Why our IDENTITY FAILS US

“It is hard, so terribly hard, to please yourself. Far from being the easy thing that it sounds like, it is almost the hardest thing in the world, because we are not always comfortable with that true self that lies deep within us.

Before we get deep into the article, ask yourself this question: “Do I have a clear sense of who I am?”

If we are to poll everyone on this question, it’s likely that the majority of responses would be “Yes.” After all, we’re (mostly) adults now, having undergone the process of “finding ourselves” – an at-best cloudy notion that assigns a certain period for this “self-discovery.”

But then there are those who would answer “No” to our hypothetical poll. There are many reasons why someone would respond this way. For example, the wanderers and dreamers and those never feel settled into this existence (more on this later.) Either answer is okay – and can even be good. It all depends on the individual and their circumstances.

The idea that we all have “place” in this world is, in itself, both debatable and subjective. Maybe we don’t want to have or want “a place”(e.g. “the wanderers and dreamers). Some defiantly ask “what is “a place” in this world supposed to mean anyways?”

Perhaps we’re posing the wrong question. Instead, maybe we should ask “Do I know my identity?”

What is our identity?

Put simply, our identity is the way we see ourselves. The vantage point of identity also influences how we view others and the world.

Our identity encompasses and intertwines multiple human elements. It is made up of our culture, family relationships, exposure to stress and trauma, life experiences, social relationships, personality, and other characteristics.

Our identity is also malleable and even fragile. Internal and external influences often shape our identity for better or worse, and can even incite an identity crisis – also known as a “loss of identity” or “losing oneself.”

When we lose our true identity, every facet of our lives is affected: work, relationships, disposition, motivation, and so on. A loss of identity is often perceived by the individual as “feeling lost,” often leaving someone bewildered and unsure about life and any meaning behind it.

We experience a loss of identity for many reasons. Here are some common ones:

(1) Self-neglect: Putting the needs of others before our own, leading to a failure to recognize the worthiness and deservedness of our needs, goals, and dreams.

(2) Detachment: Separating from our inner-monologue and a loss of emotional intelligence. Instead of centering in on our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, we dull them by participating in self-gratification. Whether through technology, food, alcohol, drugs, or something else, we’ll (sometimes unknowingly) delay self-discovery.

(3) Life events: Transitioning from role-to-role due to the demands of life. Going through a divorce, job loss or other traumatic event often manipulates our brain chemistry and distorts our self-perception.

(4) Social expectations: Society can be cruel – something that we discover at a relatively young age. Any unique aspect of a person can be critiqued; from one’s appearance, intelligence, sexual orientation, perceived “quirks,” income, job title…on and on it goes.

When we’re looked upon as outsiders, we either adapt or isolate ourselves. Either way, such people will always “feel different.” As a result – in an attempt to navigate through life – we attempt “fit in” when necessary.

This false persona comes at a high price: loss of one’s identity. Some within this “group” resort to drug abuse or become victims of mental illness. Tragically, some people take their own precious lives, thinking that they’ll never be “understood.”

inspirational quote

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