Identity crisis is a state when a person questions his or her sense of self or his place in the world. The concept dates back to the work of developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, who believed this to be one of the most important conflicts people face. According to Erikson, an identity crisis is a time of intense analysis and different ways of looking at oneself. We tell you how to understand yourself and get through the times when we are unsure who we are and what we want. What is meant by the word “identity.”
Identity includes experiences, relationships, beliefs, values, and memories. They constitute a subjective sense of ourselves – how we describe our character, positive and negative traits, values, outlook on life. It helps us create an image of ourselves that remains fairly constant, even as new aspects of the personality develop or strengthen over time.
What is an identity crisis?
There is no diagnosis of “identity crisis” in psychology. The most famous types of this psychological state are the crisis of a quarter of life or middle age. An identity crisis occurs when a person is faced with worries and questions about their life. Here are the questions that might be:
- what am I passionate about?
- What are my spiritual beliefs?
- What are my values?
- What is my role in society or the purpose of life?
- Who am I?
While each of us may question our sense of self from time to time, we may face an identity crisis if we are going through a big change or stressful time. Along with this, the above questions begin to interfere with our daily life. Note that negative feelings about yourself or life can indicate incipient depression. We have already been told how to distinguish depression from just a bad mood in this material.
Why identity crisis occurs
While identity crises are usually associated with adolescence, they can affect anyone at different times. They often arise in response to a dramatic change in life. These can be various social events, for example:
- the beginning of a new relationship;
- termination of marriage or partnership;
- experiencing a traumatic event;
- birth of a child;
- change in health status;
- loss of a loved one;
- dismissal or starting work.
And an identity crisis can also appear due to the fascination with social networks. Many use Instagram profiles to create false identities, highlighting the over positives and ignoring the downsides. If you constantly idealize yourself and your own life, you can face the conflict between “online” and reality and begin to doubt who you are and your role in life.
How does the identity crisis manifest
Diagnosing an identity crisis is not easy. Several factors indicate that you are faced with it:
- you are not sure who you are in general or in connection with a specific element of life – relationships, age or profession;
- you feel confused because you do not know who you are and what place you occupy in society;
- important life events happened recently that affected your sense of self;
- you question your values, faith, beliefs, interests, or job choices, all of which have a significant impact on how you feel about yourself;
- you are looking for a deeper sense of purpose, reason, or passion in your life;
- you are dissatisfied with your work and interpersonal relationships;
- you have decreased motivation and appeared indifferent to education, work, and life in general;
- you get the feeling that you are not suitable for your friends, family, or colleagues;
- You may feel signs of depression: melancholy, changes in appetite, mood, interest in life, ability to concentrate.
How to deal with an identity crisis
Identity crisis causes many problems for a person. For example, you may notice a drop in productivity because you wonder if you’re doing exactly what you want to do. Or lie to other people because she is concerned about how they will perceive the changes taking place in you. There are several ways to cope with an identity crisis:
See a psychotherapist
Seeing a therapist helps address some of the underlying problems contributing to an identity crisis. One approach, known as cognitive behavioral therapy, aims to eliminate negative thoughts and behaviors that can cause problems with your self-image. If an identity crisis is accompanied by depression or other disorders, the doctor will prescribe medications in addition to therapy.
Find out who you are and find your identity
When you are in doubt about who you are, it can be helpful to look inside and think about the things you are passionate about. What are you interested in? Are there things you don’t like anymore? By asking questions and exploring new hobbies and interests, you can better know yourself.
Spend some time thinking about your goals in life. What do you want to achieve? What things bring you the most joy and happiness?
An identity crisis can signify that some needs are currently not being met. Therefore, finding ways to do this can bring a greater sense of satisfaction into your life and help you cope with the crisis.
Reassess aspects of life and move on
Change the way you think about difficult situations and incidents, and give yourself time to understand what is bothering you. Losses and negative changes can be painful, but they also give us new opportunities to reflect on who we are and what we have achieved.
Your goals and dreams are probably different now than they were five or ten years ago. Habit, circumstances, and pace of life may have prevented you from seeing these changes earlier. Think about how significant situations have affected you and your attitude, dreams, and goals. This will help you better understand who you are now and overcome identity difficulties.
Be open to change and the hardships associated with it
Fear of change is rarely beneficial. We often have anxiety, especially about significant changes, because they affect our entire life. But change is not necessarily negative — in fact, it is natural and beneficial. Instead of resisting change, people can adapt and adjust their identity based on what is happening in their lives.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Start fighting self-doubt. Remind yourself that while someone is deciding to come to terms with an identity crisis, you are working to overcome it. Define your likes, dislikes, values, the multiple roles you play.
Think back to positive and negative past experiences that have influenced how you currently think about yourself. Be sure to point out your strengths and development opportunities. Become aware of how you feel, and understand that such feelings are normal. Treat yourself with the same respect you would like your best friend.
Seek help from friends, family, or places that can help you learn more about your interests and important aspects of life. Adequate social support can help you better cope with big changes, pressures, or identity problems. Friends, family members, social clubs, team sports, and support groups can all help you cope with an identity crisis and not go through it alone.