Change Who You Are to Change What You Do

( Part 1 of 9)

Life is full of changes, and we all have a natural desire to transform ourselves in some way. We want to improve our health, succeed in our careers, and build meaningful relationships. But have you ever wondered why it can be so hard to change our behaviour? The answer is that true change starts from within. To make lasting changes, we need to understand ourselves better and the reasons behind our actions.

Our behaviour is closely linked to our identity, beliefs, and values. If we want to change our behaviour, we need to start by examining our core beliefs and values. Without this, any changes we make will only be temporary fixes. Attempting to merely modify our external actions without addressing the core aspects of our identity is like rearranging furniture in a house with a crumbling foundation. Superficial changes may temporarily cover the underlying issues, but eventually, the cracks resurface, demanding our attention.

The Relationship Between Identity and Behaviour

The relationship between identity and behaviour is intricate and powerful. Our beliefs, values, and self-perception intricately shape our choices and actions. Beliefs act as lenses through which we interpret the world, shaping our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours. For instance, if we believe that “hard work leads to success,” we are likelier to exhibit unwavering dedication and resilience when confronted with challenges.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

Likewise, our values are fundamental in guiding our behaviour, serving as beacons for decision-making. When honesty holds immense value, we naturally prioritise truthfulness in our interactions and actions. Our behaviour aligns with our values, transforming them from abstract ideals into tangible guiding principles.

Self-perception, or how we view ourselves, affects our behaviour. For example, if we see ourselves as compassionate individuals, we are more likely to engage in acts of kindness and empathy. As a result, our behaviour becomes an outward expression of our perceived identity. In essence, we become what we believe ourselves to be.

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

We, therefore, must gain a deeper understanding of ourselves by engaging in introspection and self-examination. Self-reflection allows us to identify the beliefs, values, and self-perceptions that influence our behaviour. In addition, it helps us uncover hidden motivations, fears, and patterns that may hinder our growth.

Practical Ways to Change


  • Journaling: Set aside time to write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Reflect on your actions, decisions, and their impact on your life.
  • Meditation and Mindfulness: Practice being fully present in the moment, examining your thoughts and emotions without judgment. This allows for deeper self-awareness and insight.
  • Seeking Feedback: Request honest feedback from trusted individuals who can provide valuable perspectives on your behaviour and its alignment with your intentions.

Shifting Mindset and Core Beliefs

  • Identify Limiting Beliefs: Recognise beliefs that hold you back or create self-imposed limitations. Are underlying fears, comfort zones, or limiting beliefs restricting you? Then, test their validity and replace them with empowering beliefs.
  • Reframe Challenges as Opportunities: Adopt a growth mindset by viewing obstacles as chances for learning and personal development rather than setbacks. Consider setbacks and failures as stepping stones towards success. Develop the resilience to persevere in the face of challenges and maintain motivation.
  • Visualisation and Affirmations: Visualise yourself embodying the desired change and repeat positive affirmations to reprogram your subconscious mind.
  • Cultivating Positive Habits: Start small, begin with simple, achievable habits and gradually build on them. Consistency is vital in ingraining new behaviours. This incremental approach reduces resistance and makes change more attainable.
  • Habit Stacking: Attach new habits to existing ones, making them easier to incorporate into your daily routine.
  • Accountability and Support: Seek an accountability partner or join a community with similar goals, providing encouragement and motivation.

Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) for Lasting Change

  • Self-Awareness: Recognise and understand your emotions, triggers, and behaviour patterns. This awareness allows for more conscious decision-making.
  • Self- Management: Develop strategies to manage and express emotions healthily and constructively, reducing impulsive or reactive behaviour.
  • Social Awareness and Relationship Management : Develop empathy to understand others’ perspectives and enhance interpersonal relationships. Learn how to communicate and resolve conflict.
  • Responsible decision-making: Decisions should be based on consideration of all relevant factors, including applicable ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms; the likely consequences of taking alternative courses of action; and respect for others.

Integrating these strategies into your growth journey creates a solid foundation for lasting change. Remember, transformation is gradual, so be patient and kind to yourself. It is a continuous journey rather than a destination. By addressing the internal aspects of our identity, we set the stage for meaningfully reforming our behaviours and, ultimately, leading a more fulfilling and authentic life.

Wanting change needs acknowledgement and awareness that changing our actions and behaviours begins with changing our identity and inner world. Actual change comes from within, as our beliefs, values, and self-perceptions shape our choices and actions. Remember, you can’t change what you do without changing who you are. By adopting this truth and applying the strategies discussed, you have the power to create a life that reflects your most authentic aspirations and purpose.

“When you don’t know who you are, anything can be your identity.”Patch Adams.

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