Updated: Oct 28, 2022
We all have a unique identity. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there has never been, there isn’t, and there will never be another you. Ever. We’re as unique as our fingerprints, as snowflakes, as stars and as diamonds.
Some of us have a strong sense of self, for others it’s less defined.
You might not spend much time consciously thinking about your identity but it affects your life on a day to day basis. Really knowing who you are helps you live with purpose, with confidence, recognise your own worth and overall it contributes to good emotional wellbeing.
What is identity?
Identity includes everything we use to define ourselves; our beliefs, ethics, values, style, race, gender, sexuality, personality, likes and dislikes. It’s shaped by our memories, experiences, background and relationships.
Why is identity important?
Having a good knowledge and being clear about your identity makes it easier to accept your entire self, both the bits you’re proud of the bits you’re not. If you do feel dissatisfied with certain aspects of yourself, you’ll have an easier time addressing those areas when you have a strong sense of yourself.
Lacking a clearly defined sense of self, on the other hand, makes it tough to know exactly what you want. If you feel uncertain or indecisive when it comes to making important choices, you may end up struggling.
At best you might simply drift through life, carried by other people and circumstances. At worst it can lead to discontent, unhappiness and depression.
Your identity isn't fixed
Your identity evolves throughout your life and as your roles change. It’s worth thinking about every now and then. We’ve all experimented as teens and young adults, trying on different appearances, friends, hobbies and sometimes gender and sexualities. It doesn’t just stop there. Some aspects of your identity can change with the experiences you go through, and your life stage.
I struggled quite a bit with my identity after becoming a mum. I felt like I'd lost myself. I wasn’t the old me any more, but I didn’t really know who I was, or who I was becoming. It made me feel totally lost, unhappy and down. Thankfully it kickstarted a journey for me that I really needed to go on and it had a happy ending!
Working out who you are
It’s always possible to develop a clearer sense of self, for the you of today. So how can you figure out that all important question, who am I?
Try these strategies to get more clarity:
1. Define your values
Your values are a huge part of your identity and can help you recognise what matters most to you and help you make important decisions. They can also help guide the boundaries you set with yourself and other people in your life.
Take a look at my post here on how and why to work out your values.
2. Make your own decisions
It’s important to make choices that are best for you (and your kids if you have them) without needing input from others.
Seeking guidance from others doesn’t mean you lack a sense of self. It’s wise to talk over difficult decisions with trusted loved ones but if you do this with every decision it might mean you’re reassurance seeking because you don’t know what’s best for you, or you don’t have trust and confidence in yourself.
3. Spend time alone
When you want to get to know someone, you spend time with them. Getting to know yourself on a deeper level will involve some quality time alone. This is the one thing that works best for me. It’s really healthy to take time away from others. You could try:
- Spending time in nature
- Reading more books
- Trying new hobbies
A few journaling prompts for identity to help you are:
- Do I define myself by my relationships/job?
- What are my strengths?
- What brings me joy?
- Do my choices reflect my own interests or someone else's?
- Do I have different persona’s to fit into different situations?
As always if you'd like some help working this out, get in touch to book your free 30 minute consultation to find out if coaching is for you.
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