Creating Your Personal Identity

Who do you most admire? Do you regularly achieve what you want? Have you thought about the legacy you’ll leave? If these sound like mature, adult questions, it might surprise you to know you began forming these answers in childhood.

POPULAR BELIEF PATTERNS
As young children, we began to form our personal identity by observing our place in the world around us. We then made conclusions about behavior, attitude, and ourselves. While this process is perfectly normal, it can become problematic when these beliefs go unchallenged and lead to distorted perceptions of reality in adulthood. Some examples are:
  • I can’t do things on my own.
  • I have to be perfect for people to like me.
  • I’m not smart enough to do what I’d really like.
  • I am/am not _____________ (you fill in the blank).

DEVELOPING YOUR PERSONAL IDENTITY

If you’re unsatisfied with how you view yourself and the world around you, you can work toward shaping a clear personal identity that can lead you to your desired vision of life. If your identity is shaped by external circumstances – like wealth, attractiveness, or relationship status – your perceived value can flip in an instant. A better and more stable choice is to base your personal identity on values and principles that you can actively control. Here are a few steps to help you discover and develop your personal identity:

  • Choose – Pick five values you desire to emulate in your life.
  • Identify – Determine what each value means to you. If you desire an honest life, write down what an honest life looks like to you. Try to be as specific as possible.
  • Determine – Consider how your choices contribute to or minimize that value. Learn from your past to help direct your future.
  • Practice – Incorporate your new values into daily actions. For instance, if you want to be trustworthy, ask yourself, “What would it look like to be trustworthy in this situation?”
  • Repeat – Work your plan and review as needed.
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