Identity Integration Issues
What exactly do I mean by ‘Identity Integration’?
Over the last 14 years here at Lee Psychology I have encountered literally hundreds of clients who tell me that they only suffer their particular ‘problem’ in certain situations, for example they only feel ‘anxious’ at home with their family, but at work they feel fine.
If that’s the case, I will often say, why don’t you just be the person you are ‘at work’ when you’re at home with the family?
This usually meets with a puzzled look and a reply of ‘I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it like that before’.
Our Identity is Transient
This is an interesting point and worth thinking about a bit.
Many people believe that ‘who they truly are’ is some sort of ‘genetic’ or ‘hard-wired’ feature of their biology and that the other ‘identity’ that has the skill to cope with problems is somehow ‘made-up’ and not who they really ‘are’.
Whilst this might ‘feel’ true, the fact is that our ‘true’ identity is ‘constructed’ (socially constructed) as the result of many different factors in our lives, including:
- Our early developmental experiences in childhood
- The ‘way’ we think about ourselves
- The way we have processed, or continue to process, the experiences we have each day
- Our degree of ‘resilience’
- Our social ‘connectedness’
- Who we ‘aspire’ to be and who we want people to ‘think’ we are
In this sense, we all, to a greater or lesser extent, ‘create’ the identity we want people to ‘see’ and respond to.
We’ve all come across this before in the expression ‘the mask we wear’ or what is known within the realm of Social Psychology, as our ‘performance’ on the ‘social stage’.
The fact is that ALL of the identities that we create and use are really who we are!
If You Can Fool the Masses Why Can’t You Fool Yourself?
Identity Integration, from a problem solving perspective, is about locating those aspects of your identity that ‘work’ for you (such as coping with Stress or Anxiety) and eliminating, or changing, those elements of your identity that don’t ‘serve’ you well, such as ‘worrying what other people think of you’ for example.
Often, these ‘unhelpful’ characteristics are ‘bound-up’ in one identity rather than another with many people believing that they are unable to take advantage of those skills in certain social situations (like at work or at home) because those skills ‘exist’ in an identity that isn’t who they ‘really’ are!
The good news, however, is that having helped many people to ‘integrate’ all of their multi-faceted identities into just the one, coherent and consistent identity, that life’s outcome can be dramatically improved along with a greater sense of ‘self’.
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