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How to Deal With Identity Crisis? (and What Is It All About)

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Krishna has been a writer with an enthusiasm about life and psychology. She loves improving herself through reading and constant learning.


What is Identity Crisis?

An identity crisis is a period of confusion and uncertainty in an individual's life about their identity and expected roles in society. It is first coined by the German psychologist Erik Erikson. The identity crisis is a stage of psychosocial development in which there is an identity cohesion vs role confusion. This crisis leaves individuals struggling to "find themselves".

Perhaps for the first time in their lives, mostly the adolescents experience confusion with their roles in society including their career, values and maybe even their gender roles.


Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Stages

Stage 1

Trust vs. Mistrust

Stage 2

Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Stage 3

Initiative vs. Guilt

Stage 4

Industry vs. Inferiority

Stage 5

Identity vs. Confusion

Stage 6

Intimacy vs. Isolation

Stage 7

Generativity vs. Stagnation

Stage 8

Integrity vs. Despair

Erikson believed that our personality develops in a series of stages. Each stage represents a personal conflict thus creating a turning point in an individual's personality. Identity crisis occurs at the fifth stage which usually occurs during adolescent years. However, this crisis can also be experienced at any time in the adult years.

How to Know if You're Struggling with Identity Crisis?

Are you plagued by the thought of questioning yourself "Who am I?". Do you ever find yourself doing what others tell you that you 'should' do because you don't have a clear picture of what you like and don't like? If so, you are probably struggling with an identity crisis.

This crisis usually occurs during puberty years, however, an individual can experience this at any point in their adult years.

Having an identity crisis isn't a diagnosable condition, however, there are some signs that you may be experiencing an identity crisis:

  • You are questioning who you are - it may be with regard to your values, beliefs, choice in career, gender, and even with your relationships.
  • You are seeking more meaning, purpose, or passion in your life.
  • You may feel that you have not done everything that you should have done in life because you feel restricted by your circumstances. You feel that you are 'stuck in life'.
  • You may feel anger and depression for losing confidence because you wish to redefine who you are and what are your goals in life.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self, so therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity.” 

— Kahlil Gibran

Why Experiencing An Identity Crisis Can Be A Good Thing?

Sure, experiencing confusion with your identity is a troubling matter. Seeking answers to a lot of questions is not fun either. However, experiencing an identity crisis may be considered vital for human growth.

You are starting to become more aware of your likes, dislikes, values, and beliefs. You are becoming a new YOU. Confronting your identity urges you to get out of the box and question the way of living you are costumed to live with.

In a world full of stereotypes, it is easy to put yourself in a box dictated for you by society. Confronting your identity allows you to get closer with yourself on a personal level.

Our identities aren't fixed. We continue to change with time and age. The identity that you have created in the past, the persona in the present, and your future self that you will create in the future will still be YOU.

There are times when we usually associate our identities with the outer aspects of our life. Some people usually associate themselves as a mother or a doctor, yet when their relationships or career fail, their sense of identity has been gone.

These qualities are not what only makes sense of your identity, but rather they are a vehicle, a phase in your life's narrative. You are not enclosed to one single identity. You can be anyone. You are constantly changing together with life's circumstances.

How to Deal with Identity Crisis?

1. Visualize your best possible future self

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Set aside 20 minutes for the visualization. This exercise forces you to examine your end-goal in life and whether you are in route in becoming the best possible version of yourself.

Focus on the specific aspects of your life. How do you want others to remember you? What are you doing that makes you happy? What are the goals that you envision to have done before your death? Who are the people you are with?

Write it down. Write specifically and as descriptive as you can. Now, think of ways to make that vision a reality. Recall your vision every time you are stuck in life or you feel lost, remember it to center your life.


2. Be open to change

Reassess your life. Every time you encounter a loss such as a job loss, a loss of a loved one, any other failure or change in life - use it as an opportunity to reevaluate your life. Chances are your goals and dreams in life may be different now from five or ten years ago. There are some situations in our lives that may serve as a wake-up a call to do things differently or to put off a certain long-term goal.

Ask yourself honestly now if your goals and values are the same from before. If they are not, learn to accept that your values and goals may change and you must learn how to incorporate them into your life.

Change isn't always a bad thing. As you imagine your future self and compare it with your past self, remember that it is still YOU. Accept that changes or rather that experience will make you wiser.

Explore your options. Seek all your opportunities. Learn new habits that will make you a better person. Doing things differently and learning things differently still make you the person you are today.

3. Do your passion

Do something that you are really passionate about. If you are not passionate about your work, it is okay. Do your passion outside of work. There is no reason why you must hold off on doing something that makes you happy (as long as it is legal and justifiable). Start doing what you love.

If you don't have something you're passionate about, find something! Remember your values and the things that you consider that are dear to you. Maybe, your values involved helping people, then maybe you can start charity works and make it your passion.

Find ways to grow personally. Whether you find satisfaction in improving your health, spirituality, education, etc. It is never too late to learn and grow. Strive to achieve and do what you love to do.


4. Ask for support

Reach out to your family and friends. Share your sentiments and worries in life with them. Every one of us may experience a conflict in life and getting support from other people especially those who have already experienced it will give you pieces of advice that you may never thought you needed.

Remember to shower them with love and offer support to them when they are the ones experiencing a conflict.



Look at the brighter side of things. You may not have your answers now but remember that we are still works in progress. Enjoy the progress of self-discovery. We all have that inner self waiting to be discovered so cheer up! You are in the process of developing and becoming wiser about life.

© 2019 Krishna

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