Raise your hand if you questioned your identity or experienced an identity crisis at least once this past year

I believe if we were in a zoom meeting (pandemic days!) all our hands would be raised. Let us face the fact, the world has rapidly changed, and we are not familiar with the “new normal”.

Did these changes have an impact on our identity?
How are we internally responding to these changes?

Some are struggling, some are thriving. Let’s take a moment to reflect and understand how we react to uncertainty – it can facilitate growth!

Let’s begin with understanding identity formation. An individual’s concept of who they are forms their personality. The concept of self may arise from a person’s social groups that reinforce their values and beliefs which in turn validate feelings and increases self-esteem. Going through life, meeting people, accumulating experiences, and making life-changing decisions shape and forms our identity.

According to Erikson, identity develops in eight stages. During each stage, some form of psychosocial crisis or conflict occurs. How we personally develop rests on how this conflict is resolved.

Stages of development by Erik Erikson

Early years

Interaction with parents, guardians, teachers, and peers develop and influence self-concept and confidence.

  • 0 – 18 months- Uncertainty about the world. Trust may replace fear if infants are supported during this period.
  • 1 – 3 years- Children practice being independent but are afraid of failure.
  • 3 – 6 years- Children try to assert control but feel guilty if it’s disregarded by parents/guardians.

Adolescent years

This is a crucial stage of identity formation, adolescents explore who they are and experiment with varies roles, jobs and activities. This can cause confusion which may lead to an identity crisis. Resolving this crisis helps to establish a strong sense of self.

  • 6 – 12 years- Children compare their abilities to others and feel insufficient.
  • 12 – 19 years- Exploring beliefs and values.

Adulthood years

This is the stage whereby a sense of complexity in relationships becomes the centre focus. Success leads to a healthy relationship, while failure in this stage can lead to loneliness and isolation.

  • 20 – 25 years- Young adults start to worry about finding a partner, fearing loneliness.
  • 26 – 64 years- Adults feeling unproductive if not contributing to society.
  • 65 – death – There is a chance of becoming depressed if people have not achieved their life goals.

It’s normal for conflicts to arise when our values/beliefs and reality is questioned. Sudden changes can disrupt our self-identity, for example, losing a job may threaten our professional identity which may leave us with overwhelming questions and doubt. A constructive way to explore who we are is through therapy. Working with a mental health practitioner to develop awareness and accepting our new self and reducing anxiety regarding the unknown.

Is a current situation threatening your identity? Sometimes having someone to talk to and explore ideas can help ease anxiety and increase self-esteem. If this sounds like something that would help you, click on “login & book” and speak to one of our qualified counsellors and begin your journey today.

“The reward for conformity is that everybody likes you, except yourself” – Rita Mae Brown, writer and activist.

Three steps to navigate an identity crisis

  1. What makes you, you!?

Take a deep delve into your personality and list down the traits that are important to you. Don’t forget to reflect on the person you aspire to become. What are the barriers to this and what routines do you already practice that links you to who you want to become? Have you considered what is some of your inspirations?

2. What are your values and beliefs?

What works for you that does not work for others? Did you make any major decisions in your life that had an impact on your beliefs? What values will you never let go off and do they represent you as a person?

3. What are your goals?

In 2021, let’s not make unrealistic goals. Instead, let’s break them into realistic small daily goals. What are the three things that you can achieve, improve or change this week?

What are your answers looking like? Do you have a sense of self and a sense of direction? If you are struggling let us help you! Counsellors at Halcyon are ready to walk with you towards a lasting change. Drop your barriers and book now.