What is identity?
According to Psychology Today, identity encompasses the memories, experiences, relationships, and values that create one’s sense of self. Over time, this perception of self creates an answer to the question, “Who am I?” as new aspects of identity are developed through experiences.
Identity includes both external and internal characteristics of oneself. External characteristics are those which a person has no control over, such as height, socioeconomic class, and race. If you are struggling with identifying with your race, ethnicity, or finding your cultural identity, click here to read more. Internal qualities include more abstract concepts like opinions, values, religious beliefs, and morals. These qualities serve as a guiding compass for how one lives and makes choices.
Identity can also be influenced by relationships with people in your life, such as your parents or your peers. If you’re struggling with your identity in relation to your family, such as differences in religion or beliefs, click here to read more about family and identity.
Am I struggling with my identity?
If you feel overly concerned about the impression you have on others, or feel that who you are at the core is not being expressed, you may be struggling with your identity. If you feel that you are struggling with your gender identity or sexuality, click here to read more about LGBTQ+ identities.
Do you enjoy your work life? Your career? Do you feel that it fits you? If not, you may be struggling with a discrepancy between your identity and your career or finances. Click here to read more about this.
Why is knowing my identity important?
Identity is related to mental health and psychological well-being. Authenticity is a concept that describes knowing yourself and acting in accordance with who you believe you are, and is correlated with self- esteem, coping ability, and vitality. Therefore, not feeling like your true identity is being expressed can be destructive to your mental health.
What causes an identity crisis?
Life stressors and big life transitions can cause you to question your sense of self. Life stressors include events such as getting married or divorced, moving, experiencing a traumatic event, losing a loved one, losing or getting a job, and discovering new health issues.
According to Erik Erikson, a renowned Psychologist, there are seven areas of conflict that you can examine to find a solution to your identity crisis: Time perspective, self-certainty, role experimentation, anticipation of achievement, sexual identity, leadership polarization, and ideological convictions. Click here to read more about these different conflict areas.
What should I do if I’m struggling with my identity?
It is completely normal to question who you are. As human beings we are constantly growing and changing and adapting, so it’s okay if you aren’t sure about yourself on occasion. However, if your absence of a sense of identity is affecting your functioning and you feel you are constantly thinking about it, seek help. A negative view of yourself can lead to depression or suicidal thoughts. If you experience suicidal thoughts, you should seek help immediately. Click here to schedule an appointment with a clinician at CARE if you are feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts.
Looking inward and exploring within yourself can help you discover your identity. If you feel like you aren’t sure how or where to start, schedule a visit with a therapist at CARE. Additionally, searching for joy in your life can help you understand what you value. Finally, find support. Seek help from your family and friends, or a health professional.
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