March 05, 2020 at 01:00PM by CWC
The question of how someone defines themselves is a tricky one because the options are so vast. Many, for example, have an identity that’s tied to their profession of choice. It often makes sense why, too, since if you’re lucky, you’ve actively chosen your career path, and your success along it is a result of diligence and hard work. Others may define themselves by a relationship role that’s important to them—like being a parent or spouse—or who they are in that relationship (ex: “I’m a giver”). Or maybe it’s a talent or interest that’s your defining factor: A runner. A yogi. A photographer. In all of these cases, no one is wrong in their assertion for how they self-identify.
But what happens when the way in which you define yourself falls apart? Or you want to change who you are? As an empowerment and transformation mentor, Sophie Nik helps clients ask big, looming questions about who they are and then helps them reinvent themselves into who they want to be.
She says most of her clients are women who want to do a total career 180. They’ve defined themselves by their profession for so long, but since that identity no longer resonates, they want to do something different despite having no idea what it is or how to get there. Other times, women come to Nik because they’re sick of the role they always seem to play in relationships. “Many women come to me with low self-esteem, negative thoughts and beliefs about dating, or because they’re constantly dating the same type of [person] and they don’t want to be repeating negative patterns in relationships,” Nik says. In both cases—career and relationships—she says reinvention is a major theme.
“When people define themselves in a certain way, and then that shifts, a lot of changes occur,” —Sophie Nik, empowerment and transformation mentor.
“When people define themselves in a certain way, and then that shifts, a lot of changes occur,” Nik says. Here, she reveals her best tips for defining yourself in an empowering way, and also how to reinvent yourself into who you want to be.
How we should we define identity
“When it comes to defining ourselves, the biggest thing people forget is that they can be whomever they want to be,” Nik says. Since the truest answer to this big-deal question really rests on how you prioritize the different components of your life, Nik says she asks her clients one question to get to the root of the matter: “What resonates with you?”
Some people answer the question based on what lights them up inside, which yes, can include a job title, relationship role, or talent, and Nik says that’s totally fine—but those are all still only a part of who someone is. “People tend to attach a specific title [to how they define themselves] because it’s easier than digging deeper. But we’re more like a puzzle; there are many pieces to who someone is,” she says. One reason why this puzzle-piece understanding is important to embrace, she says, is because when one of those puzzle pieces doesn’t seem to fit anymore—whether it’s by choice or something completely out of your control—it’s only one piece, not your whole identity.
“People tend to attach a specific title [to how they define themselves], but we’re more like a puzzle—there are many pieces to who someone is.” —Nik
Background and experiences are other big resonating characteristics for the way in which many people define themselves, and it connects to where they’re from and what they’ve been through. For someone with a difficult past, this can be difficult; it’s a part of them and part of how they define themselves, but not always in a positive way. “It’s important to remember that we are always evolving and changing,” Nik says. “Who you are now is not the same person as you were last year—or even last week,” she says. “If something horrible happened to you when you were young, you are not that person. Yes, our experiences shape us, but they don’t define us.”
Her bottom-line point? You get to decide how you define yourself, and when that doesn’t fit anymore, knowing how to reinvent yourself in an empowering way is key.
How to reinvent yourself into someone you want to be in 4 steps
Embracing the idea that how you define yourself is constantly evolving is an important first step for reinvention. Next—and what Nik says she spends a lot of time working with clients on—is changing an old mind-set. “For example, many people who are shifting from working for someone else to working for themselves are still tied to a nine-to-five mentality; it’s still very much part of their mind-set,” she says.
To help shift to the mentality of who you want to be, Nik recommends writing down what you want your life to look like—your vision, so to speak. “Then, you reverse engineer,” she says. “After you know what you want your life to look like, then you think about the steps to what’s going to help you get there.”
So, in four steps, here’s how Nik suggest people approach the challenge of reinventing themselves:
- Remember that your identity is constantly evolving.
- Change your mind-set to be more flexible.
- Draw out a vision of how you’d ultimately like your life to look.
- Draft steps for bringing that vision to life.
A common obstacle, though, that many face when working to reinvent themselves is to overcome fear or anxiety related to stepping into a new version of themselves. “Often, people are afraid of what other people will say or if they can own the fact that they’re this new person now,” Nik says. “Overcoming this really involves pinpointing where these limiting beliefs are coming from and reprogramming the brain.” This is one place positive affirmations can come into play, but Nik says you need to do more than merely say them—you really have to believe them, by reminding yourself of instances that make them true. “It’s not enough to tell yourself you’re a good person, for example. You have to back up that affirmation with examples showing why you’re a good person,” Nik says.
But ultimately, when it comes to identity and reinvention, the one reality Nik wants everyone to embrace is that you get to control your own narrative and rewrite your life’s chapters whenever and however you want. After all, it’s your story.
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