Self-Identity: Prison or Platform?
There I was, up to my waist in murky waters. My husband, myself, and our dog Moose headed to the lake one hot weekend afternoon. We kayaked, dog in tow, to a small island and parked the kayaks there.
My husband and Moose swam across to the other side of the lake. The water was cool and inviting… but I had never swam across a lake before.
I looked at them longingly, wishing to make it to the other side and then the fears crept in. 'I might get bit by a fish. I can’t see the bottom... or really anything at all.' Gulp. 'What if lock ness is real?' 'What if I get tangled in kelp and drown?'
“C’mon!” My husband yelled. “Whatcha waiting for? It's easy!” He laughed. I made a pouty face and every attempt to just jump in and swim across was met with another wall of fear and another excuse.
He kept taunting me. “Some country girl you are! A true country girl would swim across a lake!” He laughed again. We have an ongoing inside joke about me thinking I’m so outdoorsy just because I spent my formative years being raised in a small cabin in the country. Some of my best friends were butterflies and creek snails. Yep, country living.
As soon as I heard those words come from his mouth this energy came up over me and I thought, “Oh hell no! Nobody will accuse me of being a wimpy country girl!" I was proud of having country roots, jumping in mounds of messy fall leaves, picking apples, and getting stuck climbing cherry trees.
After hearing those words, all of a sudden I was swimming full force across the lake and made it breathless to the other side!
Our identity, how we identify is a powerful force. It moves us, shapes us, and forges the canyons of our life, beliefs, and actions.
Some identities come to us circumstantially. Others we choose.
The flip side to my proud “country girl” identity is a long-held limiting belief. I grew up believing I had no clue of social norms or cues because I spent most of my time in the mountains. This really inhibited me as we moved to Tucson. To me, Tucson might as well have been LA. I had to make all new friends, which felt like torture.
My identity and the belief that sprouted from it, inhibited me as I stepped out as a mom and later as a coach. I had to face this story, realize it is not my full truth, and throw the unserving parts to the wind.
Part of life is about finding our true selves. The self without the false projections, defense mechanisms, or the accumulation of limiting stories we incidentally adopt throughout the years.
The other part of our life takes flight when we examine what our truth is, learn to have faith in ourselves so that we can live in alignment with pride and confidence. From such awareness, we can then choose to create who are to become and how we wish to show up in the world.
Being coached integratively was my first introduction to the inner journey back home to my true self. Integrative coaching is a journey of releasing self-deception, firing self-rejection and leaning into the highest aspects of Self.
What I’ve taken away from the journey with my identity, roots and beliefs is this:
How we identify is either a prison that binds our potential, or the very platform to confidently launch from.
I invite you to take a life inventory:
By Laurel Elders, PCC
IICT Founder / Senior Faculty