We can hold multiple identities

You can be a teacher, a mother or friend. Each has its own sense and assumptions that are internalized as identity.

A major mission of self-development during early adolescence is the separation of different selves as a function of social context with an awareness of the potential contradictions.

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Identity and our values

Identity is mainly concerned with the question: “Who am I?” What does it mean to be who I am?

Identity relates to the values that guide the choices we make (relationships, career, etc.). These choices reflect who we are and what we value.

Most of us just incorporate the values of our parents or the dominant cultures (for example, the pursuit of materialism, power, and appearance). This is risky, because these values may not feel authentic and can lead us to live an unfulfilling life.

Not having a consistent sense of identity will lead to uncertainty about what one wants to do in life. In contrast, people that live fulfilled lives stay true to their values and pursue meaningful goals.

Psychologists consider that identity development is a question of “finding yourself” by matching your skills with available social roles.

Defining yourself within a social world becomes one of the most difficult choices you will have to make.

  1. Finding and developing your personal potentials (those things that the person can do better than other things).
  2. Choosing your purpose in life.
  3. Finding opportunities to implement that potential and purpose.

It continues to develop through our lives. Knowing our identity increases self-esteem and reduces depression and anxiety.

When we are doing what we think we should be doing, we are happy.

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Common signs of enmeshment, when the boundaries between personal life and work are fuzzy, are:

  1. When the job is eating up all their time, with none left for hobbies or family.
  2. When the job is the only thing in the mind, and the only thing to discuss in any conversation.
  3. When the job becomes a person’s only definition.

When our career starts to define our own value, we have enabled our success and failure to directly affect our self-worth, something which can have detrimental effects on our identity.

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Authenticity In Psychology

Our lives are uncertain and impermanent, and paradoxically, this can lead us towards living authentically, as we realize that death is unavoidable, values are subjective, and life by itself is flux.

The Self-Perception Theory reveals that people manipulate their own information so that the audience is impressed. People portray authenticity and manipulate their behaviours to appear real when it is necessary.

Instead of categorising jobs in terms of what you do, we can group it in terms of the psychological profile - the traits of human nature they weaken or reinforce.

  • Patience vs impatience: Does the job train you to prioritise the now (A+E nurse, news editor)? Or the future (aeronautical engineer)?
  • Suspicious vs trusting: Journalist, antique dealer vs psychotherapy, air traffic control?
  • Speculative vs concrete
  • Consensus-seeking vs independent.

When we are in a particular psychological environment, it will influence what we assume other people are like and shapes who we are over time.

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