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Re-establishing a Sense of Identity

Denise has struggled with mental illness most of her life. She also has family members with mental illness. She speaks from experience.

Basing our identity on what we do is unwise. Should something happen with our employment or career, we are lost.

Basing our identity on what we do is unwise. Should something happen with our employment or career, we are lost.

What is Our Identity?

Just saying the word "identity" conjures up visions of thieves and hackers trying to take away our "most valuable possession" as noted by the popular Disney movie, The Incredibles. In financial terms, our identity provides us with the power to access our financial resources. We have usernames and passwords for programs that contain our vital information. We have account numbers and membership numbers for each organization of which we are a part and should these be lost or stolen, we are in a world of hurt!

In the same way, disaster, sudden loss, and trauma steal our identity. They leave us feeling vulnerable, lacking a sense of purpose and frame of reference from which to make decisions and determine our own destiny.

When this happens, our emotional health is undermined, and we no longer have the ability to use the personal resources we have within us. Even positive transitions, such as marriage, childbirth, changes in employment, and moving can have similar affects. Anytime our world view changes, the foundation of our identity is affected.

Loss of identity, whether having to do with our finances or life's circumstances, requires the same series of steps to re-claim it:

  1. Determine where, when, and how the breech occurred
  2. Close the account and stop using it for further transactions
  3. Open a new account in a more secure environment
  4. Use the account frequently to establish credit stability

The following paragraphs explain how we can apply this in our lives.

Basing our identity on where we fit in is dangerous because people and positions change with the circumstances of life.

Basing our identity on where we fit in is dangerous because people and positions change with the circumstances of life.

Determine When, Where, and How the Breech Occurred

In order to understand what is happening, we need to identify where the identity breech occurred. If we are fortunate, we have an agency that provides our credit report to us on a regular basis. We can check to see if the information in the report will give us some clues. Other places we can check are bills and statements from our various accounts. Activity that we did not initiate can only be found by doing a line-by-line analysis of the statement.

When our financial identity is threatened, it is readily evident by our inability to use our financial resources. When our personal identity is threatened, the signals are more subtle. They come in the form of fear and inaction. We feel unsure of ourselves, like we have lost our sense of purpose, or that we cannot go forward because we don't know which direction to take.

When this happens, we need to be just as diligent in figuring things out. A thorough search of the recent events of our lives is necessary. We can ask ourselves:

  • What is happening?
  • How am I responding to it?
  • Do I want to continue in the direction I am currently going?
  • Is there something better that I could be doing?

Sometimes, it is difficult to be honest with ourselves. The last thing we want to do when we are out of sorts is to have a heart-to-heart talk and keep records of what is happening! It is much easier to escape, crawling into a tunnel of darkness where what we do is hidden from the world. Unfortunately, when we do so, we only dig ourselves into a hole that is worse than the circumstance we are trying to avoid!

When we look at the events that are occurring, we need to check for beginnings and endings, major changes, transitions, or sudden loss. No matter what their source, any of these circumstances will bring changes in our world view and how we see ourselves in relationship to others.

The Holms and Rahe Stress scale gives the stressful events of our lives a scoring number. As we check the items we are currently dealing with, it gives a total score of the amount of stress in life. At the end of the scale, a number is indicated that shows the likelihood of our being ill in the near future due to the difficulty level of the stress.

One of the reasons that stressful events make us ill is that our world-view is compromised. We freeze in our tracks and suddenly we are washed over with a wave of ill health from all the negative feedback and reverberation we are experiencing. Fear of the unknown is one of the side-affects of an identity crisis. We do not know what will happen, how we will deal with it, or where our future lies.

Close the Account and Stop Using it For Further Transactions

Once we find the identity breech, we would do well to close the account and stop using it for further transactions. This may sound simple, but it really is not. It means that we have to use an alternative method of getting our financial needs met. If a bank account is the issue, and the institution is not willing to work with us, we would do well to find another institution. If it is a credit card, shred it and open a new account.

Decisions that are based upon our life circumstances may not be as straight forward, however, the same principal applies. Closing the account indicates acceptance of the need for change in the situation. Ceasing to use the account shows a willingness to move on to another way of doing things.

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Closing the AccountCeasing to use it for further transactions

Relationship Changes

If the person is available and willing, talk through what happened, why the changes are occurring, and how the relationship can adjust

Employment Transitions

Learn the skills necessary to be successful or find another line of work

Death of a Loved One

Find the positive things that have happened as a result of the loss

Natural Disaster

Look for opportunities to rebuild better than before the disaster occurred

Growing older

Determine a desirable legacy to leave for the next generation

We have to be careful when thinking of "closing the account," especially in our relationships. We don't want to go too far, too fast, and totally cut of all contact with a person due to something that has happened that damaged our relationship.

Just as with our finances, it is best to talk to someone at the place of business and try to reconcile or solve the problem first. In our relationships, talking about what is happening and working toward resolution enables all the past positive experiences we have had with that person to be salvaged, in spite of the current difficulty.

In the balance of life, we want to make sure that the positive outweighs the negative. Our perspective will often determine how well we are able to see the good from our past versus the negative of the present. Continuing to give the past credit where credit is due may just be the grain of rice that tips the scale.

When we base our identity on how we feel, we are always having to adjust, since our feelings change frequently depending upon what we are thinking.

When we base our identity on how we feel, we are always having to adjust, since our feelings change frequently depending upon what we are thinking.

Open a New Account in a More Secure Environment

Part of the process of moving on past an identity breech is finding a new method of getting our needs met. Whether it is a new account at a financial institution, or a new credit card with the same or different company, either way, we have to be cognizant of what it is that we are trying to accomplish. First and foremost, we want to avoid another identity breech. We want to investigate the options thoroughly to make sure we know what we are getting.

We also want to see to it that precautions are taken to protect our identity in the future, whether we purchase identity protection, or simply start being more wise in the use of our usernames and passwords. Either way, opening a new account caries with it a degree of risk and a fear of the unknown. We don't know what will happen. We are having to extend our trust in people that we perhaps have not known very long, or haven't done business with in the past.

When it comes to adopting a different mind set in our feelings of identity, we face the same types of issues. We have to look at how we define ourselves and figure out what would work better in our current situation.

The best way to identify ourselves is by who we really are. Understanding our strengths gives us a boost in our self-worth.

The best way to identify ourselves is by who we really are. Understanding our strengths gives us a boost in our self-worth.

We may be moving between the following:

  • I am what I do
  • I am where I fit in
  • I am how I feel
  • I am what I am

There is danger in basing our identity on what we do, where we fit in, and how we feel because each one of these changes with the circumstances in which we find ourselves. If we identify ourselves by what we do, and a shift in the economy or in the use of technology changes our career path, we are out to lunch!

If we identify ourselves by where we fit in, and something happens to our priceless relationships with our immediate or extended family, we no longer have a foundation on which to base ourselves. Identifying ourselves by how we feel is probably the most dangerous. Feelings are nothing more than manifestations of our thoughts and beliefs, and these change regularly!

The only sure way to keep our identity intact is to base it upon who we truly are. We are children of our Heavenly Father, and he loves us unconditionally. That is the only identity that withstands the tests of time and circumstances. No matter what happens to us in our lives, we can turn to him for assistance, knowing that he will never leave us comfortless. He is the only constant in this universe of change.

Use the Account Frequently to Establish Credit Stability

No matter what new habit we start, it takes time for it to become a part of our daily lives. Using new financial resources and practices are no exception. Perhaps we have made changes in the way we store our information, or in the way we present it when making a payment. We run the risk of losing valuable time while we develop a routine that works.

The same is true for our beliefs regarding our identity. Time is required to develop new thought patterns. If we are accustomed to identifying ourselves and basing our feelings of worth on what we do, where we fit in, or how we feel, we have some adjusting to do to recognize the automatic thoughts that accompany these mindsets.

Positive affirmations are one way to re-program our identity. The following are sample affirmations that are based on the premise "I am what I am." These are constructed based on positive attributes we all have:

  • I am lovable
  • I am important
  • I am needed
  • I am ready to learn
  • I am able
  • I am a gift
  • I am strong

As we repeat these affirmations on a regular basis, internalizing them into our thought patterns, they assist us in recognizing messages that are based on other foundations.

Basing out identity on the fact that we are children of God gives us a sure foundation, one that we can depend upon that will not change with the circumstances of life. The more we use the affirmations based upon this mindset, "I am what I am," the more likely we are to re-build our sense of identity, and with it our purpose in life, and our ability to be effective individuals.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Denise W Anderson


Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 20, 2014:

Thanks, teaches. I appreciate the compliment. It helped me to look at the situation a little differently during the last crisis I weathered. I hope that it will be of help to others as well. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Dianna Mendez on June 19, 2014:

Your approach on this subject is refreshing. Identity is so important these days, even with electronic security. When we know who we are we can live well. Blessings.

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 17, 2014:

That is a good point, Alise-Evon, that we self-sabotage when we have difficulties with our identity. I found the same issue with affirmations. They only go so far. We have to be able to see the red flags in our thought patterns in order to find what it is that is keeping us from reaching our potential. There is so much involved with our identity, and our beliefs and thought patterns change throughout our lives. Constant vigilance is necessary when we have issues in this area. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Alise- Evon on June 16, 2014:

Great hub. I could only work through my identity crisis I suffered several years ago when I was ore fully able to internalize the most important point you bring up- that my identity is not tied up in what I do, where I fit in, or how I feel, but in who I really am- a child of my Heavenly Father.

(Positive affirmations weren't always enough, though, for me. Sometimes I still had underlying self-sabotage behaviors that conflicted with the statements, so I had to [and still have to as they come up] deal with those first).

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 09, 2014:

Thanks, midget38. So often we try to separate our financial affairs from our emotional, but they are very similar and we can learn by a comparison of the two. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on June 09, 2014:

You have merged the ideas of accepting ourselves and forging a protected financial identity. A wonderful hub.

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 06, 2014:

You are right, Eliza, we cannot change other people. Accepting ourselves and others is sometimes difficult, but it is a necessary part of establishing our own identity and feeling good about ourselves. As we do so, we are in a position to comfort and help others.

Eliza Anderson on June 06, 2014:

It is so true that I am what I am. We cannot change other people. But we can change ourselves. We can give comfort to those we come in contact with, but they need to be willing to change themselves.

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 05, 2014:

That is a tough situation to be in, catgypsy. My heart goes out to you! Death is probably the most difficult identity thief we have. When a relationship is terminated due to death, we have to work through a whole new world view shift. I'm glad that you found this article helpful.

catgypsy from the South on June 04, 2014:

Denise, this is such a great article. Due to many deaths in my family in the last few years, I am dealing with this right now. This was very comforting and useful...thank you. I also loved the way you compared it to other loses of financial. It put it into a whole other perspective.

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 04, 2014:

You are right, ChitrangadaSharan. We are beyond that! We are worth much more than any of us realize! This world has many trials and difficulties that would have us believe otherwise. It takes us recognizing these for what they really are, detours and distractions, meant to pull us down and get us off track. I appreciate you reading and commenting.

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 04, 2014:

Thanks, DDE. Our thoughts often get us into trouble in life. They are the very essence of who and what we are. When we think that we are worthwhile because of what we do or where we fit in, something will happen in life when this isn't true any more. How much better to base our worth on that which does not change. I appreciate your comments.

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 04, 2014:

Yes, MsDora, that is a difficult one to deal with. We often feel that way when someone we love or something we have spent a great deal of time and effort on is taken away from us suddenly. We feel vulnerable, afraid that something more might happen, or perhaps even unworthy, that perhaps we do not deserve to have good things in our lives. These feelings must be dealt with on the elemental level, and can only be reconciled by turning to God for assistance. Turning away from him does not and never will bring us happiness. The only way to reconcile these feelings is to turn to him, and give to him all of our bitterness, anger, and frustration. Then the unconditional love shown through his atonement can wash us clean and heal of us of these injustices. That is why he is the only way. Life is not fair, and never will be. As we establish our identity through him as his children, we are given the opportunity to have new life. My heart and prayers are with you as you deal with these difficult feelings.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 04, 2014:

Wonderful and insightful hub!

I always like the positive thoughts in your hubs, which all of us do need from time to time, while putting ourselves through the trials of life.

I loved your thoughts in the pictures. How wrong to establish our identities only through our jobs or relationships. We are much beyond that.

Thanks for this engaging and thought provoking hub! Voted up!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 03, 2014:

Great hub! You covered all aspects of individuals thoughts here so interesting useful.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 03, 2014:

Sometimes what is so difficult is the feeling of unjust treatment--we did nothing wrong so why do I feel punished? Your procedure for re-establishing and also you affirmtions are very helpful. Thank you.

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 03, 2014:

Thanks, swilliams. I appreciate the encouragement! My mission is to help people choose life and deal with the difficulties that they face in a positive way. There are so many who doubt their own sense of worth. Life is much too short to go through it with our tank only half full! Thanks for being a follower! I appreciate your comments.

Denise W Anderson (author) from Bismarck, North Dakota on June 03, 2014:

Thanks, epbooks. I have found affirmations to be exceptionally helpful after a down time when I need to recharge my feelings of self-worth. I am glad that you have found them to be helpful for you as well.

swilliams on June 02, 2014:

As always you provide insightful articles which encourages your readers to establish confidence through positive affirmations . I found this article to be beautiful in strength and useful when in doubt of our purpose in this World. Voted Up! Thanks! And congrats on your 3ooth follower! I blessed to be one of them!

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on June 02, 2014:

Love this article and really appreciate the daily affirmations. I've heard only great things about doing those each day, so I am glad that you mentioned them here!

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