I’ve worked with my physiotherapist for years. One of the things I appreciate about her is that she not only looks after my physical body- she also let me know when I need to make shift in perspective. The first time this happened was when she told me that I likely had developed central sensitization syndrome, which really just means my brain is processing pain in a different way. She knows my body well. Given my injury history her comments made sense.
But the other day she caught me by surprise. Because what she said to me went to the very heart of what I have been teaching my own clients.
“Last time he were here you said you thought you never be able to run again. Where did that catastrophic thinking come from?”
Boom! Identity evolution 101. Handed to me in a brilliantly crafted question that both shocked me AND gave me hope. It was a brilliant lesson in my own journey with shift, change, and personal evolution.
Identity Evolution: Our Tool for Change
Identify evolution is one of the key tools we use as yoga health coaches- the ability to look forward and see our potential for becoming a different version of ourselves. As we encourage our clients to look forward to a horizon of wide possibility, we help them narrow down both their future vision for who they want to be in the world, and the day to day habits and actions that will move them forward in the direction of who they want to become. Underlying our ability to change are beliefs and patterns of behaviour that we learn how to name, deconstruct, and shift in support of our personal goals for growth and evolution.
So how do we effectively help our clients see their potential? What can we learn from our own journeys with identity evolution?
Here is my take on the 3 ways we need to explore our own identity evolution before we can effectively help others see their potential for change.
Our Identity Evolution Success Story
What story can we share that gives a clear example of how we have personally evolved our identity? What did it take to make that evolution happen? What kind of challenges did we experience? What did we learn about our potential for change? How did commitment, consistency, vision and imagination play into the process?
One story I love to share is how I became a triathlete. As a non-athletic teen with no coordination I believed in every cell of my body that I was not an athlete. By consistently executing the habits of a triathlete I not only was able to do a triathlon- I was able to race, place and even complete the famed Ironman. I became a triathlete- a clear example of taking on a new identity.
Our Current Evolution in Progress
Helping our clients understand that change is an ongoing process is another part of our story. Knowing that we have successfully made an identity shift is one thing. Helping them to see our current dreams, hopes and challenges in the context of current identity evolution is another. Knowing that we have had success- AND that we are an ongoing work in progress- can help our clients relax into the idea that there is no finish line- there is just the beautiful potential for ongoing creation of new ways of being.
Our Identity Evolution Blind Spot
Celebrating successful transitions and transitions ‘in progress’ is inspiring for our clients. But it is also important for them to know that everyone has blind spots- and that having others help us see them is sometimes the fastest track to change.
There is immense potential available to us when we have someone call us on our “catastrophic thinking”- our hidden beliefs that something is not malleable and changeable. My physiotherapists comments hit me hard and fast. They woke me up, inspired me, and gave me the opportunity to question what I believe, how I communicate it, and how that might be blocking me from seeing my own potential.
So be in that you are a health coach, a health coaching client, or someone who is just starting to explore your next steps in your own evolution, here is the big question:
Who is holding the bar of potential high for you? Are they willing to point out the tough stuff? And when they do, do YOU have the support you need to move forward in shifting the base.
Sometimes when we are coaching we can get very focussed on our PAST stories of evolution, and our current path of change. But the willingness to be open to help to see our blind spots- in the way that my physio helped me- is a part of the process that some of us miss.
So what are your past, present and future stories of identity evolution? What stories do you need to explore? Who are your people who will help you see your own blind spots? Comment and let us know what insights you’ve had.
As for me… I am now on a walk program. Marathon training it’s not. But every step that I run connects me to my future self- a healthy recreational runner who loves to hike and backcountry camp.