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Windsor Counselling for Identity Issues
“Every person’s map of the world is as unique as their thumbprint. There are no two people alike. No two people who understand the same sentence the same way… So, in dealing with people, you try not to fit them to your concept of what they should be.”
~ Milton H. Erikson
What can cause an identity crisis?
Identity issues can arise when questioning who we are. Insecurity and conflicted feelings often precede or accompany a stage of transition. It can occur at any stage of life: teenage years, quarterlife, midlife, retirement, or a major life event. In a sense it is something normal and even desirable because it signifies psychological growth. On one hand we need a strong sense of self to weather the transition; on the other hand, the very crisis serves to strengthen our sense of Self. A lot depends on the person’s stage in life, their level of self-esteem, and the amount of support they can rely on. When normal questioning that precedes transition becomes a crisis or the source of something destructive in one’s life, it can be a good time to seek counselling for support.
Is there something wrong with my personality?
As human beings, trying to meet the demands of life, of being part of a civilized society, we are called – interpellated if you will – along intersecting categories of race, religious creed, age-based stages of development, social, familial, sexual, gender norms and so on. These hint towards something, like ingredients of a well-formed identity, not quite coagulated. Each ingredient seems to have ready-formed ideas, values and expectations embedded into it. In trying to adapt to these varying demands, to fit in, we find ourselves varying who we appear to be – that is Persona – and it is essential for survival. Just as we need clothes, so we are not naked, we need Persona, or several, so we do not feel exposed and defenseless all the time. We are constantly changing, adapting, and experimenting with Persona throughout our lives, much like our wardrobe! Developing this essential part of the personality can be fraught with stress and it is inherently difficult to locate the authentic Self that we might think of as ‘our calling.’
It seems we are told, or it is implied, at least in Western society, that we must develop a strong sense of who we are as a necessary part of the maturation process. One could be forgiven for thinking that the Self is simply an amalgamation or a compromise even, of all our contingent parts. But then what of that other great Western value: “Be true to yourself?” It’s no wonder identity issues seem to be at the fore of the collective conscience.
I’m Having an Identity Crisis, What Should I Do?
An identity crisis is not something you would typically see a physician for since it is not a diagnosable condition. However, as the name suggests it can be extremely unpleasant and it might be at the root of other symptoms such as anxiety, OCD, low self-esteem, struggles with addiction and even suicidal ideation.
Questioning and re-evaluating who we are is a natural part of the maturation process. But when we feel unsupported in this process, or at odds with ourselves or others, then we may unknowingly be coping with difficult thoughts and feelings in ways that hold us back.
Talking to a therapist about these thoughts and feelings or ways of coping, without any negative judgement, is a reliable way to get you back on track.
Identity, Insecurity & Instability
Many people come to therapy because they have been affected by a pervasive feeling of insecurity, either within themselves or within people they have tried to form social or intimate relationships with. An underlying insecurity in oneself is a helpful context in which to explore many interpersonal issues that people seek counselling around, such as codependency in relationships, gas-lighting, narcissistic personality traits, or tendencies of the borderline personality disorder. Viewed through this lens, many behaviours which are harming and hurtful can be understood as maladaptive compensations of the ego or persona.
Struggling through this confusing milieu alone can lead to anxiety, depression, addiction, unsatisfying and even abusive relationships. Psychotherapy can provide a helpful space in which to address issues related to or stemming from an insecurity of oneself.
Is the whole person just a sum of their parts, or is the whole something besides the parts? I believe the latter. At Windsor Counselling and Psychotherapy Services, you are invited to engage in an honest and introspective appraisal of this process, the demands made of you, and the impact this has on your sense of Self.
Talking with Patrick can help reduce or cope with distressing feelings, find ways to resolve unwanted behaviours and ultimately, find yourself in the process.
Identity Crisis & Low Self-Esteem
When those around you seem to ‘have it together’ and know what they’re about, it can be acutely distressing to be questioning “who am I?” Whether the result of trauma, concurrent disorders, a change in life circumstances, or simply a mounting sense of uncertainty, the apparent inability to rely on a cohesive sense of oneself can be truly unnerving experience. The internal conflict invoked when asking oneself “who am I?” seems to get at the core of being human and proves to be a deeply personal and ultimately vivifying experience when borne out consciously.