Did You Build Your Own Identity?


“Do (you) have a realistic view of who you are and feel you have no say in shaping your life? This is an entrapment that can be broken free from. Start by asking some simple questions to challenge your perception about yourself.”

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The way we see ourselves can shape our sense of well-being, career choices, level of success, the relationships we have and how much we earn (Akerlof & Kranton, 2010).

Our personal identity shapes our life so powerfully, yet, oftentimes we are not actively participating in the process of shaping who we are; but instead allowing ourselves to be defined or influenced by others. Social psychologists have found that we all want to please others and behave in a way that is accepted by others, and that we are willing to take on these people’s opinion about who are we as true. Aronson and Mettee (1968) did an experiment using people with no real psychology credentials to pretend as if they are experts
in judging people’s personalities to tell participants what kind of people they were. This study showed that participants can be induced to conceive themselves in various ways by accepting feedback from pretend experts as an accurate evaluation of their personalities.

How many times have we taken what other people have said about us as if it were true? Especially people who are in a position of power or influence in our life. We are particularly vulnerable in our childhood and early adolescence to accept other people’s perception of us without questioning. Many of what people had said about us may have become part of our self-beliefs and has been self-fulfilling in our life. Normally, as we develop, our experiences widen and we go through a period of inner growth to form our own
opinion of ourselves differently.

According to the famous psychologist, Erik Erikson (1958) stone; it evolves and in fact you can deliberately shape your own identity. One of the ways of actively shaping your own identity is to ask the “how would I know it is true?” and “according to whom?” questions. This is about challenging the assumptions you have about yourself and identifying where these assumptions came from. I see many clients who suffer from depression and feel they are trapped in a world that is not their own. One of the key issues is about the fact that they do not have a realistic view of who they are and they also felt that they have no say in shaping their life. This is an entrapment that can be broken free from. Start by asking these simple questions to challenge your perception about yourself and shape who you want to become.

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4 thoughts on “Did You Build Your Own Identity?

    1. Hi Madeline, thank you for the kind words! Not too sure about you, for me to challenge my own assumptions about myself is often one of the most rewarding experiences, though very confronting at times. This is written from the heart so I hope it is helpful. Sonya

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