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Do you have a clear sense of who you are? Personal identity

Do you have a clear sense of who you are? Personal identity

“Identification is always more or less in contrast with collective rules, since it is separation and differentiation from generality …” – Jung

That of ‘ identity  is a very salient issue in psychology. Many authors have studied theories on how and when we start to “build” our identity . Personal identity is the conception of who we are and how we relate to the world . Personality can be defined (simplistically) as the way we bring our identity to light. Identity and personality are two concepts that strongly intersect each other.

When we talk about identity development we try to represent those evolutionary steps that lead to the consolidation and affirmation of what an individual feels he is . According to developmental psychology theorists, at birth the baby cannot distinguish himself from the attachment figure.

If on the one hand we come into the world unaware that we are a unique identity and in itself , on the other we are born alongside people who already have a clear idea about our identity . When we are in the womb, our parents start by giving us a name, start fantasizing about what we will do, our temperament and our career … these fantasies have an impact on the development of personal identity and even more on identity gender.

The identification process

It is at the age of three that a first big revolution takes place: the process of individuation begins and we develop a conception of ourselves and what place we occupy in the context in which we live . In our childhood we move within a few reference points: what our parents tell us and social / cultural influences. The first idea we make of ourselves, in practice, is the result of what we are told and how others make us feel . Individual qualities and abilities play a peripheral role and count more factors such as sexual gender (male / female), religious environment, interests, culture of the family environment… It is in time and in the different evolutionary passages.that we constantly build and modify our identity and personality.

Identification, that is, the process of “building” one’s identity, begins in childhood and continues in stages. We face an important stage during adolescence, when, as children, we explore our sense of self and the role we want in the world. Identity continues to be confirmed or changed even in adulthood.

There are a thousand things in the detection process that can go wrong. For example, an extremely oppressive or totalitarian caregiver (usually the mother) may leave very little room for the  development of the child’s individual identity . In practice, many of us grew up without the real possibility of developing our own identity but had to develop an identity based on parental desires. Parents were then replaced by social dictates (school context, institutions) and emotional expectations (partner, lover, friends …), finding us developing an identity that has little of itself and much of the other.

In these contexts it  is easy to confuse who you are and what you want, it  is easy to confuse your needs with those of others and it is  difficult to really find yourself .

Many people are firmly convinced that they know each other when, in reality, they have done nothing but explore the atrium of their identity. Other people have stopped their growth process in adolescence, maintaining an absolutist and radical vision of life.

The way to be yourself

Identification is undoubtedly an individual way, however in following it we are inevitably conditioned by others. We are constantly inserted in a collective context and therefore, no form of identification can be exempt from conditioning. Deep self-knowledge marks the right borderline between oneself and the other . It is important to understand this because, however individual it may be, no process of individuation should lead to estrangement or detachment from the social fabric. Again, if we are subjected to social marginalization in the construction of identity, something has gone wrong.

To put it all in Jung’s words: «The concept of individuation plays a part in our psychology that is anything but negligible. Identification is in general the process of formation and characterization of individuals, and in particular the development of the psychological individual as being distinct from generality , from collective psychology. Identification is therefore a process of differentiation which has as its goal the development of the individual personality “(Psychological types, 1920).

With the process of individuation we go the way to  become what we are . Again to put it better with CG Jung’s words: «The identification has no other purpose than to  free the Self , on the one hand, from the false envelopes of the” Person “, on the other hand, from the suggestive power of the images of the unconscious . “

The importance of self-love

Identification brings with it a good dose of self-love: by building one’s identity one learns to accept oneself in the totality of the parts of oneself. On my Facebook account I had a good number of debates with people who mistakenly overlap the concept of self-love with that of individualism and selfishness.

To say that it is necessary to build your own complete identity and feel good about yourself is  not selfish. The individuation includes, within certain limits, a  healthy selfishness but it does not end there. With individualization and self-love, internal and external complexities are integrated. This means that the importance of altruism and relationships is not ignored .

Identification is a process that  favors both self-esteem and a profound respect for the other . Any growth process requires comparison with each other and relationships.

The very discovery of one’s personal identity cannot be seen as a solitary and introverted work but as an exploration of oneself immersed in a social context. The comparison with parents, lovers, children, friends … work environment and so on.

Why is it important to identify yourself?

“Here you can ask why it is desirable for a man to identify himself. It is not only desirable, but indispensable, because the individual, not differentiated from the others, falls into a state and commits actions that put him at odds with himself . From every unconscious mixing and indissociation, in fact, a compulsion to be and to act as one is not. Hence one can neither agree to this nor take responsibility for it. You feel in a degrading state, not free and unethical. ” (CGJung, The I and the unconscious)

NB: although I have often mentioned Jung, Jung’s concept of individuation is much more complex than what is stated in the text.

Work on your personal identity

Life is constantly changing and so our identity is constantly updated. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of this evolution and many end up taking root in the same schemes, placing big limits on their growth.

Having a strong sense of personal identity will allow us to move around the world safely, will allow us to forge functional ties and to mark healthy boundaries. A strong sense of self  does not make us feel lost  nor does it make us emerge defeated by any confrontation with the other. A good sense of personal identity allows us to  cooperate with each other and not compete . So, as you can understand, the very concept of “self-love” has intrinsic respect for the other.

Speaking of personal identity, here are some questions that can help you get to know yourself better and work on your self-love.

Questions to help you know yourself better

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your short term goals?
  • What about long-term goals?
  • Who matters most to you?
  • Who are the people who give you the most support?
  • What are you ashamed of?
  • What was the first experience that led you to be ashamed of yourself?
  • What do you like to do to have fun and have fun?
  • Which new activities would you like to experience?
  • What is worrying you?
  • What makes you feel most proud of yourself?
  • What are your values?
  • Where do you feel most secure?
  • What or who gives you the most comfort?
  • If you weren’t afraid, what would you like to do?
  • What’s your biggest failure?
  • What do you like about your job and what don’t you like?
  • What can you do to take care of yourself?
  • What is the happiest memory you have?
  • What do you really feel grateful for?
  • When you’re down, what can you do to improve your mood?
  • When you are stressed, what can you do to help yourself?

Note well. These are not questions to be answered superficially. Take the right time and answer one question a day. Write the answers in a notebook, don’t just capture abstract concepts with the mind that wouldn’t help the elaboration process.