Self Identity refers to an individual’s perception of “self” in relation to any number of characteristics, including but not limited to gender roles and sexuality, racial identity, career choice and many others.
As humans we have a propensity to label everything – and that includes ourselves, even if we don’t always realise it!
Why is self identity important?
Because it isn’t fixed. As we grow and change through our life experiences and relationships, our self identity evolves too.
But ironically, our self identity can feel like the anchor that is supposed to stop us from getting washed away in the flood of change… which is why some of the most difficult points in our lives can feel so painful – because we are unknowingly resisting a shift in our identity, or need to grieve for an identity we are leaving behind.
Our self identity not only allows us to express ourselves as unique and individual, but also as belonging to and connecting with others who share certain aspects of our self identity.
How can we explore it?
A great place to start is with some very simple questions:
- What do I say when I’m asked to introduce myself in a work or a social setting?
- What labels or titles do I claim, either jokingly, or within a family/friends context?
- I am …. (write this out on a piece of paper, repeating the start of the sentence at least 10 times down the page – and complete the sentences!)
- I am not …. (write this out on a piece of paper, repeating the start of the sentence at least 10 times down the page – and complete the sentences!)
You can also keep an ear out for words you use to describe yourself (like: “Duh, I’m so silly!” or “I’m too old for that!”)
The more aware we are of our self identity and its significance, the more understanding we can be of our past and the more gently we might handle our next wave of self evolution. It might also help us be more flexible as we continue stepping closer to being the person we really want to be.
And for a bit of a laugh and some fun, have a look at some of the fabulous post-it note impressions on Flickr!