Have you ever told yourself “That’s not me!” “I’m not the type of person who would…” or “Not in a million years would I…”?

Day after day, I hear stories from people who are certain about who they are, how they will react to situations, and what is or isn’t in their realm of possibilities.

They tell themselves things like:

• I will never...get divorced, get married again, date someone ten years older or younger than myself.

• There is no way I could...sing karaoke, speak in public, live anywhere but NYC, travel by myself, jump out of a plane.

• It’s not important to me or I don’t care about…having a child, getting involved with politics, making money.

• I could never... set a boundary, be selfish, lazy, or cheap, act spoiled, be friends with that person, emotionally survive the loss of a loved one.

But then something happens and boom - they are confronted with an opportunity or some situation that challenges their belief system. They are challenged with giving up control and being vulnerable. They are faced with letting go of the safety of the self they have known and defined themselves to be. They are tested with the dilemma of remaining in or breaking free from their self-imposed box.

Although I am a great believer in being aware of who we are and what we stand for, learning from our past, and being conscious of what has and has not served our highest, I have also come to realize that:

Thinking we know ourselves minimizes ourselves.

Many of our self-imposed rules, although masquerading in the guise of “this is who I am” and "this is what is best for me," come from our ego's need to control, be “right,” and to protect us. Driving this ego's need is generally a deep-seated fear that if we let go or at all digress from the self or beliefs that we think we know, our lives might spin out of control.

However, when you label it, you limit it. The costs of being attached to the self we think we are and have defined our self to be are great. Our choices become limited. Our thinking becomes narrowed. Our present becomes a repeat of our past. We live a life dictated by who we were yesterday. And, any new possibilities for the future cease to exist because we become stuck in the rigidity of our righteousness of who we think we are. We lose touch with the fact that our righteous positions are not the truth, but thoughts that we have turned into truths and that our attachment to our outdated sense of self are rooted in insecurity and fear and blind us to seeing a reality greater than narrow view of self.

The truth is that in any moment we have the choice to step out of the definition of the person we have known are self to be and step into the person we are meant to become.

To do this requires two essential ingredients: humility and surrender.

Humility is the antidote to righteousness. It enables us to relinquish control as well as our need to be “right.” It liberates us with the freedom that comes with finally being able to admit that we don’t have a clue. It is the prelude to surrender.

When we surrender, we are finally able to let go and free ourselves from the attachment of our definition of self. Instead of resisting change and limiting self-growth, surrender allows us to change, redefine who we are, grow and flow with the current of our evolutionary process.

For me, a person who always tried to "get it right" and keep myself safe, it is now with a sigh of relief and a smile that I can admit, "I have no clue!" And that is the good news! The fact is the Universe holds countless amazing and inspiring futures. Thinking I know who I am and what is possible, I might miss the invitation to live and become something beyond my wildest imagination.

So this week I invite you to join me in challenging your definition of self. As Lao Tzu said,

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."

Transformational Action Steps

1. Make a list of some of your self-imposed rules as well as the ways in which you define yourself. If you need help, then finish these sentences:

• I will never…
• There is no way I could…
• It’s not important to me or I don’t care about…
• I could never…

2. Think about how these rules or definitions actually limit you and what would be possible if you didn’t live inside these limits.

3. Challenge yourself to take do something outside your limited definition of self.

Author's Bio: 

Kelley Kosow is the author of The Integrity Advantage, a motivational speaker, and the Chief Executive Officer of the highly acclaimed Ford Institute. She continues the legacy of the New York Times bestselling author and thought leader, the late Debbie Ford, and leads the development and teachings of The Ford Institute’s transformational programs to thousands of people across the globe. Known as a “kick-ass coach” to high-level executives, change makers, and celebrities committed to personal transformation, Kelley blends her quick wit, laser sharp insight, and relentless compassion to help people upgrade their lives on a cellular level. Throughout her impressive career as a successful lawyer turned personal growth super star, she has been featured in Oprah Magazine as someone who could “Dream it, Do it,” as well as In Style, People, Working Mother, Latina, NY Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and LA Times. Kelley has also appeared on “The Balancing Act” and Better.tv. Connect with Kelley at http://www.kelleykosow.com