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Do You Need an Identity Upgrade?

Life isn’t about finding yourself.

Life is about creating yourself.”

-George Bernard Shaw

I met a kindred spirit on a Southwest flight to West Palm Beach recently. She gave me an arm up with my overhead bag and I held her iced coffee as she settled into the aisle seat next to me. “So, are you headed to Florida for business or vacation?” quickly turned to talk about family and boats and dogs. And, somewhere over the coast of North Carolina, the conversation shifted to weightier subjects - life longings, dreams, regrets.

Joanna was headed to Florida to do some serious soul searching. She and her husband of thirty-some years were at a cross-road in their relationship, and she was feeling unmoored.

“I love being a mom and wife,” she confided. “ But somewhere along the way I lost myself. I have a good life, I have a wonderful family, run my own company. I really can’t complain. But I can’t help feeling like there should be more. I feel like I should be more.”

As we munched our miniature snacks, I learned that Joanna, or “JoJo” back then, had been a high-spirited whirlwind of a child. Not one to be deterred by what others thought, she spoke her mind without filters, spent hours intentionally getting lost in the woods, and frequently wore red cowgirl boots or ballet slippers to grade school. Sometimes, she wore one of each. “My poor mom! She didn’t know what to make of me.”Joanna laughed. “That little girl was fresh and fierce. I wish I could get my JoJo back,” she said wistfully.

My conversation with my new friend got me thinking about the power of Identity. Our sense of Identity is one of the strongest forces that shapes our behavior, our sense of self-worth, our level of happiness. Our self-perception controls how we see ourselves, how we interact with those around us, and how others respond to us.

For example:

• If you see yourself as a “vegan,” as opposed to a “meat-lover,” you are going to make very different choices about what you eat.

• If you see yourself as an “athlete,” you are going to move about the world differently than if you see yourself as “uncoordinated.”

• If you see yourself as “funny,” you are going to interact with people differently than if you see yourself as “serious."

Hipster, geek, feminist, philanthropist, outspoken, diplomatic, rebel, smoker, non-smoker, skeptic, optimist, good-in-a-crisis, drama queen…. All of these “labels” we use, either consciously or subconsciously, are the shorthand we use to communicate to ourselves and the world about who we are.

Some of these labels are rooted in the genetic hand we were dealt as well as our culture, environment, upbringing, and decisions we’ve made. But many of these labels that we use to describe our own identity are self-imposed. In many cases, we’ve been carrying old labels from our past. Somehow we allow these old labels to hang around and define us well past their expiration date.

The question is: Are these labels serving you?

Growing up, I was a “Good Girl.” I was a pleaser who worked hard to excel in school, and did everything in my power to make my parents proud and my friends want to hang out with me. That served me well…up to a point.

As a “Good Girl,” I rarely ruffled feathers or rocked the boat. I played it safe and frequently swallowed my voice to avoid conflict or risk disapproval. And I often took my cues from the people around me, rather than listen to my own inner voice.

So, years ago, I decided: Good Girl’s Gotta Go.

She was no longer serving me and the dreams I had for my life. If I was going to attract a partner and friends who were living their lives at a higher level, build a business, travel the world, put my best, bravest self out there to make a positive difference, then I was going to have to stretch myself in bigger ways. And to do that I needed an identity upgrade. So I traded Good Girl in for a new identity, “Hot Rocket!” Where Good Girl was accommodating, Hot Rocket! is just as compassionate, but is also bold, courageous, and takes action. If I’m on fire excited and also a little scared, I must be doing it right.

Sometimes I felt like I was faking it. Sometimes I still do. But even when I had to “act as if,” I kept practicing. I continually asked myself “What would my braver self do in this situation?” “How would Hot Rocket! handle this?” And eventually, I became that person.

Joanna and I had lunch recently and she greeted me with a hug and a mischievous grin. “Something’s up!” I pressed, and she held up her wrist, showing off her new tattoo. “I wanted a reminder to channel my inner JoJo,” she smiled. “She’s always been there. I just need to let her out a little more often.”

We can’t let other people tell us who we are.

We have to decide that for ourselves.

• So, are you conforming to an identity that no longer serves you?

• Are you playing it small or safe?

• Is this getting in the way of your happiness and your dreams?

Then let’s create a new identity that represents an even better version of your already fabulous self.

Happiness Practice: Your Identity

What labels do you use for yourself? Write down at least six. Make sure to include self-labels that you can change if you want to.

Which of these labels serve you and make you happy? These are the ones you want to keep.

Which labels are no longer serving you?

What new more empowering labels/identity can you take on to kick that old disempowering identity to the curb?

What actions and behaviors will you demonstrate to support this identity upgrade? (JoJo went Zip-lining!)

159 views2 comments


Therese Hyatt
Therese Hyatt
Jul 03, 2022

I recent went to a small party where I knew just few people. A woman came in who had short gray hair and had a beautiful turquoise necklace, earrings and bracelet on. She was quiet. I had a tooth infection, so I was too. Unusual for me. She said it was unusual for her too. She was normally the life of the party, as was I. Anyway, we ended up outside talking. S She said that I was so much like her best friend from Long Island. (She just recently moved to FL.) I said that was a real compliment. After that that we went back into the party and that was that. But, I felt a real connection to…

Replying to

You never know when and where you will meet Your people. I love that you took the time to engage with her.


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