Have you ever had a crush on someone? Do you remember suddenly seeing the person everywhere, having every song remind you of them? You were constantly finding confirmation of this crush in your environment.
The fascinating part of the brain that is in control of this process is the Reticular Activating System (RAS). When I say, “I like that person, this is important to me”, the RAS takes notice and responds: “Roger that, this is important to you. Let me scan your environment and surroundings and point out to you anything that is relevant to this thing that you told me”.
The same thing happens when you declare certain things about yourself. These labels you give yourself (or identity statements) are giving instructions to the RAS in your brain: “Make sure you point out opportunities for me to show up like that. Make sure to point out examples where I can actually prove that statement to be true”.
Let’s look at these examples of unhealthy identity statements:
I am a procrastinator
I am lazy
I can’t focus
I should just… but I am not.
When you say things like that about yourself, your brain will find more and more evidence for them. And then you behave accordingly and become even more prone to say: “See, I was right. I am a procrastinator, I am lazy, I am not good at this”.
So, does it help to label yourself as a procrastinator or as lazy? No, it does not! It does not help you get motivated or leap into action.
What can you do instead?
Firstly, notice the things you are saying about yourself. Now ask yourself: are these identity statements actually going to help me to be productive? If the answer is no, they won’t, they will make it harder for me, you have to shift your perspective.
Look at the tasks you are putting off. Now, instead of labelling yourself with the old identity statements, frame it from this perspective:
I am in a process - this means that you have to do certain tasks that are part of the job, even if they don’t excite you so much. It could be a process of completing a bigger task. Or perhaps you are in a process of learning new skills. Or in a process of developing a new identity - a better, upgraded version of yourself.
Why is this new identity statement useful? It removes the judgement and expectation that you have to get instant results: no drag, no lag, no delay, no effort. Just instant results. It replaces it with a realistic expectation instead: I am putting in the effort to learn new skills. I am putting in the effort to complete the bigger task.
I am ambitious - this means there is something living inside of you - a dream, a vision - that is big and meaningful to you. Something that you want to go after, complete or start. The mental or even spiritual weight of this dream on you has meaning. And that is a big deal!
Find tasks that you have been putting off. Notice the things that you are saying about yourself. Now shift your perspective:
I am not a procrastinator.
I am not lazy.
I am in a process.
I am ambitious.