How to Change your Identity Narrative to Make a Breakthrough in Your Life

Do you believe your Identity is fixed?

Justine McGrath


Photo courtesy of Brian A Jackson/Getty Images.

According to psychologist Dan P McAdams, narrative identity is, “the internalized and evolving story of the self that a person constructs to make sense and meaning out of his or her life”.

In other words — What is the story you are telling yourself?

I have long been fascinated by this topic, as I have met numerous people throughout my training and practice as an executive coach, who see their identity as completely fixed. Suggesting that there may be more to them than they believe is an entirely new concept.

So why are we so stuck in our identity narrative? I believe there are several reasons.

Firstly, it’s a matter of survival. We have spent so long telling ourselves the same story, that the idea of changing it is quite frankly terrifying.

Secondly, it’s a habit. If habits are hard to break, then imagine how hard it is to break a habit that you may have had for twenty or thirty years. Our identity is the core part of us. We don’t think to question it. We’re too busy getting on with the business of life — A big mistake which I’ll be coming back to in just a moment.

Thirdly, it’s comfortable. Change is scary and sure isn’t it much easier to stay the same?

But we can change our story, and what’s more, if we ever hope to grow, we must. As I said a moment ago, we get on with the business of life not thinking about our identity at all. However, it is a topic which we would do well to study in-depth. Why? Because the stories we tell ourselves are responsible not just for the good stuff in our lives, but for the bad, and most importantly they could be holding us back from achieving our dreams.

So, where do we begin? Awareness is the first step. Once you are aware that you are telling yourself a particular story about some aspect of your life, you have the power to change it.

A good place to start is with your ‘Achilles Heel.’ (I will be discussing our Achilles Heels’ in my next article.) What is something that is driving you mad that you would dearly love to change? Start there and do the following:



Justine McGrath

ICF certified Executive Coach. Specialist in EI. Author ‘Conversations with my Father — Jack Kyle,’ and ‘The Elephant Crossing.’