Your self-identity is how you view yourself as an individual person. It is the basic answer to the question, “Who am I?”
However, how you view yourself isn’t always an accurate depiction of who you really are or what you can become in the future.
Self-identity is a combination between your actual experiences with the world around you, but also how you interpret those experiences and how you fit them into the narrative of “This is me!” and “This isn’t me!”
Two different people can have the same exact experience, but the first person takes that experience and says, “Yes, this says a lot about who I really am as a person,” while the second person says, “No, this isn’t who I really am.” – or “I can be better than this.”
How we respond to our everyday experiences can often make all the difference in how we identify ourselves. And once we begin to create our “self-identity” it can often become self-fulfilling
For instance, we develop an initial belief about who we are based on one small experience, and then that belief influences us to continue to act the same way the next time we are in that situation.
We have an unhealthy tendency to put a lot of weight on our first experiences. And we tend to over-generalize how much they really say about us.
The problem is we take that first experience and we keep repeating the same pattern. And the more we repeat it, the stronger that becomes a part of our self-identity.
Our self-identity can sometimes be difficult to become aware of. Although it influences almost every aspect of our lives, we often hold unconscious beliefs about ourselves that we never explicitly talk about.
It’s healthy to talk about how we view ourselves every now and then. Here is a quick exercise to help discover your self-identity:
- When it comes to work, I’m the type of person who ________.
- When it comes to health, I’m the type of person who ________.
- When it comes to relationships, I’m the type of person who ________.
- When it comes to goals, I’m the type of person who ________.
- When it comes to religion, I’m the type of person who ________.
- When it comes to money, I’m the type of person who ________.
Pay attention to the answers that immediately come to your mind when you do these questions. Also pay attention to how you tend to describe yourself to others on a daily basis, as well as your self-talk (“I am…”).
Every time you think or speak about yourself you are reinforcing your self-identity in some way. The more aware you are of yourself when you do this, the better able you are to create a healthy and positive self-identity.
Discover more tools to daily growth in the digital guide The Science of Self Improvement