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Maintaining Your Personal Identity in Changing Times

maintain your personal identity

The only constant in life is change. Sounds like an oxymoron but it really is true. Here’s how it works: A trend starts, picks up momentum and blows right past the point of balance. What happens next?

It turns around and does the same thing in the opposite direction. Like a pendulum swinging from side to side, life is always in a state of motion and changes direction frequently. So, how do we maintain our personal identity and avoid an identity crisis if everything is always changing?

Can we achieve stability in motion?

True stability is not the absence of change!  Rather, stability is the ability to maintain balance in a changing world. As individuals, our challenge is to develop a strong, inner sense of balance so that our sense of personal identity is not easily confused by changing external influences.

When you feel balanced internally, your sense of personal identity is not threatened just because circumstances have changed. This means that you are both adaptable and stable at the same time.

Developing your inner personal identity gyroscope

Inner stability requires a degree of internal fortitude. We can begin to develop this fortitude by recognizing and appreciating our own unique set of resources, strengths, values, and abilities. To actively maintain our personal identity during times of change we need to spend some time figuring out who we are as a person and learn to connect with that person on a core level.

Sadly, most of us have lost touch with our creative self. We have allowed the roles we play to define who we are as a person when it should be the other way around. From this perspective the winds of change can easily throw us off balance and confuse our deeper sense of personal identity.

4 Powerful outside influences

1) Jobs and friends. If you get your personal identity from what you do, then the loss of a job can trigger a full-blown identity crisis. If your personal identity is based on who you know, the loss of a friend might cause you to question who you really are.

2) Advertisers. We would all like to think that we make up our own minds about most things.  In reality we are constantly being conditioned by our environment to link certain things with pain or pleasure.  Advertisers study human behavior in an effort to link their products to our emotions.  Their advertising campaigns are designed to create subconscious, emotional associations designed to influence the choices we make.

3) Associates. The attitude of our close associates also has a powerful influence on our personal identity paradigms.  Their opinions can actually precondition us to view things the way that they do.  We may value someone else’s opinion so much, that we subconsciously adopt their viewpoint without any personal experience.

4) Crowds. Groups can also shape our preferences and by extension, our personal identity.  In such cases, acceptance often hinges on our ability to conform to group opinion. Wanting to accepted can move us to alter our behavior and preferences. Whether the changes we make are beneficial or otherwise will depend on the sort of crowd we associate with.

Internal verses external

Your life and its many pursuits should be an expression of your most cherished dreams and core values.  Not the ones dictated to you by advertisers, friends, or group opinions.

Most people choose a life course and personal identity that is based on external criteria.  They end up following a path that leads them away from an honest expression of their true self. Consequently, with each step, they actually distance themselves from the life they truly long for.

Know yourself

Circumstances and friends have a way of changing.  Sometimes they support our dreams and passions while at other times they provide a challenge.  The ability to keep your dreams alive in the face of challenging circumstances is one of the greatest attributes of a successful person.

To accomplish this requires that you actually know who you really are and what you really want. Once you are in touch with your true self, the changes around you become much less influential. Instead of your personal identity being anchored to external forces, it remains safe and secure no matter which way the winds of change decide to blow.

How’s your inner sense of balance holding up?
Do your sense of personal identity feel stable in all situations?
The lines are open!

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If you’re ready to discover your core values and passions, and make a deeper connection with your true self, then you’re ready to Find Your TRUE SELF.

23 Comments

  1. Carra December 14, 2010 Reply

    Absolutely Agree!
    Balance is one of the main premises in life to achieve success. Emotional stability, Self confidence, keeping track on your goals are all consequences of inner balance. To the subject of your reality, some of us get theirs from the outside, some from inside. Let me ask you a question: Would you look at others to determine who you are, or is it a personal experience? To be really successful, you need to take your resources from inside, from knowing who you are, and knowing that if you do your best, you are truly worthy of respect!

  2. Dandy December 14, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    There have definitely been times in my life where I ask myself, “where did I go?” I’ve noticed this happens when I allow myself to fall off my list of priories. I have to take time for myself if I don’t want to find myself lost. I think this happens a lot to women in particular. There’s the whole guilt thing of, “am I important enough to be on my own list of important things?” Sometimes it is hard to fight against who others want us to be & who we really are. Again this really affects women. But we must accept ourselves & all the unique qualities we possess to get to the roots of who we are. Thanks for this thought provoking post Jonathan!

    Dandy

    • Jonathan December 14, 2010 Reply

      Hi Dandy, thanks for sharing that perspective. As a guy I find it interesting to hear those thoughts articulated and to consider how the dynamic can be different for a woman. Although, in all fairness, I think that anyone can have a similar challenge when they feel overshadowed (not sure that is the right word) in some way. Do you think that is true?

      • Dandy December 14, 2010 Reply

        Hi Johnathan,
        Yes ideed. Anyone can have feelings of being overshadowed or overlooked. It’s just like what you were saying about the external vs. internal. We all recieve messages of who we should be in order to conform. Only by being truely authentic can we be happy & of course by surrounding ourselves with loving, positive people who encourage that! Wow, thanks for making me think today Johnathan:) lol.

  3. Rocket Bunny December 14, 2010 Reply

    In some situations I can see women getting in their husbands shadow.They either allow it or trust to much. Keep your individuality and independence separate from your personal life.

    • Jonathan December 14, 2010 Reply

      Hi Bunny, with a strong sense of true self I thing it is possible to maintain our balance and identity regardless of circumstances. Granted, it may be a bit more challenging when someone else appears to be taking the lead or getting the lions share of attention, but that doesn’t need to influence our relationship with self.

      I do find it very interesting that you and Dandy touched on the same point. I would love to invite other women comment on this aspect.

  4. Stuart December 15, 2010 Reply

    It’s like change is the river of life; constantly flowing, constantly moving, always refreshing itself, etc. If we want to keep up with life, we need to travel down the current of the river whilst maintaining our own control, keeping our own boat in check. Thanks Jonathan.

    • Jonathan December 25, 2010 Reply

      Nice metaphor Stuart, embracing change better allows us to influence how changes are expressed in our own lives. Resisting it is just tiring, like swimming upstream all the time.

  5. Amanda December 16, 2010 Reply

    Hi Johnathan,

    Commenting as a woman, and as a person who works with both men and women in a coaching capacity, I think that both genders are just as likely to be affected by external influences/pressures. Perhaps men are sometimes just less likely to confide the fact that they are having difficulty maintaining inner balance, or keeping a strong sense of identity.

    Overall, love the post. You covered some great areas- the need for balance in an ever-changing world, and the importance of finding that balance within rather than allowing ourselves to be influenced too much by what is going on around us.

    • Jonathan December 25, 2010 Reply

      Hi Amanda, those are some insightful observations. I think what you said about men being less likely to expose there inner struggle is probably true in many areas. Thanks for sharing that.

  6. Brandon Winters December 16, 2010 Reply

    I really resonate with your point that those who know themselves and what they want, are less affected by external forces.

    You become more of an influence on external forces when you can channel your energy and use it to produce something brilliant in times of change when everyone else seems to be freaking out.

    For me, balance is found in my emotional independence from my surroundings. I easily become aware of when I’m limiting my true self, and when I feel others are limiting me as well.

    Very valuable insight, keep rockin Jonathan!

    Brandon

    • Jonathan December 25, 2010 Reply

      Hey Brandon, keeping the balance between emotional independence, and still being able to fully experience everything and everyone around us is tricky. But finding that balance really raises the quality of our life experience.

  7. Jim December 16, 2010 Reply

    Great post! Knowing ones self is so important in this ‘game called life’. I think everyone has their own definition of ‘balance'; what feels balanced to one person, most likely instead considered balanced to the next.

    • Jonathan December 25, 2010 Reply

      Nice point about individual balance Jim. That’s why it’s up to us to find that balance, because no one else can do it for us. We can benefit from the insight of others, but we need to make our own application.

  8. Steve December 21, 2010 Reply

    Great post, Jonathan. After reading this post, I am more determined than ever to read your book about true self, because the post raises the question: “Who am I, apart from all these roles and external forces?”

    • Jonathan December 25, 2010 Reply

      Hi Steve, that is such an important question to answer. Sadly, it’s one that most people don’t even acknowledge exists. They probably feel it on some level, but they don’t know how to explore it.

  9. Marty March 19, 2011 Reply

    This is one of my favorite subjects. There are just so many influences around us. I try to keep my sense of integrity. I check myself when feeling I’m being influenced by someone else. Is that influence right for me and compatible with my identity? Great article. Thanks

  10. kendrick armstead September 12, 2012 Reply

    I totally agree with everything that you said.if you do not go within you will go without.

  11. Jamie Flexman October 9, 2012 Reply

    Change can be both good and bad but I think it is imperative that we notice change while it is happening. Life goes on whether we realise it or not so by always being in the present we can pay attention to how we are changing on the inside, and how the world is changing around us.

  12. Sandra October 11, 2012 Reply

    I appreciate the essential message in this article: “As individuals, our challenge is to develop a strong, inner sense of balance that is not easily disrupted by changing external influences.” My inner sense of balance could be much stronger! Meditation is one means that gives me greater stability and clarity.

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