Have you ever said “I am _____” or “I have _______.” Of course, you have. For example, “I am an INFJ; I am an enneagram 8; I am a morning person; I am controlling; I am a perfectionist; I have anxiety; I have back pain; I have insomnia; I have ADHD, I have a fear of heights.

These are fixed minded beliefs and thoughts. In psychology this is also referred to as identity foreclosure. When you reinforce permanent labels of being or having, you limit your perspective and undermine your ability to be resilient because your identity is foreclosed in traits, as opposed to malleable states.

I prefer to practice these two defrosting techniques:

  • Instead of saying “I am an enneagram 8,” say “I identify with enneagram 8.” The preface “identify with” highlights your thought process and processes are dynamic.

  • Similarly, instead of saying “I have back pain,” say “I ‘struggle,’ ‘contend,’ or ‘deal’ with back pain.” “Struggling” like “identifying” describes behavior and behavior change is a prerequisite to growth. These words also allow you take back the responsibility for how you relate to your circumstances. If you don’t want to struggle with back pain, how could you be with your back pain instead?

Self-Awareness should not be an act of freezing your identity. It should be an act of taking inventory of what tends to be in your (mental) freezer, so you can effectively anticipate what may need to be defrosted in order to influence the change you seek to make (self-regulation).

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