“Is-ness” is not a term that you are likely to see in a textbook. We don’t use it in common conversation very often. (There are a bunch of references if you Google “Is-ness” – 170,000,000 of them, in .65 seconds.) However, it is an idea that has a profound effect on who we are and how we behave. Let’s look at some examples.
A person who believes that he or she “is” an optimist will naturally tend to look on the bright side as a day-in, day-out experience. But someone who simply feels optimistic right now may be very well feel pessimistic tomorrow. You see, an optimist “is” not who they are. It just happens to be something they are passing through today.
A person who believes he or she “is” a drug addict will tend to behave like an addict no matter what, and recovery may be very difficult. On the other hand, someone who thinks that they have developed a dependency on drugs doesn’t have to alter their most central self-image in order to kick the habit. This difference in framing may seem slight on the surface, but it goes to the very core of the mindset shift that allows successful recovery to happen.
We all behave in ways that are consistent with the person we believe ourselves to be. That is “is-ness” in a nutshell. So, you can see why it is important to know what you believe about yourself. Yes, that will involve a little introspection. Most of us devote precious little time to honest introspection, because, let’s face it, there are so many more fun things to do. However, introspection nearly always leads to insights, and insights are the initial stepping-stones to becoming “more” than we were yesterday.
If there are things you’d like to change, first change how you think and talk about them. Instead of saying, “I am in financial trouble,” say, “I have some debts right now, but I am taking action to resolve them.” Replace “I am a cancer victim,” with “I’ve developed cancer, but I am basically healthy and strong. I have the strength to fight this.”
Get the idea? Your actions will follow your thoughts and words – but the beliefs, those thoughts and words, need to come first.