Identity Problems

Now some of you have read the title and immediately decided this doesn’t apply to you.  I’m not having an identity crisis, I know my name.  I have a job.  I don’t have multiple personalities or anything.  But just roll with me for a minute.

Have you ever had a day, week, or period of time in your life where you just felt a little stuck?  Maybe you find yourself wondering, what is my purpose in life right now?  Or maybe you find yourself defined by other things and other people but are struggling with who you want yourself to be and you feel disconnected.  Have you had a significant loss recently and you find yourself struggling with figuring out who you are now?  There are a lot of things in life that can cause us to question our identity in certain ways.  If this sounds like you, take heart that you are not alone.

Don’t Do These…

Let me start by giving you a list of “don’ts.”  Sometimes we can get trapped by allowing other people’s thoughts, opinions and expectations to define who we are.  An important part of establishing or re-establishing your own identity is making sure it is YOURS.

Don’t allow anyone else to force their own expectations on you.  If anyone comes to my house expecting it to look like a Pinterest picture of cleanliness, trust me, they will be extremely disappointed.

Don’t get trapped by your own expectations either.  Sometimes we can set such a high bar for ourselves that we are constantly living in disappointment because we aren’t meeting those expectations.  I don’t know if we get those expectations from social media or from great Aunt Martha or from Keeping up with the Kardashians, but wherever they come from, if they cause us distress of any kind they need to go.

Don’t beat yourself up for mistakes.  Maybe last year you feel like you really missed the bar and didn’t accomplish any of what you wanted to accomplish.  Maybe you let someone down that is important to you.  Maybe you made a bad career choice.  Dwelling on mistakes does nothing to change them or improve your situation.  Pick yourself up and create a plan to move forward toward positive change.

Don’t spend too much time focusing on the future.  Yes, I believe in having plans.  If you have read any of my previous blogs you know that personally I struggle with planning things out too much.  What will life be like tomorrow? In 5 years? In 20 years? Oh my goodness, now I need to start planning how I will spend retirement and I’m only 30(ish)! See how fast it can get out of control?  So the advice to both me and you is to live in the present – tomorrow has enough worries of its own.

Be Sure to Do These…

Now that you know some behaviors to avoid, let’s talk about some behaviors and attitudes that should be encouraged.  The list of “do’s” will help you develop a stronger and healthy awareness of who you are.

Do make time for yourself.  Figure out what you like, what makes you happy, and what helps you feel more relaxed and fit this into your schedule.

Do set goals for your life.  Make sure these goals are realistic and achievable (remember expectations) but still give yourself something to strive for so that you feel good about yourself when you meet them.

Do surround yourself with positive people.  I think we have all had those people in our lives that tend to leave us feeling down about ourselves more often than not.  It might be time to leave those people behind and focus more on those who lift you up, inspire you to be better, and who make an effort to be there for you.

Do make time for self-reflection.  Spend a little time honestly evaluating where you are in life and deciding what changes need to be made.  Evaluating your situation doesn’t mean dwelling on mistakes.  You can take a look at how things are going, decide things need to change and redirect without focusing on the negative.

Do make an effort to help others.  Sometimes when you feel stuck in your own life, helping someone else can give you a new perspective.  The ways to help others are pretty endless.  You can volunteer to feed the homeless, you can help a friend in need by making them dinner (I’m always up for receiving that), you can donate money to a charity, you can check for opportunities with local churches or schools, etc.

The bottom line is, you are not stuck unless you want to be.  You are capable of making choices that can change your life for the better.