Avoiding an Identity Crisis

Belonging and identity are convoluted issues shared by multifaceted generations. We need recognition and reward to feel part of a group. Tajfel (1979) posited that the groups with which we associate ourselves reflects how we view ourselves. In other words, the groups we form part of, give us a sense of identity.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, belonging is a deficient need – we want to belong. Maslow (1943) initially stated that individuals must satisfy lower level deficit needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. However, he later clarified that satisfaction of a needs is not an “all-or-none” phenomenon, admitting that his earlier statements may have given “the false impression that a need must be satisfied 100 percent before the next need emerges.”

His theory further stated that deficiency needs arise due to deprivation and are said to motivate people when they are unmet. So, if you do not belong you will try to accomplish it. This can lead to a loss in identity.

Can you connect with your identity? Do you know yourself?

In todays’ article, I am sharing how you remain authentic in a world where it is easy to forget who you are.

Change your mindset

Have you ever felt like a fraud? Do you feel like you are adapting your personality just to fit in? Are you advocating for a cause or involved in activities that you are just not passionate about? Many people tend to join the band wagon and many more do things because it’s the ‘in-thing’ to form part of a group.

What do you believe in? Beliefs are cognitive contents that you hold to be true usually as a result of life experiences. Our beliefs shape our lives and how we view the world. We identify with people based on common beliefs.

Are you afraid of being innovative? – to be the first one to start an initiative. Do you hold back on pursuing your passion for fear of putting yourself out there in the public eye open for scrutiny? Instead of viewing it as criticism, tell yourself you can learn from feedback.

Many people will share their ideas of what you need to do to grow – be mindful of who you let in.

Action: Adopt a growth-mindset and protect what you believe in. You are not limited to your abilities; think of ways to have a more positive outlook on things. Neuroscience shows that the brain changes and become more capable when we work hard to improve ourselves.

By digging deeper in yourself, you get to understand your insecurities, and which will in turn help gain confidence and become more self-aware. You can learn to whisper positive empowering affirmations to remind you of how you can improve. A positive mindset is a key ingredient to success.

Avoid Social Comparison:

Do you constantly find yourself in self-doubt due to comparisons? Do you feel that you are not good enough based on what you see others accomplishing? What values do you up-hold and does it change based on your environment or the people with whom interact?

We are constantly bombarded by others telling us what is socially acceptable and politically correct; whether by the media, politicians, or religious leaders. Knowing your identity is important because, if you don’t, political and social correctness will tell you how to think and how to act. You will be forced to accept to constantly change yourself to fit in as social norms are constantly changing.

Think about these statements: Am I comparing myself to others? Am I thinking of the right things?

Action: Work out what success means to you and follow your own goals. Do not be swayed by how other people define success, it is not one size fit all.


Discover Your WHY:

Have you thought of the reasons why do you do certain things? Why you gravitate towards a cause or certain people?

Identifying the WHY in whatever you do will help you assess whether you are doing it for yourself or for others. It is easy to get lost in society’s idea of a professional. Monitor the things that inspire you the most. If you could do anything in the world and get paid for it, what would that be?

For example: when I started blogging I did not want just another blog to publish empty content about my life. This would only get me followers but, would have little or no impact on the lives of others. Instead, I developed my niche to target a particular audience and define my WHY. Your why should originate from your passion which leads to your purpose.

I decided to set my niche to areas that I am passionate about – the things that I know can help others to improve their livelihood.


Think about some of the things you wish you had done differently? What are some of the things you want to accomplish but have not done?


Practice Authenticity and Differentiate Yourself:

Think about how you add to the lives of the people you interact with.

We live in a shame-based culture. People criticize your choice of career, your story (your background) and even the company you keep. Learn to differentiate yourself.  When you start pushing towards a cause, instead of copying, do something that you are passionate about so the right people will identify with you. Remember where you started and use real life examples to hone your message.

Action: In doing so consider these:

–       Everyone’s opinion of you and what you ought to do will not suit you;

–       Be careful with those who offer criticism without walking the journey before;

–       Everyone’s struggle is not the same. Even if something works for others, does mean it will suit you. Even if someone’s business failed that does not mean that you will have the same result;

–       Build a growth mindset – if you fail, keep on persevering!


Stop Giving Attention to Random Things

Do you constantly find yourself worrying about trivial things – like your current job, your business, size of your social  media following or support from your friends and family?  Instead of worrying, eliminate this kind of thinking and distant yourself from things and situations that add no value to your life. Think of how you can improve your situation and skills to grow.

Action: Find things that you genuinely care about – for example: how can will launch your project, what can you do to improve your career prospects, how can you make a positive difference in the lives of others.

When you start looking at life with an open mind and positive outlook, your life gets better and your stress level reduces.  Start practicing gratitude and be appreciative of the little things. Journal your progress and look back on how your mindset has changed over a period of time.

I hope these will help you to truly be yourself and not what society idea of what you should be.


Merlinda Francois is a career coach and business strategist. She focuses on providing advice to professionals to assist them with becoming more marketable and small businesses to grow their brand. Find more of her work @merlindafrancois.com .

Merlinda Francois | Facebook 

3 Replies to “Avoiding an Identity Crisis”

  1. This is a very interesting article. The principles posited are not new but in my opinion defining success continues to be a challenge to our generation. This change will only happen when we as humans get comfortable in our own SKIN. For those of us who has already embrace this concept, its our responsibility to be ensure our words and actions are aligned so that we can be an example for others to follow. Our alignment can not only be when we hear ‘light, camera action’.

    1. You’re so right Natasha.
      So many are doing things just for the gram or just for the likes that their words and actions are totally unmatched.
      You’ve given great advice; thank you for contributing!

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