Understanding Myself

We are driven to form an identity, which is the collection of beliefs we hold about ourselves.

A person sat on the floor writing in a journal next to a guitar

A pre-requestique to establishing our identity is to understand ourselves in order to be aware of our beliefs and understand the attributes that make us.

To adequately do this, we are required to go through a process of self-awareness and self-reflection, which enables us to develop consciousness, becoming aware of our thoughts, attitudes and behaviour to become who we are. Developing self-acceptance is important as it enables us to feel secure in our identity and is associated with psychological well-being.

In addition to our personal identity, we are driven to understand who we are in relation to other people. When we identify with a group and adopt their identity we develop a social identity, which can range from being a citizen of a country to a member of a football club. The groups beliefs, characteristics and attitudes filter into our understanding of who we are.

Throughout life we experience a number of identity crises. These periods of internal conflict occur most prominently around the stages of our life development, during the transitional period, or in response to a change in the environment. They can also occur when we feel a discomfort between the way we perceive ourselves against how other people perceive us. These times are categorised by periods of high confusion, and we resolve these by either affirming our beliefs or adopting alternative ones.

When we successfully navigate an identity crisis, we are able to clearly understand who we are, become well-adjusted and able to confidently socialise with others.

Developing a clear identity enables us to become secure, emotionally mature and confident in who we are, all important aspects in the pursuit of self-actualising.

How does digital society affect our identity?

The digital world has increased the opportunity for people to form and express their identity online. Apps and games enable participation and engagement with groups, affording people the ability to form personal and social identities. Being instinctively curious, people are driven to seek information about how they compare to others or fit in with the wider context of the world. Online surveys and quizzes that categorise people into groups or in relation to others perform well for this reason.

Want to learn more?

Read all the details, including how this value presents itself through who we are, what we have, do, and need, in our Human Values Research Paper.