How to Make Real Lasting Change - Pt.5: Identity
Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I’m sure you’ve heard this before, or at the very least seen it on a bumper sticker. But have you ever asked yourself what it really means?
In this week’s episode, we are going to talk about the concept of identity, which is ultimately a way of being. Identity is one of the most powerful levels to create change in your life. And as we conclude this series on change felt it only right to end with the most powerful level. Our Identity creates belief, and like we discussed last week, belief ultimately drives behavior.
So when we want to address unhealthy behaviors in our lives and create real lasting change the most important place to start is our identity.
I hope you enjoy this episode.
All right. Hello and welcome to this episode of the restored mind show. My name is Matt Codde, and on this episode, we are going to finalize, you know, and really tie up our discussion of how to make real change in your life. And specifically, I want to talk about the idea of identity. So in the past four episodes, we've talked about changing environment, changing behavior, skill sets, and then beliefs, right? And I talked about in the last episode, how belief can be a very, very powerful way of making change. But in this episode, I want to talk about this idea of identity, because I really believe that that is, you know, at the crux, right. You know, where most things start. Right. And, um, you know, identity is what ultimately creates belief and belief creates behavior. Right? And so if we just kind of start with identity, we need to realize that the rest of it just kind of follows suits and, you know, a good, a good way to kind of show this is, this is exactly what, um, cult leaders do, right?
Uh, if at any, any cult leader, if you really look at any successful Colt, what they'll do is they'll actually bestow a new identity upon a person. Now, in many ways, what they do is they just give them like a new name. Right. And, and because if you give someone an identity, the beliefs are then adopted, right. And then the behavior follows suit. Right. I know we, we love to think that as humans, we just operate under freewill and we're, we're always just, um, you know, we're always making conscious choices, right. We always have free will, but the reality is, is that's just not always the case. Right. And so if we look at, um, you know, just some simple examples, right, let's go ahead and just look at kind of a, kind of a, a pretty extreme example, but it's something that I wanted to share because it's something that really got me thinking.
Right. So in 2014, um, a man named Brian stow was beaten nearly to death, but essentially, you know, where he had ongoing brain damage by to Los Angeles Dodgers fans. And he was a San Francisco giants fan, I believe. Right. And so outside of the game, he was, uh, you know, essentially almost beaten to death. And in, in, that's not the first time, obviously there's been conflict between, um, you know, sports fans. But I started asking myself as like, okay, like what would drive someone, right? What would drive someone to literally beat someone else to death or to critical critical injury? Because you share a, you, you share a difference, you have a difference of opinion in sports teams. Right. And, and, you know, if you really think about it, it's like, that just doesn't make sense when it like practically. But when you think about it from an identity perspective, it does make sense.
And when you are over identified with something, what happens is, is that if you, if believe that to be your identity, right, what happens is if anything, challenges that idea or belief it then hits you at a core level. Right. And it really shakes up, you know, for like, you know, inside. Right. And that's why it's like, if someone wears a Jersey of a different opponent or different opposing team than you, and you are over identified as a fan of that particular team, you almost take it personally. But like what sense does that make, you know, most of these teams have never done anything for us as individuals. Right. They just provide entertainment. We actually give them all our money in, in time. Right. Um, and, and if you think about this idea of, if someone wears a Jersey and because that Jersey is different than yours, and you identify yourself as a let's in this case, Dodgers fan, well, that would obviously drive to protect that identity.
Right. And that's what drives people to clash and like hate each other is, is really just this idea of a mistaken self identity. And so what I mean by that, well, I think many of us wrestle with this question of who am I, right. You know, I mean, it starts, I think, pretty young, right? Who am I? And we try to put ourselves in categories and in many ways that's what identities are, right. They're categories. Right. We try to identify like, okay, well I'm a man or a woman, or I'm white, or I'm black, or I'm Asian, I'm Mexican. Right. Um, you know, I mean, go through the list, right. You know, I'm Christian, I'm Jewish, I'm, you know, Muslim. I mean, we, we create these categories. Right. And we see which one we fit into. Right. I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan, or I'm a LA Dodgers fan.
I'm the New York Yankees fan. Right. You know, as the list goes on and on, but we create these identities and these identities are not things we're born with more or less, they're more social constructs that we've created to solve this question of who am I? Right. And the moment, the instant that something challenges that identity. And you need to realize that that is hitting you at like your deepest core, which is why people get so defensive. Because if you have to challenge your identity, that means you need to look at yourself and do deeper work and say like, well, well, is that really who I am? And instead of doing that work, what happens is, is people get defensive and they defend that identity and they protect it. Right. And so this which again creates a, you know, oftentimes aggressive behavior. And, and again, that belief that I'm right, right.
Like that I know what my identity is. And then you can see as the behavior, the behavior then drives that. And that's where people get violent. And, you know, if we're really just gonna just kind of spin it full circle here, I mean, we can see this happening in the United States right now you have people adopting, you know, essentially in many ways, one of two identities, right? It's like, you're either on the right or the left, right. Or you're Republican or you're Democrat, or you're conservative. You're progressive. Right. And no one likes to come up with this idea, you know, with themselves that says, Hey, maybe I can believe things on both sides of the coin. Right. It's like, people are almost forcing themselves into one side or the other. Right. And in many ways, that's what we do when we vote. Right. We have to vote for one person and kind of who aligns with our beliefs the most.
Right. Um, you know, to hopefully represent our, our beliefs. Right. And, you know, it's, it's fascinating because, um, if we really look at this idea of identity politics, what is it? Well, if we identify, let's say, as a Republican or a Democrat or a, you know, a conservative or liberal right. Or progressive, right? Whatever words you want to use to describe if we believe that is our sole identity, that's who we are. Right. And even the language that you're used to, like, I'm this, I'm this, I'm this. When we use that language again, we solidify the idea that that is our identity. And that's not our identity is that you weren't born that. Right. You adopt, you, you adopted this at some point in your life. And here's the thing, the longer you live, usually your views change more and more and more, but we become so convinced that that's who we are, that any idea that challenges, that identity then becomes something we need to respond to and react to.
Not because it's actually the idea, that's the problem. Right. It's actually, because that idea shakes us to our very core because we are so over identified with that concept. Now I know that might sound a little deep, but I mean, the reality is, is that the only battles and many ways that we fight in this world are with ourselves. Right. And, and ideas that challenge us to change the way we think, right. The ego doesn't like that. Right. I mean, it, it wants us to be right all the time. So the idea that we have to admit that we're wrong on things, or admit that, Hey, maybe I'm not seeing this from the right perspective. Or maybe I can see this from a different perspective, even is a tough thing to do as individuals, in fact, it's much easier to defend it. And then when we defend it, we get violent.
Right. You know, just in our very human nature. Unfortunately, I mean, like when we're looking to that and we think that something's threatening, we didn't go into a fight or flight mode. Right. And so if something's challenging us at an identity level where you can see how it would just obviously promote the kind of behavior that's going on, right. I mean, people think that they're operating in freewill by doing these often very destructive acts right now in the United States. And it's just, it's nothing of the sort actually, you know, it's, it's in many ways a mistaken identity, because I think if you actually took individuals that are acting extremely, you know, violent and destroy and destructive, when you talk to them individually, they probably wouldn't tell you that they're a, an or violent person. And they probably aren't by their very nature. But when you get absorbed into an identity, oftentimes you end up doing things again, that you never thought you were capable of.
I mean, and let's look at extreme example of this, right? If you look back to world war II, you know, like, well, Hitler bestowed the identity right. Of being a Nazi, right. And when you have that identity put upon you, then you have certain beliefs that are attached to that identity and then certain behaviors follow suit. Right. Obviously horrible behaviors. When you look at other Coles, that's right. You look at, um, the idea of the Manson family, right? Well, an identity was put upon you're part of this family and beliefs, and then, you know, those horrible murders, you know, were happening right. In the, I believe it was the seventies, but as we go through this, I mean, it's not, it's not as complicated as we think it is in many ways as it, because as individuals, that's our responsibility to ask ourselves like, okay, well, what, what identities have I just adopted did?
Right. Again, these are things that you've just assumed to be true, that you're unwilling to even look at and say, am I right about this? Right. Because most of us don't want to look like that, or don't want to look at that. Right. And when we're talking about making real change, not only in ourselves, but in our families, in the world world, it starts with us as individuals. It always does. It always has always will. You are never going to change everyone else. Right. You're going to start with yourself. And, you know, when, um, when you look at the power of identity and, and more importantly, when you adopt an identity, you know, unbeknownst to yourself, that's when really dangerous things start happening. And so I want to kind of talk about something, a little controversial here, but, you know, it's something that I've been following of this, you know, black lives matter movement, you know, anyone, you know, mostly anyone that I know and myself included will unequivocally agree.
Of course, black lives matter, you know, of course. Right. But here's the, here's the thing when you adopt a movement, right. That is a label. Right. And then, because it's now like really taking shape as a movement. And when you really look at their website and their mission statement, it's pretty interesting that belief structures that go along with this movement are like totally different than what that movement claims to be. Right. When you're talking about like the elimination of the patriarchy and the family. And it's like, well, hold on a second. Like, but, but this is what good movements and going again, good. Um, people that want to manipulate people, they bestow an identity upon someone. Right. And then tell them what they believe without ever having them question. Like, do I believe this? You know, and, and again, like, if you talk about the eliminate patient, like the patriarchy, right.
And like of fathers and the importance of fathers, right. That that's like a, you know, it's like, you start hearing things like that. And it's like, okay, well, how does that correlate? Right. And, um, and I know this is going to be, you know, maybe one of the more hot topic, uh, episodes that I, that I've done. But when I really started looking at this, it's like, well, no. I mean, like the evidence is overwhelmingly, you know, that with a positive parental figure in a child's life, you know, the, I mean, without a positive PR uh, you know, father, right. In, in a child's life, you're talking about an increase of dropout in schools, right. In, um, pregnancy, out of wedlock, drug, addiction, suicide, I mean, uh, you know, incarceration, all these things, just the, the odds of the child's getting involved in any of these skyrocket, you know, and the evidence is overwhelming for that.
So, um, when you start talking about taking a label and switching it, you know, to these beliefs, and then people just adopting these beliefs, because they think they're correlated, that's where manipulation happens as an identity level. Right. And always remembering that, you know, if you over identify with anything, you you're, you have the risk of just adopting beliefs that may not even be things that you believe, but just adopt them because you just assume that because you're at that identity, you have to believe that. And then the behaviors that follow suit of that. Right. And so when it comes to the idea of, um, you know, even if you look at like something like the church of Westboro, right. They would tell you like, okay, well, if you're a Christian and you believe this and this and this, and a lot of hateful, horrible things, right.
And it's like, well, wait, hold on. Like, like, like these jumps that people take, uh, you know, that are creating movements or organizations. And if you, if you, aren't careful as an individual to question what the identity is and what the beliefs are, and is that something that you actually align with, instead of just assuming that you're the identity that someone gives you really taking a deeper understanding of who you are. And that's really where this, this idea of identity is so important when it comes to mental health recovery, right? The oldest identity that we have as human beings to adopt is, are we the hero or are we the victim? Right. And in many ways, you know, the people that I've look up to in many ways and have been very in people that I believe to have to achieve very successful lives and families and the things I aim to strive for in my own life, when you, it never starts with being the victim.
Right. You know, you have to decide to be the hero of the story, right. And, and what does that mean? Well, the hero doesn't take a challenge in our, in their life and look at that as this horrible outcome, but instead of an opportunity for them to overcome, and it can become a better version of themselves. Right. And that's one of the oldest identities that we wrestle with the oldest choices that we wrestle with as humans. Right. And I know, um, you know, there's a lot to unpack here and this idea of identity. And again, I'm probably gonna make, again, another episode on this, just because, or even, you know, an additional episode, because I just think it's, um, it's such a powerful idea, but, um, you know, the thing that I want to tie up here is just this idea that change in many ways begins with identity and identity is who we believe ourselves to be doesn't mean that that's who we are.
It's just a belief, right. And if we adopt identities just blindly, that can lead to dangerous beliefs and dangerous behaviors and us behaving in ways that we never thought we would behave. And I know no one likes to really acknowledge this, but it's like, look, I mean, it's not like, um, in many ways, a lot of the evil things people do are just because they've adopted the wrong identities and the wrong belief patterns. And that behavior that we don't like at the end of it is really a trickle effect of all that. And so, you know, thank you for taking the time to listen to this series, um, for more resources, obviously, uh, please check us [email protected] We have free downloads and free assessments to help you on your journey with, um, with mental health. And, you know, in this series, we really, we want to just understand what creates real change, right?
What creates real change in us as individuals so that we can change as family units so that we can change as communities and States and countries and even the world and the change doesn't start from without it never has never will. The change starts from within. And, you know, I mean, in enough, very prominent figures have said that, you know, be the change you want to see in the world. Right. I think, you know, Gandhi, right? It's like, what's he saying, we'll start with identity, be the, be the person, right. You know, who you want the world to be, right. Not change the world like on the outside, it starts from within. So thank you. And, uh, you know, we'll, we'll start up in another, the next episode, we'll continue on this series of how to really overcome these ideas of mistaken identities and really start to make change at an identity level. Have a great day.
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