.
I’m guessing some of these previous identity decisions are quite old - in some cases even decades old - and the fact is they have become the defining framework and status quo for your outcomes, levels of success and happiness in your life. It’s great if you’ve got all supportive identity statements in place. It’s a real tragedy if they’re limiting you and working against you. Even controlling you. They are a real yet hidden burden: Basically, they are great big balls and chains!
I have had the displeasure of having some seriously hindering balls and chains. And I developed them when I was quite young. They affected the way I stood, breathed, thought, walked, acted, played and communicated: It can be restrictive in every area of life as they unconsciously tie you down. Most of the time you don't even recognise it as a limiting force working against you, you simply struggle along – sometimes even with a bounce - with the belief that that’s just who you are. And you adapt, e.g., curb your enthusiasm, play it safe, don’t expect to move much, avoid the stresses of trying or failing, abandon your dreams, keep it real so people will like you or feel safe with you, even respect you. In some cases these limitations become so heavy and restraining that you can simply end up giving up and existing, rather than living. And as you journey through life these unforgiving restraints can end up grinding you to a halt, and you can even end up buried under your balls and chains. And that stinks!
These hidden restrictions can be passed through the generations: Children can unwittingly develop them and own them too. Boys and girls alike. Balls and chains placed upon them, unconsciously much of the time, by the people who love them most. "Happy Birthday, little one. Here... put these on." And it goes on. And much of the time it's not even realised. But it's a cycle that can be broken. You can... snap out of it.
Identity is something that is instrumental and influential to the degree that if you work on it and decide you’d like to make changes to the statements and declarations concerning the sort of person that you think you are, your whole life will be influenced. All it takes is some really achievable, worthwhile effort.
So how would life be if you were to break free from your balls and chains?
To be able to break free, all it takes is real determination and a strong dedication to something clearly bigger, better and more beneficial than what you are experiencing at the present moment.
I’ve just remembered something that is relevant.
One sunny Autumn day I was sitting on a park bench quietly contemplating life, or my next move or something, when a dog scampered towards me, sniffed around my rucksack on the ground, sniffed around my feet, then circled in front of me wagging it’s tail in blissful doggy vibes. It was a seriously happy dog. Immediately it made me feel playful. Suddenly a well-to-do female voice shouted out, “Tiggy. Tiggy come here. Come on Tiggy... That’s nobody.” It took a moment then it hit me. Eh? Nobody? Is that where I’m at? I was quite taken aback. I looked over at the woman. Charming, I thought. Was the Universe delivering me a clear message of who I truly believed I was? Maybe. I believe it can happen. “I haven’t been called that in years. Not since school.” I commented humorously, which caused a sudden flush of pink to cover her face. She apologised – which was unnecessary - then scurried away, Tiggy following her then running ahead to find somebody… It really made me think. Nobody? Anyway…
So… Are you ready to now consider making influential changes to your beliefs about who you believe you are, and effectively change your life experiences?
If so, take a look at your list and begin detecting the unhelpful actions and behaviours that you consistently do, so as to keep all the negative identity level beliefs true. Things like: I sit down too often. I criticise others. I don’t make the calls. I let the place get messy. I'm scared. I lay in bed too long. I moan a lot. I watch too much TV. I eat too much. I make mistakes. I don’t speak to people. I’m easily distracted. I procrastinate. I doubt myself.
You get the idea. Write them down.
Now check down your original lists of 'I AM' statements and simply put in the opposite equal to all the limiting definitions you gave: The ones that you can honestly agree would hold you back. Make a firm and positive statement as an opposite equal. For instance:
The reason my life is the way it is, is because I am ________LAZY_______1985___
The opposite equal would be along the lines of FULL OF ENERGY, FULL OF LIFE, or ACTIVE AND EFFECTIVE.
NOTE: To change it to NOT LAZY is remaining in the negative. Luckily I remembered to mention that little nugget.
Write down the opposite equal positive definitions to all of your limiting definitions now.
Now take a good look at your new identity definitions. Is that a good fit? Do you like the way it looks and sounds? Make any adjustments you'd like to make. These become your new identity statements. Read over them again now, and get a feel for it all: Imagine, this is you.
Read them again and this time really feel what it's like to own these new positive qualities. Really feel them even more now.
Now write the answers to these simple questions, referring to your new list:
1. What would a person like this believe about their capabilities?
2. What kind of expectations would this person have?
3. What kind of places would they hang out?
4. What kind of things would this person do in their lives each day, so as to keep a momentum going and keep achieving happiness?
5. What kind of experiences would this person like to have?
6. How does this person feel?
7. What must this person have on their list of ‘must have’ standards and values?
8. In what ways would this person like to grow even more?
9. What must you do differently on a day-to-day basis, in order for you to keep in line with this list of ‘I AM’ definitions?
10. How does this person contribute to the lives of others?
11. How would this person be able to give, and make improvements to the world?
Now take a look at your lists and answers and take just a little more time to determine some more actions and behaviours you can follow through with, so as to keep all this identity level beliefs stuff true. Things like: I exercise. I always make the calls. I happily make a list of things to do. I enthusiastically keep my place tidy. I use my time well… You get the idea. Whatever works well for you. This is quality fuel for your new you.
Now imagine living this way and imagine how you’ll feel living this way. Imagine it all as clear as possible. Feel it fully.
Now commit to the actions and behaviours you've listed. 'I commit to...'
This can be the new you. This can be how you act in life. This can easily be the new true you. You've already felt its greatness. Enjoy it. Bring it on!
There’s a lot of truth in the statement I AM WHATEVER I THINK I AM.
Consider the truth in an epitaph that reads:
WHO I THOUGHT I WAS
NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS
So… Who do you now choose to believe you are? I hope you've really gone for it! All out.
And know this: Once you decide who you are now, what actions you must make now and onwards, and what your life must be like from this point forward, you’ll find ways to make it happen. And it'll find its way to you.
‘You are the golden key to every door that has ever been closed. Know this and be yourself.’ Marvin
And if you happen to see me strolling or striding along the road, shout over and tell me who you really are. And in case we never meet I want you to know that one day there’ll be a stone or a plaque that’ll read something along the lines of:
A HAPPY AND FULFILLED PERSON
WHO LOVED LIFE
AND LOVED LIVING LIFE TO THE MAX
AND LOVED LIVING LIFE TO THE MAX
IN EVERY WAY EVERY DAY
“WOW! WHAT A RIDE!
KEPT GETTING BETTER AND BETTER!
Thanks for reading.
Author of Bish and the Magic Bow & Arrow