A decade ago, if someone asked me who I was, my gut answer would be something like…
…I’m a social worker.
…I’m an introvert.
…And I’m an anxious person.
And because that’s how I used to view myself…my life followed suit.
I felt nervous and jumpy ALL THE TIME. I dreaded parties so much, I’d pop a Xanax anytime there was a social event I had to attend. And I took every success or failure at work ubbbber personally.
Until about 10 years ago…when I hit rock bottom and knew things had to change.
So I tweaked my diet. My friends. The way I thought about and processed situations. And the effects those changes had on my anxiety were pretty freakin’ amazing (which is why I keep writing allll about them!).
But today, I’m gonna let you in on a secret: the MOST impactful change I’ve ever made in my life to improve my mental health – and that you could ever make in yours – actually isn’t related to food or exercise or any of the “typical” advice you find in wellness magazines.
What is it?
Changing my identity.
Specifically, choosing to stop identifying with fear and to start identifying with LOVE.
Let me explain what I mean…
Why Changing Your Identity is KEY to Transformation
Let’s say that you really wanna lose weight and you keep telling yourself, “I am such an unhealthy eater. I’m sooooo fat. I need to go on a diet.”
Well, those words create an aura of negativity and self-harm and self-judgment around everything you do. And they cause alllllll your goals and actions to be driven by self-hatred and a desire to be different than what you fundamentally identify yourself to be.
So you make yourself eat a salad for lunch and salmon with veggies for dinner…but you end up raiding your hubby’s candy drawer at midnight, thinking, “Of course, I’m stuffing myself with chocolate! I’m just not a healthy eater! That’s just not who I am.”
But what about if you talked to yourself – and identified yourself – differently? What if you instead chose to live by a more loving, positive mantra: “I am a healthy eater.”?
Let’s find out right now…together! 😉
Close your eyes and repeat the phrase – “I am a healthy eater” – a couple of times out loud. Realllly let those words sink in.
Then ask yourself: How does it feel to say “I am a healthy eater”?
Does it make you feel proud that you’re nourishing yourself? Confident that you can give your body what it needs?
And as someone who identifies as a healthy eater…
…how do you think about breakfast tomorrow?
…how do you eat? What do you eat? When?
…how do you deal with sugar cravings? Do you binge? Or what might you do instead?
See how identifying with being a healthy eater suddenly makes your path to healthy eating clear and easy? Rather than fighting an uphill battle against your true self, you’re going with the flow of the identity you’ve chosen.
And sure, you probably still have chocolate at midnight sometimes. Because a lil’ chocolate IS a part of a healthy diet. But you’ll also be waaay more excited and motivated to experiment with new foods and find healthy meals and snacks you really enjoy.
Here’s the best part, though: this framing technique for how you see yourself can be applied to ALL sorts of circumstances in your life.
Are you an epic failure at dating…or an independent badass waiting for the right partner to come along?
Are you an underpaid high school teacher or are you a vigilant guardian of the wellbeing of the next generation?
How you choose to identify yourself makes a world of difference. And when you change your identity, that decision fundamentally shapes and informs how you show up, how you feel and how you think EVERY SINGLE DAY.
How Changing My Identity to Love Set Me Up For Less Anxiety and Depression – And Can Do The Same For You
Of all the identities you could choose for yourself, there is 1 in particular that gives you tremendous happiness and improves your mental health overnight.
Ready for it? Here it is:
“I am love”
Choosing love as your identity is one of the most impactful decisions you can EVER make if you wanna have less anxiety.
After all, love is the exact OPPOSITE of fear. When we’re scared, all we want is for someone to hug us and tell us it’s gonna be OK. We want to feel comforted. Loved.
This means that when you identify with love INSTEAD of fear (I’m talking to all you “anxious people”!), fear can never win and it fades over time.
Does that mean my life is always full of rainbows and green juice and smiling Insta selfies? ‘Course not! I still have moments when I experience negative thoughts and start surfing down the worry spiral.
But that’s just how I feel, not who I am. And when I notice it’s happening, I just CHOOSE not to identify with those fearful thoughts.
Instead, I can take those thoughts down to my heart, and introduce them to who I really am: Love.
And love knows I can handle anything.
Love knows that I don’t need any outside validation. Love knows I am love, and therefore I am safe to just relax.
In fact, I even have love to thank for three ammmmazing things that started happening to me – that made me feel so much less anxious – as soon as I changed my identity:
Identifying As Love Benefit #1: I started feeling safe in my body 24/7.
Six years ago, I had a MAJOR health scare. My doctor noticed somethin’ funky in one of my lungs and thought I might have cancer. And for four whooooole days, I went to work and hung out with friends with that possibility hanging in the back of my mind.
Here’s the craziest part, though: if I’d gotten that news years ago, I would’ve FREAKED the FUCK out. I would’ve canceled all my meetings and camped out in my apartment and just spent four straight days Googling random symptoms and holistic cures.
But I didn’t do that.
Instead, I felt mostly, well, peaceful. I had this deep inner knowing that I am love, not cancer. Plus, I knew that even if I did have cancer, I could still go through the experience as love, rather than as a scared cancer patient.
I knew that as love, I would choose to:
- make every last moment I had on this planet extra precious.
- take care of my body with reverence.
- share allll the messages and lessons I gained from that disease, versus focusing on what I’d lost!
And, yeah, I know how crazily positive I sound right there, and I am grateful that the cancer scare turned out to be false. BUT I am also grateful for how positively I was able to view that scare…and I know I was only able to do that because I identified with love – not cancer, not my ego, my not fear – in the first place.
Now, I know what you might be thinking: “That’s cool Caitlin, but I’m not anxious because of that kinda serious stuff! I just wanna stop feeling crazzzzy overwhelmed by everyday life, like that awkward first date I had to go on yesterday!”
Well, becoming love helped me with that too! Because as love, I would just show up on that first date, fully loving who I am and what I’m bringing to that date. And I’d look for the light and love in him.
And when you bring that kind of genuine, relaxed open-hearted presence and curiosity to social interactions – rather than expectations of how a moment is supposed to go or feel – there’s no fear or anxiety of it “not working out” or “going right.”
You just put out good energy into the world…and see what comes back.
Identifying As Love Benefit #2: I stopped trying to win love…because I already have it!
Here’s another truth bomb for ya’: sooooo much of the anxiety and sadness in our lives comes from chasing something and not getting it, whether you’re chasing…
…a ”dream body.”
…a *fill in your blank here!*
At the end of the day, whatever you’re chasing is actually just a source of validation and outside approval…which are all just shallow forms of LOVE.
That’s why it’s sooooo freakin’ life-changing when you say, “I already am love. If the opportunity for a new career or a new partner happens to come and enrich my life, beautiful. But I don’t need to win love or get love because I’m it!”
Now, I know it’s waaaaay easier said than done to jump off the hamster wheel and stop exhausting yourself in the endless chase for perfection. BUT I also know that taking this scary step is SOOOO worth it.
Case in point? My hubby. ‘Cause after years of searching for the “perfect” lover or the “perfect” husband material, I stopped and just said I’d be open to love whenever it came into my life…and not too long after, it did. 😉
Same goes for my career.
I have soooo many visions and dreams for how I wanna change the world. Am I gonna chase those dreams? HELL YEAH! But – and this is a big but – I’ll chase those dreams while knowing that achieving those goals won’t make me a better person or any more worthy of people’s love. ‘Cause (say it with me!) your girl already IS love.
And because I don’t have allll that pressure on myself, I’ve actually been able to ENJOY my life as it is while knowing and trusting that good things are always coming. After all, all good people and things are attracted to love, right? So just imagine alllll the amazing possibilities that could come your way if love becomes your inner bestie!
Identifying As Love Benefit #3: I got waaaaay more in tune with my intuition and gut.
We make sooooo many freakin’ decisions every single day. We wonder:
- Should I take this job or not?
- Should I move across the country or not?
- Should I push through a workday even though I’m suuuuuper anxious…or take the day off and de-stress at my fave park?
- Should I speak my mind to my mom, even though I doubt she’ll ever listen?
- Should I eat the salad I packed…or join my co-workers for pizza in the break room?
- …and SO. MUCH. MORE!
And the more questions we face, the more we get fixated on this idea that there’s a “right” and “wrong” answer and that we NEED to figure out what path is the right one for us to take. Which – you guessed it! – only makes us even MORE anxious and stressed.
That’s where identifying as love comes in.
As soon as I kept telling myself, “I am love,” answering all of those questions got a whooole lot easier. Because instead of freaking out over figuring out the “right” answer, I just asked myself, “What would love have me do? What kind of response to this situation would make me feel even more aligned with love – with who I really am?”
That answer is usually crystal clear. And when it’s not? I still know I’m gonna be OK, no matter what. ‘Cause I am love. And that’s all I need!
And that sense of intuition and self-trust is pretty much the OPPOSITE of feeling anxious or not good enough. So not only do I feel more confident…but I deal with less anxiety too. Talk about a two-for-one deal!
How You Can Start Changing Your Identity – and Your Life
I get it. Hearing someone say, “I am love,” might make you chuckle a bit at first. But you can’t laugh away all the aweeeesome ways that one change has transformed my life! So if you wanna get an idea of how identifying with love can radically change YOUR life, too, here’s a lil’ exercise to try:
Sit somewhere comfortable and close your eyes. Then, bring your attention to your hridaya, or your spiritual heart center, which lies in the center of your chest. Feel the energy in your heart space as you’re breathing…and imagine that you are breathing in and out from that space. Do this for five minutes at the same time as you repeat the mantra, “I am love.”
And do this meditation every day for at least five minutes! You’ll be amazed at how such a short exercise will totalllly transform how you show up in your day.
Plus, if you know you’re about to go into a situation that makes you suuuuper anxious…try doing this meditation for two minutes right before it starts. And instead of walking into that situation thinking, “Oh god, I’m so nervous,” say – can you guess it? 😉 – “I’m love.” Then pay attention to how much more ease and peace you feel with you during that experience.
And like always…if you do all you can to tap into your inner fire but need help fully lightin’ up your world, I’m here! In fact, I just released a NEW 16-week course called Freedom From Anxiety that’s alllll about helping you transform your anxiety into POWER…through love. In it, you’ll learn how to work with your thoughts and talk to yourself with love and compassion. Plus, I’ll teach you techniques that make connecting to and tuning into your body waaaaaay easier. To learn more about FFA or sign up today, click here!
What I Hope Everyone Who Identifies as an “Anxious Person” Knows
If I could go back to the years when I was suuuuper anxious and thought my fears would ALWAYS be a huuuuge part of who I was…I would tell that Caitlin a couple things:
- You CAN let go of your fears and stop trying to “win” at life
- You CAN stop overthinking every decision and go with your gut.
- You CAN choose to change your identity…and it will be the best decision you ever make.
And if you read this post and are thinking, “Damn. I’m the Old Caitlin!”, these three truths are for YOU as well.
You just have to choose the embrace them. So what are you waiting for? Commit to changing your identity to love and watch how that one tweak radically changes your life.
Then, come back and tell me allll about it. ‘Cause you know I can’t WAIT to hear! 😉
What’s one hard decision that thinking of yourself as love would help you make? Tell me in the comments!