Developing Personal Identity

The only constant in life is change. Sounds like an oxymoron but it really is true. Here’s how it works: A trend starts, picks up momentum and blows right past the point of balance. What happens next ?

It turns around and does the same thing in the opposite direction. Like a pendulum swinging from side to side, life is always in a state of motion and changes direction frequently. So, how do we maintain our personal identity and avoid an identity crisis if everything is always changing?

Can we achieve stability in motion ?
True stability is not the absence of change ! Rather, stability is the ability to maintain balance in a changing world. As individuals, our challenge is to develop a strong, inner sense of balance so that our sense of personal identity is not easily confused by changing external influences.

When you feel balanced internally, your sense of personal identity is not threatened just because circumstances have changed. This means that you are both adaptable and stable at the same time.

-Developing your inner personal identity gyroscope-
Inner stability requires a degree of internal fortitude. We can begin to develop this fortitude by recognizing and appreciating our own unique set of resources, strengths, values, and abilities. To actively maintain our personal identity during times of change we need to spend some time figuring out who we are as a person and learn to connect with that person on a core level.

Sadly, most of us have lost touch with our creative self. We have allowed the roles we play to define who we are as a person when it should be the other way around. From this perspective the winds of change can easily throw us off balance and confuse our deeper sense of personal identity.

-4 Powerful outside influences-
1) Jobs and friends. If you get your personal identity from what you do, then the loss of a job can trigger a full-blown identity crisis. If your personal identity is based on who you know, the loss of a friend might cause you to question who you really are.

2) Advertisers. We would all like to think that we make up our own minds about most things. In reality we are constantly being conditioned by our environment to link certain things with pain or pleasure. Advertisers study human behavior in an effort to link their products to our emotions. Their advertising campaigns are designed to create subconscious, emotional associations designed to influence the choices we make.

3) Associates. The attitude of our close associates also has a powerful influence on our personal identity paradigms. Their opinions can actually precondition us to view things the way that they do. We may value someone else’s opinion so much, that we subconsciously adopt their viewpoint without any personal experience.

4) Crowds. Groups can also shape our preferences and by extension, our personal identity. In such cases, acceptance often hinges on our ability to conform to group opinion. Wanting to accepted can move us to alter our behavior and preferences. Whether the changes we make are beneficial or otherwise will depend on the sort of crowd we associate with.

-Internal verses external-
Your life and its many pursuits should be an expression of your most cherished dreams and core values. Not the ones dictated to you by advertisers, friends, or group opinions.

Most people choose a life course and personal identity that is based on external criteria. They end up following a path that leads them away from an honest expression of their true self. Consequently, with each step, they actually distance themselves from the life they truly long for.

-Know yourself-
Circumstances and friends have a way of changing. Sometimes they support our dreams and passions while at other times they provide a challenge. The ability to keep your dreams alive in the face of challenging circumstances is one of the greatest attributes of a successful person.

To accomplish this requires that you actually know who you really are and what you really want. Once you are in touch with your true self, the changes around you become much less influential. Instead of your personal identity being anchored to external forces, it remains safe and secure no matter which way the winds of change decide to blow.