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Leftfield 101: Mindset - Identity Theft
By: Leftfield Training

“Perhaps it's impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be."
- Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game


So we know that habits form through a process of cue, routine and reward. We understand the power of keystone habits and ideally, we have the two biggest keystones, in exercise and meditation, working their magic in our daily life.

Now we need to ensure these habits stick.

What we do repeatedly - what we spend time thinking about and doing each day forms who we are, the things we believe, and the personalities we portray. Usefully, this also works in reverse.

Got ID?

If you remember back to how those with a fixed mindset immediately dismiss anything that is inconsistent with their idea of who they are.

- “I'm not a maths person"

- "I don't play tennis"

Any disconnect between thought and behaviour is called cognitive dissonance, and this curse of the undercover cop is a psychological discomfort that we will always look to resolve, even subconsciously.

This means that if we can adopt the beliefs and mindset of those we wish to emulate, we will begin to behave in that manner also. Just as importantly, we will eliminate the behaviours that are not consistent with it.

Take your pick:

1. "Here, have a donut."
"No thanks, (I’m trying to lose weight) I better not."

(Woe is me. Living a life of rules and restrictions, on yet another diet. Surely one donut can’t hurt, they look damn good.)

This is a boring, yet inevitable debate needs to be cut off at the knees.

2. "Here, have a donut."
"No thanks, (I’m an athlete), I don’t eat donuts."

(End of story. Empowered. In control. Calling the shots)

If you can start with personality and belief your actions will follow suit. Stop wanting it. Start being it - eating donuts is just not me.

Even more helpful is that when we adopt a new identity rather than just a specific behaviour, it is multi-faceted:

- What does that person eat and drink?
- What does their fridge look like?
- What do they eat when they are out?
- How often do they exercise?
- How much sleep do they get?
- These all become obvious extensions of the one idea. It's very common when projecting to get our wires crossed, easy to forget that other people are a reflection of their behaviour also.

"I wish I had a body like that, I could eat what I want."

In assuming another identity, we are forced to go a bit deeper than this sort of mistaken, defensive thinking and also to confront whether or not what we want is even realistic. Despite its reliance, at least initially, on imagination, it's strange that assuming an identity can, in fact, help to ground our ideals, our fantasies, firmly in reality. In going on a little mental journey inside another life, do we really find Tims Tams in their cupboards? Do they spend all weekend eating pizza and drinking booze?


Your new identity can be whatever you like. See what appeals and then just take it. Pick something that is aligned with where you want to be and how you want to (realistically) live your life. Then just get on with it.

Not chasing, wishing, trying, or buying. Just BE-ing.

James Clear writes brilliantly about this in the Huffington Post (and his blog), in particular detailing the different layers of behaviour change. We start with just assuming this new identity - essentially acting it, but, as Clear writes, and as cognitive dissonance demands, we also have to prove it to ourselves. This is yet one more reason why we focus on developing small habits first. These are the easy wins that help to affirm your new identity, with each adding another layer of authenticity.

As ever, this depends on awareness. Thinking about how you’re living in each moment, living with deliberate intent and concentrating only on the process. In this manner, your appearance or performance based goals are decided - a fait accompli.

Unfortunately, as is all too often the case with motivation, ordinarily the carrot isn't enough. Which can only mean one thing - stick time.

"I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life."
- George Burns

From Homer, we learn the tale of Ulysses (Odysseus in Greek). On his journey home from the Trojan Wars, Ulysses sailed close to the Sirenusian Islands - the home of the fabled Sirens, their songs luring ships to their destruction.

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Added: 27-11-2015