Have you ever been in what you thought was a casual conversation, and had a friend pull out an existential bitch slap?
I have. It was a random Tuesday at 10:30. We were having our normal “How’s it going?” call:
- Me: Business is stalled. I feel like there’s some missing piece I just haven’t figured out yet. And I’m so tired.
- Her: Our habits are based on what we believe about ourselves. So what part of your identity is driving the habits you’re living?
- Me: I’m tired. I’ve been tired for a long time.
- Me, as silent, body-shaking sobs came blubbering up, choking in my throat: Like, for years. Since the miscarriages. I started believing that my body and I weren’t good enough. Like I’m not good enough and I’m just too tired to do more. I hear myself say, “I’m tired,” over and over again.
- Her: That makes sense. Look, how do you act when you’re feeling tired?
- Me: I let things slide. Like almost everything… except, you know, keeping my people alive.
- Her: Like your business? Prospecting?
- Me: Oh my god. You’re absolutely right.
From the brink of burnout
That conversation was my call to arms. I was ready to be done with “tiredness.” I was at a breaking point. That thought that I wasn’t good enough and was too tired had kept me from doing what needed to be done for way too long.
It was a relief. Seeing the root-cause thought pattern was the first step to getting unstuck and recreating my identity.
Here’s how identity works
The practice of curating your thoughts is how to create the results you want on purpose for reasons you like.
EXERCISE: Your identity is the set of thoughts you think about yourself. What’s your identity?
What do you believe is true about you? How do you describe yourself to others when you meet them for the first time? What adjectives do you use? How do you express that? In words, deeds, clothes, relationships, your car? What do you choose to say about yourself in these ways?
Here are a few signs that it may be time to do identity-specific thought work for yourself:
- You’re not getting results you do want
- You are getting results you don’t want
- You feel stuck, anxious, sad, miserable, pitiful, etc.
- You never feel quite good enough, or worthy enough
- You keep finding yourself in the same old cycles of blame, drama, and disappointment
Here’s how crisis interacts with your identity
Anytime you’re in pain, those pain points are rising up exactly where thought work is needed. Inside your big, beautiful brain your subconscious knows that those are the beliefs that are no longer serving you. Like shoes you’ve outgrown, those thoughts and beliefs can irritate and downright hurt.
Entering a new normal
“Great,” you may be saying. “My identity needs an upgrade. Now what?”
Whatever your pain point is, it’s giving you laser-beam insight into exactly where your attention’s needed. This is the moment to think intentional thoughts that will help create your new results on purpose.
Here’s how to start shifting your thoughts – I call it Thought Curation:
- Observe and allow the feelings that come up. Name them in each moment. Feel them in your body.
“I feel anxious. My heart’s racing and my shoulders feel like bricks.”
- What thought immediately preceded that physical sensation?
“I don’t want to give this presentation, they’re gonna think I don’t know anything and I’m not prepared.”
- Do you believe that thought?
Do you believe you don’t know anything? Do you believe you’re not prepared?
If yes, what can you do about it?
If no, proceed to step 4.
- Stair-step to neutral. You can’t flip a switch happy thoughts that work. Instead get yourself to neutral, believable thought alternatives. Try by completing the phrase, “I am capable of…”
“I am capable of talking about this topic.” “I am capable of practicing this talk beforehand.” “I am capable of taking any questions I can’t answer in the moment offline for more research.”
Did you catch that identity-tweak? From the thought spiral of “I suck and I don’t know what I’m doing” to, “I’m capable of these next steps,” can literally shift your entire experience.
This is you taking back your identity and creating the results you want – on purpose.
You deserve to live a life fulfilled. Your thoughts and your identity will help you get there.
Tarah Keech is a Master Life Coach, a burnout prevention and recovery expert, and has a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and a resume of Fortune 100 consulting.
No, she can’t read your mind but she knows how your thoughts work and can help you see them and then use them so you can level up your life personally and professionally.
Basically, she’s a combination of strategist, mentor, and bestie. Except she gives you better advice than your friends do and she teaches you how your brain works so you can take informed action that creates real change.
If you’re hungry for a transformation professionally or personally and ready to live in alignment with your purpose and joy, join Tarah’s Level Up Group Coaching Membership where she helps smart leaders level up their businesses, careers, and lives.