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What is the power of our identity? And how does it drive our behavior?


Have you ever tried to make changes in your life, but ended up being frustrated? You want to change the direction of your life, yet you find yourself on the same road again and again? 

Meanwhile, we admire those people who seem to change directions and decide where they want to go and go there. In her book Jane Eyre, author Charlotte Brontë’s main character Jane said “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” She said this to push back against societal and human pressure around her to conform to their standards. 

What is it that makes some people stand firm and choose their own path? The answer might be in knowing their identity. 


Psychologists, researchers and scientists have long been invested in understanding human behavior. Our personal or self-identity is described as our mental representation about who we are. It is composed of our life memories, characteristics, beliefs, motivations, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about ourselves. 

Interestingly, we are continuously constructing and reconstructing our self-identity! In addition, our habits become part of it. 

Research supports the idea that the more we build a certain identity, the more we form positive attitudes and  form personal beliefs of power over a given behavior. This means that when our identity is closely related to our actions, behaviors and habits that have meaning and value, we are more likely to do them. 

Examine the ‘Why” 

Some schools of thought say that what we think about, we become. Even when these are conscious or subconscious thoughts, our actions are influenced by what we think about. So when making a decision to change, first, we can ask ourselves these questions. 

  1. How do I see myself? Who am I? (identity) 
  2. What situation am I facing now? 
  3. If I am (identity), then what would I do in this situation? 

Asking these questions allows you to see how you see yourself first and redirects the feeling of control to you, and away from the situation. Secondly, you are able to assess the specifics of the situation. Lastly, you get to decide based on the meaning and value of your actions. 

Avoid relying merely on motivation 

There are days when we are highly motivated and making a change comes easy. Unfortunately, motivation and willpower do not last. They get depleted. Merely relying on the power of motivation and the will tends to burn us out. 

First go back to what you think of yourself, so you can make the change more sustainable. 

Assess yourself and become aware

In order to grow to the person you want to become, you can start with knowing where you currently are. Here are some questions you can ask yourself. 

1. What habits have you tried to establish many times but have failed? Or what habits have you tried to break several times but could not? What change in your self-identity can you make so that you can see yourself breaking or establishing that habit? 

2. What habits do you currently have that bring the most meaning and value to your life? What can you do to further increase its influence on you? 

3. Whom do you know has habits that you admire? What areas in their self-identity motivates them to keep up with their habits? If it is hard to answer, you can ask them. 

You are able to change your behaviors. It is not yet too late.  Look inwardly and discover your self-identity. You have the power to make the change you desire to see! 

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What is the power of our identity? And how does it drive our behavior?
Brandon Resasco