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How do you expand an identity?

I've often heard it said that people don't change, and for some, that may be true.

Others change all right, but to the negative after some traumatic event where they lost all hope and faith.

Yet others say that you CAN change if you expand your identity.

So how do you expand your identity?

How do you make sure that you don't slip back into the old thing?

I've found it depends on how big the change is that you want to make, and how much hold the current identity has on you due to some emotional charge.

Small changes may just require you hitting a threshold. Changes that don't really affect your current identity that much, may also not be that much of a problem. Say, if you were always a sporty person but have recently gained quite a bit of weight, it may simply be enough to not be able to do some yoga moves because there is fat in the way where it shouldn't be - you hit a threshold, and at the same time losing weight fits your identity as a sporty person, rather than going against it, so the change isn't too much of a problem.

But what if the change goes completely against your current identity, which may be held in place by a massive emotional charge, e.g. fear, survival instinct, years of environmental conditioning?

I found that sometimes, the only way to do that is to create a completely new identity and immerse yourself in it for an extended period of time - and I'm not taking days or weeks, I'm talking months to a couple of years.

Be aware that this new identity may be lacking some skills, and some of these may be business skills because if you would go back to the way the old identity used those skills, it would pull you back into the old identity.

If, for example, you have been working in an incredibly hard-nosed business in recent years, but you want to go back to the loving and caring person you used to be and expand that identity becoming even more loving, then using the business and fighting tactics you used recently would destroy the new identity, so you may need to refrain from them for a while until the new identity is established. So, in that case, you may want to make sure you have a bit of a financial cushion before you start going there, because the new identity may find another way to get to the same result - or not.

Or you may have spent the last decade in an incredibly structured world with rules and regulations that you never break, but now you find that they are suffocating you, and you can't find a way out. In that case, you may decide to create a completely new creative identity. That new creative identity will not have any rules, though, and still needs to develop them, and it cannot go back to the old identity to reference the old rules, as it would kill the new fledgling identity. That can have some interesting results. So you may want to put some ground rules in place of things you will not do - new identity or no new identity before you embark on the adventure.

This sounds like a theoretical example, but I've actually done it, and there were reasons for it at the time. I went from being a law student in Germany, the most structured environment you can imagine, to working as an actress in Miami overnight, and because I also changed the language I used at the time, including in my own head (from German to English), a lot of the rules of behavior simply disappeared, and I swam in that happy little cloud of innocent possibility - which was great and produced great results in terms of creativity - e.g. I could suddenly sign on stage in a manner that I was never able to before and ENJOY IT - but it also lead to some "interesting" choices, until the new identity was sufficiently developed to actually have some common sense.

Then comes a point, where the new identity is established, but you can't go further with it, either due to your own limitations or due to some external circumstance, that there comes a breaking point. At that point, you may break with the new identity, at least to a point, and go back to some of the old identity. You may need to get some stuff done that you couldn't get done with the new identity, but that absolutely needs to be handled now, because if you don't handle it now, it would be a massive problem. If at that point, the new identity was well established and real, an interesting thing may happen - you may well find that if you look back on how you just handled the matter, you may have actually just integrated both identities and combined the skills of both, getting to a result, at least in the short term, maybe only within yourself, that you could have not gotten to with either of the personalities by themselves.

And that's the breakthrough - the expansion of the identity.

It doesn't mean the problems in your life disappear. It doesn't mean that you will immediately be successful in everything you touch from then on, or even that the success you just had lasts. But it does mean that there is a new part of you that you can use from then on, a new way of seeing things that you couldn't imagine before.

Have you ever created a new identity?

Do you think you may need to expand your identity?

It may not be a bad idea to have a coach at your side, who can encourage you in your new path but also act as a sounding board for you to double-check, whether your new identity has a blind spot it should be aware of. If you'd like some help and some encouragement on the way, give us a call on 0800 980 4539, or contact us at, and we'd be happy to help!

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