In my post Ego-The False Self, I talked about how people can create a whole identity around items they own, positions they are in, and patterns of thought that they have. This is a more comprehensive and in depth exploration of that idea.
Every gain has its price.
If there is one universal principle of life, it is that one can never truly gain without first giving something in its exchange. If someone wants to earn substantial sums of money, they must find a way to be able to give substantial value to their customer’s life. If someone wants a muscle bound body, they must pay the price of discipline and rigorous exercise (or possibly the medical price that comes from steroid abuse). It’s simple. Examples of this can be seen in abundance all around us.
This is as true as 2 and 2 makes 4.
Let’s direct this concept now to the area of personal growth, as I assume this is the reason why you are currently reading this article.
Personal growth, as I see it, is really about identity change. If you want to do things better, you must become someone who DOES things better, otherwise you will be acting incongruently, and you will eventually revert back to your “regular” unsuccessful self. The results will only be temporary if there isn’t change on an identity level.
To become someone who “does things better” (as opposed to someone who occasionally acts like someone who does things better) we must think differently, feel differently, behave differently, interact with the world differently, and experience life differently.
Change does not come from thinking old thoughts as well as thinking new thoughts on top of them; we do not have the time of the day to start thinking double the thoughts. We must drop the old thoughts completely to make room for the new.
Some part of you must die for a new part to live.
If we want to grow to the next level, there must be identity level change; be it as a conscious process or an unconscious one. Identity level change means a new way of thinking, doing and experiencing; and for this to happen, the old ways must be completely left behind.
This may sound startling for you to read, and if it does, then that is a good sign.
I once heard a man I admire say “the boy must die for the man to live.” This really shook the pillars of my reality at a time when this was so very relevant in my life, which is why I remember it so well. It implied that there is no middle ground between infanthood and manhood, but rather it is a threshold that once crossed there is no turning back; a metaphorical “line in the sand”. That is identity change.
The old self must be left out to die for the new self to live. Perhaps this is the meaning of “death and rebirth” mentioned in the bible, I don’t know. What I do know is that there is no way to move on to the “next level” while clinging desperately to the old one.
How we go about this change is different for each and every person. This is because it is an extremely personal process that can last several months or even several years.
There is no way I can discuss how one actually goes about change in specifics, but I can tell you that it all starts with a state of mind. Thought leads to action, actions leads to habit, habits lead to character.
Start with the inside first.