Identity Development Toolkit

Technique for Coaches

by Doug Cartwright.

What do you do when someone has a strongly held belief about their 'identity' that is so powerful that they can't imagine letting it go? What do you do? What can you do?

With identity statements a single question can loosen them up - or you may need to 'chip away' at the person's reasons for identifying with a particular concept questioning the illogic of their psychologics.

The following ideas can be applied individually or to create a critical mass of disbelief that will open up the client to the possibility of a new identity, or possibly to not need to have an 'identity' at-all on the particular issue he/she is working with. It's like 'decommissioning' a mindset!

What is an identity?

In linguistic terms when we identify with something we make ourselves equal to it. In our heads we equate our 'selves' with ideas, people, ways of thinking and perceiving – in fact we can do it with any kind of perception.

If it were to be a formula it would look like this:

I AM equal to THIS IDEA

I = concept

Example 1: I am stupid;

Example 2: I am a father/mother/fireman etc

Example 3: I = not that kind of person/that kind of person (who exercises, holds a grudge etc)

In other words, the construction of the formula makes everything that YOU ARE (I) mentally equal to the ideas that make up that concept. So if you believe you are not a financially minded kind of person it precludes and excludes you from accepting any beliefs that you are or can be. If you believe you ARE stupid then you have equated every aspect of your being and doing with stupidness. And your mind, ever obliging tries to make your belief true and to find evidence for it!

When we say 'I AM', we actually ARE NOT (or do not equal) anything. Our selves are not the exact equivalent of any idea. Two things cannot be exactly the same in every way. Think about it. Even an atom is not exactly identical to another. If you burp, does that make you a 'burper'? At all times? Everywhere?

Is it not rather that we choose to take on and use the kind of thoughts and actions that we associate with 'that kind of person' as having; we value the kind of things they value, we use the kind of beliefs and attitudes they have, and then we raise up a mental level and say – yes, I want to be THAT kind of a person…?

Is saying "I am not that kind of person" simply saying I do not use or possess the (matrix, mindset and actions, beliefs and values) of people who I could identify and classify as belonging to that particular group of people who do that thing!

In fact, to be of a 'kind' is to be of a 'kin', which is to belong to a family or group. And families often have certain traits, characteristics and ways of acting, and reacting and speaking.

So to be that 'kind' of person is to be someone who thinks and acts and speaks in a recognisable pattern or regularity.
The purpose of the following pattern is to help you consider what it would be like to develop the thinking and acting patterns of a person who gets the results you want.

The Pattern

  1. What 'kind' of a person are you?

(Example: I'm an angry person! I'm the kind of person who keeps a grudge!'

Write down as many answers as come to mind.

  1. What kind of a person are you not?

    (Example: I'm not a financially minded kind of person, I'm not a pro-active person)

    Write down as many answers as come to mind.

  2. Do you ever feel you could not be x because you are not a y kind of person?

Example: I cannot be rich because I am not a financially minded kind of person.

  1. How does it affect you to not be able to think like a y kind of person? Where does it limit you? Sabotage you? Do you need to be a y kind of person?

  2. If you are finding it difficult that you could think like a y type of person...

Are you sure enough about your certainty to be unsure?
What if this belief about your identity was just a belief and not real?
Do you have permission to consider that there might be alternative ways of thinking about this?
Does allowing exceptions mean that I HAVE to change?
What would the advantage of allowing conflicting evidence if it exists?
What would be the disadvantage?
What is the worst that could happen if I allowed conflicting evidence?
What could be the best that could happen if I allowed conflicting evidence?

  1. Creating a ‘what if’ area

What if there was a holding area where I could test out the differences that new perception could make?
What if created a ‘what if I could’ area?
Could I create a ‘what if I could’ area?
What would that be like?
Could I allow myself the experience of trying on and testing new experiences, mindsets, selves and behaviours without actually HAVING to take them on permanently?
What if I could take on a new identity and try it out like a piece of clothing? Maybe I just need permission to – maybe it doesn't have to affect me on a permanent basis?

  1. Permission to try on new ways of thinking and acting

If you took on the beliefs and values of people who 'are' like that, would you then identify yourself as one of them, as a person who… or the kind of person who…

Or would it be enough to be able to think and act like them and get similar results to them without having to become a y kind of person?

Example: I am a father (because I father (verb), and I take the actions, speak the words, believe the beliefs of, own the, have the role of, status of a father etc).

"I can learn to think and speak and act and value and pursue the same outcomes as these people. I can learn to think like people who have expertise financially and prosper well; I can live according to biblical principles; live pro-actively by valuing the bits they value that enable them to be successful.

  1. So if you were to identify yourself as the kind of person who y (e.g. dealt well with your finances):

What sort of things would you value?

What sort of things would you believe?

What sort of outcomes would you pursue?

What sort of strategies would you need to employ to get those outcomes?

What sort of performances would you pursue?

What type of aims would you have?

What resources would you make use of?

How would you use your time?

Where would you focus your attention?

What would your intentions be?

What kind of people would you mix with? Get advice from? Listen to? Ignore?

What worlds would you explore? Move into? Read more about? Visit trainings and conferences about?

  1. Once you have some answers, what can you do to start integrating them into your life and testing them...?


2009 Doug Cartwright All rights reserved.