A person is not his or her behaviour
When you associate yourself closely with your mistakes, faults, sins or errors you become stuck with them, each and every one of them. It is neither advantageous nor helpful to do that, and it is not likely to make you successful in life. When your mistakes and your own self are treated separately, it is a great deal easier to rectify your mistakes. Identifying your faults or occasional misbehaviours with your own self involves changing yourself to change your mistakes or faults and it is never easy to bring about such a change.
You must recognize that your faults are not characteristic of you. By doing that you are telling yourself that they don't exist permanently in you so that eliminating them is a possibility. For example, when you have not succeeded in accomplishing a task, you are likely to feel it's your fault and blame yourself for it. It’s either you look upon it as “I failed” or “I am a failure”. Which is preferable to your self-esteem? An action deemed to have failed may not dent your confidence much and chances are you will make another attempt to succeed at it. But involving your identity (I am a failure) is pretty likely to erode whatever confidence you have left. This will probably cause you to quit making further attempt at it.
On the other hand, if you regard your faults as typical of you, you are likely to cook up excuses for yourself whenever you are at fault. For example, you habitually insult your friends, family members and employees and get away with it by claiming you cannot help it because that’s the way you are, you are most probably not going to change your habit. You have associated your behaviour with your identity. If you will only recognize this behaviour as not part of or separate from yourself, you will find getting rid of the habit a lot easier. Each time, you rid yourself of a bad habit, it aids in boosting your self-image which is the way you see yourself.
Whether you realize it or not, you often tend to judge others by their behaviour. Say, you encounter in the marketplace an elderly man yelling angrily at someone. Your instant perception is that he is an ill-tempered crazy old coot. Is your perception justifiable? Perhaps not, you are identifying his personality with his behaviour which may not be realistic. It could very well be that he is driven by circumstances to act in that manner. It could also be that he is not at all ill-tempered and this could be the very first time that he loses control of his temper in public. Separate the man from his behaviour and you may only detest his behaviour but not him. Similarly, if society adopts “Love the prisoners, not their actions” it will facilitate ready acceptance of ex-prisoners and help change their characters or behaviour.
When behaviour and identity are viewed as separate, you can change your behaviour and you tend to be more tolerant of other people’s behaviour however strange it may be. By believing that what you do and what you have is the real you, you have committed the gravest error in your life.