Identity crisis - Feeling lost? What can you do?

The development of a sense of self or identity is an important element of every person’s maturation. Faith, gender, and culture are just a few examples of how personality or elements of identity can be defined. Numerous characteristics, such as ethnicity, are predetermined before birth. Some characteristics, such as spoken language(s) or religious inclinations, can be changed later in life. It’s ordinary and common to struggle with many aspects of one’s individuality. It might take time and effort to develop an identity or sense of self, as well as the qualities that a person wishes to possess. This can lead to an identity crisis.

“If you really have your own identity you’ll keep on doing what you think is really right for you, and you’ll also understand the next step you want to take.”

Helmut Lang

The point is, without understanding who we really are, how we feel and what affects us the most, it is unlikely that we will ever find things that make us happy. We will spend a life of settling to things that will make us feel alive for a while, and never knowing where to stop or what to stick to. This can have us feeling lost, with many confusing questions like ‘who am I?’ which you will never know how to define.

 

What is identity?

It’s not just about the information you understand; it’s also about how you understand it. People are not born with a sense of self. Identity, on the other hand, is something that changes with time. Toddlers have basic identities and view things in an inner, incredibly simplistic way. People’s identities are formed by their representations, or by what they connect with. Because every identity is ultimately in connection to something else, what a person connects himself or herself with is ultimately who that person is. They may see themselves as a failure, powerless to change the path of their existence, or as someone who feels compelled to despise a specific religious group just because that is what followers of their own religious group “should” do. Those who have such particular views typically take them at surface level, even though they have no grounding in reality. Identity crisis is inevitable.

Individuals get more sophisticated in their identification with other people, places, and things as they become older and mature, and thus begin to evolve out of their original ego. A newborn kid may perceive her parents as an entity that lives simply to care for her, but as she grows older, she will begin to recognize that their parent has needs of her own and will begin to act lesser selfishly. Life circumstances can sometimes stymie this smooth fit from ego to mindfulness, causing a person’s identities to stagnate. Such individuals may be technically seniors, but they interact with others in the selfish way of a younger child, causing issues for themselves and others when their selfish expectations collide with those cherished by somebody else.

 

Characteristics of stable identity

“Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.”

– B. R. Ambedkar

To have a strong identity, we must be able to recognize that we were the same person in the past, present, and future. No matter where we are, we must have the same feelings. It does not imply that we always act in the same way. We may be grumpy, act differently under stress, or act differently depending on who we are with. However, this can lead to an identity crisis.

If you can relate to all or most of these, your identity is likely to be stable.

  • knows what they want
  • knows what they don’t like
  • have recognized their limits
  • know when to stop or not to stop
  • have principals
  • morals and values and a clear standard of what to and not to tolerate
  • have goals
  • have a sense of responsibility to everything they do
  • whatever they do, they tend to it with understanding
  • genuine with the decisions they make and understand why each decision is made
  • outsiders comment hardly affect them
  • know who they are more than anyone else

 

Symptoms of an identity crisis

An identity crisis isn’t however a diagnosable disease. It does not have noticeable symptoms such as fever or a running nose. It requires the individual to understand that they are confused with their identity to reach out for help.

However, here are a few indicators that may help you understand if you are dealing with an identity crisis.

  • You’re unsure of who you are, either in general or in connection to a specific element of your life, such as relationships, age, or profession.
  • You’re having a lot of turmoil on the inside because you’re not sure who you are or what your place in society is.
  • Significant life events, such as a divorce, have recently happened that have impacted your sense of self.
  • You’re doubting your values, faith, beliefs, interests, or job choice, all of which have a significant influence on how you view yourself.
  • You’re looking for a deeper sense of purpose, cause, or passion in your life.
  • It’s quite natural to wonder who you are, especially given how much we change during our lives. When it starts to impair your everyday thinking or functioning, you may be experiencing an identity crisis.
  • Uncertainty regarding a portion (or parts) of your personal or collective identity
  • Dissatisfaction with one’s work and interpersonal connections
  • Reduced motivation and indifference toward education, job, and life in general
  • Taken over by long-term professional goals, friendships, or other interpersonal ties
  • the feeling that you don’t fit in with your friends, family, or coworkers
  • Suffering from a sense of foreboding about the future
  • Feeling depressed, which might include melancholy, changes in appetite, mood, ability to focus, and interest in previously pleasant activities.

 

What causes an identity crisis?

Is it common to have an identity problem in this day and age of social media? Sure, many of us use our Facebook and Instagram profiles to create a false identity, highlighting our positive side while ignoring our flaws. The question is, fact if our incapacity to be genuine is limited to the internet? And does this imply that we stumble in every aspect of our lives?

You may be doubting your sense of self or identity if you’re having an identity crisis. This can happen as a result of major life events or pressures, as well as age or progression through a stage (for example, school, work, or childhood).

Despite identity crises are commonly associated with certain ages, they can affect anyone, at whichever age, at any moment in their lives.

Identity crises and other mental problems are mostly triggered by various life traumas. These factors don’t have to be awful in and of themselves, but they can still produce a lot of anxiety, leading you to doubt who you are and what you treasure.

The following are examples of such situations that can push you into crisis

  • getting hitched
  • divorced or separated from your spouse
  • moving
  • having been through a horrible experience
  • the death of a loved one
  • Getting or losing a job
  • new health problems

These and other facts can have a significant impact on your everyday life and self-perception. In addition, these are not the only factors that will affect you.

 

Treating an identity crisis

Is an identity crisis treatable? absolutely. As much as professional help such as counselling can guide you, there are also things you can practice to deal with an identity crisis.

Explore who you are and find your identity

Adolescents are the most likely to explore their identities. Many teens experiment with other personalities and value sets than the ones they were raised with. It’s a crucial element of maturation, and without it, an adult may find himself without a consciously selected identity. Never hough of this before? Well, now is as good a time as ever. You can try the following steps.

  • what are the qualities that make you who you are today?
  • what are your characteristics like?
  • think of what you value. What you count important. Also, how and why they became so valuable.
  • think of how these factors may have changed while you do life. Why did that happen? What is the effect of these changes on you, overall?

Recognize what keeps you afloat

When you feel like drowning, what keeps you up and alive? Could be the people around you. Think of these things, because it surely is a big part of who you are.

  • Think of that bond you love. How has it shaped you? Are you a better man because of it?
  • Think of why these bonds are important? How do they affect you?
  • If relationships don’t help, then think of what and why? Do you not like relationships? Have you also been so? If not, since when?

Recognize what you love doing

Not just relationships, even hobbies are also what keep individuals going in life. Outside of work or school, your relationships and hobbies usually take the most of your spare time. This can happen with or without your knowledge. Your hobbies and interests are a big part of what makes you who you are. Think of your hobbies, why you like them and how they have shaped you. Not understanding this can lead to an identity crisis.

Become more objective to avoid an identity crisis

Think long hard about what you are going to say or do before you react. Is this what you want to say? Is this what you want to do? Does this represent you as the person you are? Or, are you pretending again? Take some time to examine yourself and ask yourself some questions about what you like and don’t like any longer. Pose questions to yourself and see if you can answer them over time and if the answers help you figure things out. Remember that you don’t need to know everything, and your answers may alter from year to year or decade to decade. You don’t have to follow along just because you’re of a specific age, gender, or ethnic group if you don’t believe in what you’re following.

Reassess and keep going

Change the way you think about tough situations and occurrences, and give yourself time to figure out what’s bothering you. Loss and transition may be painful, but they also provide us with a fresh opportunity to reflect on who we are and what we’ve accomplished. Your objectives and dreams are probably different now than they were five or 10 years ago, but habit and circumstance may have blinded you to that shift. Think of the loss you suffered, how it impacted you and if that incident has had an effect on your dreams and goals? Are you the same person before it happened? If not, how have you changed?

Make a statement

It’s a good idea to practice expressing the ideals that are important to you. The expectations of others, as well as our own, can have a significant impact on how we feel. But don’t let society’s expectations define who you are or what you should enjoy.

Be open to change and challenges

Fearing change seldom does any good. Often individuals are afraid of change, particularly large changes that appear to be life-altering. But change isn’t necessarily a negative thing; in fact, it’s natural and good for our circumstances to shift, and some experts advise that rather than opposing change, people can adapt and adjust their identities.

Self-care is important to avoid an identity crisis

Increase your self-acceptance and self-awareness. Judgment is going to be normal and frequent. Remind yourself that while someone decides to put up with an identity crisis, you are working towards changing it. Identify your likes, dislikes, values, the multiple roles you play (with family and friends), good and negative prior experiences that have influenced how you currently think/feel about yourself, strengths, and development edges to improve your self-awareness. Recognize how you’re feeling and realize that it’s normal to have those sentiments. Treat yourself with the same respect that you would a friend.

Have a support system

Seek out help from friends, relatives, or places who can help you learn more about aspects of yourself or interests you’re interested in. Having adequate social support can help you cope better with large changes, pressures, or identity concerns. There are numerous resources available to assist you. This circle can include,

  • family members, partners, and pals
  • your neighbourhood or church
  • a new meetup group that shares your passions
  • a support group, particularly if you’re dealing with a new health problem
  • Individual or group therapy for mental health
  • sports that involve a group

Engage in new hobbies

You don’t have to have the perfect work to feel like you’re in a crisis, but if you’re not doing anything fulfilling in your life, you might be. Volunteering, taking up a new hobby, connecting with others, or any number of other activities outside of your job may provide you with satisfaction. Alternatively, you may discover that new work is a better fit for who you are.

Your total quality of life depends on your self-perception, and wasting time and energy on judgemental thinking will only get you so far. It may take time for the people you care about to accept any modifications you make, but being true to yourself will make you happy in the long run. If the tension becomes unbearable, seek professional assistance. This can come from a trusted relative or friend, or via a mental health expert who can assist you in resolving and coping with your situation.

Never be frightened to seek assistance. Life, mainly major changes, can be frightening, but we all go through them.

 

Can therapy help with an identity crisis?

Identity crisis is an emotional issue. It affects one’s mentality over anything else. Thus, counsellors and therapists can help you rid yourself of this.

“So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”

Steven Chbosky

When you’re having an identity crisis, talk therapy is the greatest approach to get aid. Therapy allows you to ask and process any questions you may have, as well as discover your strengths and values, work on your self-esteem, and process what may have led to the identity crisis in the first place.

When it comes to addressing an identity crisis through therapy, there are a variety of approaches. Talk therapy can help in general, but there are also more particular, evidence-based therapies that are commonly used. Cognitive-behavioural therapy, person-centred therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy are some of the options. Group treatment may also be beneficial. Treatment times vary depending on the therapy, but most will last between 8 and 12 sessions. However, therapists can and frequently do recommend more sessions based on your specific requirements, mental disease presentation, and purpose for treatment.

 

Why is it important to reach out for help?

Identity difficulties can lead to melancholy, pessimism, addiction, and other negative consequences. Psychotherapy provides a safe space for people to talk about their identity difficulties. People can minimize their despair, develop techniques to manage problems related to their identity concerns, and eventually find themselves through psychotherapy.

Certain mental health disorders might cause a person’s identity to be altered. Consider the following scenario:

  • Someone with codependency may build their sense of self based on the opinions of others.
  • Anybody experiencing depression may sense they are unwanted.
  • Someone suffering from grandiose delusions may imagine they are a mystical character or a celebrity.
  • A person suffering from widespread amnesia may completely forget who they are.

A person suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID) may establish several identities known as “alters.” These alter frequently have distinct personalities, mannerisms, and other characteristics. A person’s memory may contain gaps from when another identity was active. DID therapy frequently seeks to unite alters into a single self.

 

Help is here!

Research suggests that those who take steps to have identity crisis treated are happier than those trying to ignore it. Find yourself with recognized professional care, right here with us. Our panel of experienced clinicians is ready to assist you in eliminating your difficulties and helping you live a better life. Your ride towards a quality life can start here.