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HOMEPLACE DYNAMICS THAT FUEL GENDER ROLES IN THE WORKPLACE

HOMEPLACE DYNAMICS THAT FUEL GENDER ROLES IN THE WORKPLACE

Picture Source: Freepik

 

“It was tea break at my first ever board meeting and as the only female present, I was told to serve the coffee. I asked them how they had been doing it before I came there and they all went silent. Apparently, the other female whose role I just took up had been the one serving. Trash!”

 

Relatable?

 

Despite many advances for women, there are still certain distinguishing features in the feminine and masculine roles in the workplace. Throughout history, men have been privileged at work, while women have been relegated to domestic duties and homemaker roles. Today, “privileged” males still feel entitled to special treatment at work, while women may feel unjustly treated as underdogs. It is not out of place that sometimes, feminine and masculine roles can work to each other’s benefit, but sometimes they can also be detrimental if the effects of the homeplace dynamics are not factored into consideration. It is common knowledge that women have long dealt with less than equal treatment and pay, glass ceilings and a host of other limitations placed on their working lives. But what is intriguing is the fact that even though it seems that women are governed by the same rules as men in the workplace, there are a set of unwritten rules that are implied and just as restrictive as in the story shared above. The workplace is not always fair for all involved, but when you know what to expect, you can be better prepared for issues that arise. This article seeks to address the role of the home-place dynamics and how it affects gender roles in the workplace.

 

Women at Work: Common Misconceptions

The notion that women are weaker than men is a mindset that has been entrenched from childhood. From the home place, men have always been raised to feel superior to the female gender. A patriarchal society has always been the norm and even though many support groups have arisen and are still rising to empower the voices of women, certain established thought processes over generations will take time to erode. These misconceptions subtly find themselves at play even in the workplace and they form hindrances to women as they look for advancement opportunities and leadership roles. Many women are having to work twice as hard just to prove that they can do their jobs excellently because some managers and bosses do not believe that women are as capable as men. It is why women are expected to be servers at events while their male counterparts expect to be served. Despite these misconceptions, women often overcome obstacles to achieve success.

 

1. Women are Weak Leaders:

“Be a man! Stop behaving like a woman”, is a common statement often made in the home. From childhood, we’ve been taught that females are emotional and we see this ideology at play even in the workplace. Leadership styles often differ between men and women, leading to the misconception that women are emotional and do not make good leaders. But is this truly accurate? Women were found to be more receptive to team efforts in the workplace than their male counterparts, according to a 2005 study by Catalyst. The study declared women as more “supportive and rewarding” in leadership roles. These women employed more compassionate and constructive behaviour in regard to their team. Furthermore, women proved to be more persuasive and scored higher than men when it came to both persuasiveness and assertiveness. According to an article published by IntechOpen, one cannot conclude that men’s leadership skills are more powerful and more important than women’s skills or vice versa, but it is clear that gender differences do exist and people should capitalize on them.  Many women like to spend meeting times talking through problems, asking for advice and resolving issues through communication. Many men on the other hand may solve problems by working through issues and solving problems on their own. Women may appear weak or indecisive as a result of the differences between their leadership styles, but this is actually a great way to build teamwork. It is best to consider the word ‘complementary’ when comparing the male vs female leadership style rather than the word ‘different’. It is also possible for leaders to break out of the stereotype and develop a series of skills that are not necessarily traditionally linked to their own gender.

 

2. Family Life Distracts Women

Women are homemakers, therefore, they cannot give their best to “other things”. Have you heard this before?  It is a common misconception about working women that they have a stronger sense of family loyalty than men. The Reuters article (in 2009) described a study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois, Chicago, concerning the family and work responsibilities of transportation employees and how many bosses believed women had a greater tendency to have conflicts between their family and work obligations, resulting in less productivity. This of course was just a perception and is not accurate. Unfortunately, because of this misconception, women are often forced to prove loyalty to their employers by working harder than their male counterparts or making sacrifices such as not spending time with family. Even sadder is the discriminatory practice that originates from the idea that mothers are dedicated to their families first and their work second. As a result, their benefits are often negatively impacted, as are their chances of receiving promotions and raises, as well as their selection for high-profile projects. These factors are more than enough to stifle a mother’s career.

 

3. Men Are Nurtured to be Confident and Assertive

Men generally feel more confident in their work environment than women and this is no surprise. Men have been groomed as the head of the home and confidence as well as leadership traits are a natural process of their upbringing. The tendency for men to attempt tasks they aren’t prepared for is more of a ‘privilege’ trait imbibed from the homeplace than an evolutionarily inherited trait. Men have been nurtured to “be a man” so showing fear “is not allowed”. In contrast, many women may feel unprepared even when they have prepared diligently. Culturally, women are not expected to assert themselves, especially in the presence of men. They are supposed to be “meek”, “submissive” and “obedient” even though these words are simply a front for the true intent of the word society seeks to use – “doormats” and “subjugated”. Unfortunately, this upbringing affects women at work because they don’t assert themselves and make their voices heard as men do. For example, many women fail to apply for jobs outside their expertise, but men are more likely to take the chance. The implication of this is that women are sometimes overlooked at work and are even likely to be offered less salary than men with the same credentials. When women seek to be heard at their workplaces, which is against societal and homeplace upbringing, she is called ambitious, callous and uncaring in her actions. Whereas her male counterpart is called daring, a goal-getter and an achiever.

 

Summary

Despite the fact that gender roles at work are less clear cut than they used to be, and women are becoming more empowered, many men still hold onto ‘privilege’, enabling them to feel more comfortable at work than their female counterparts and this is as a result of the difference in their upbringing. We need to prioritize giving our girls a voice from the home, making them understand the difference between submission and subjugation, and allowing them to assert themselves while retaining their feminity. The real work is done from the homeplace. Otherwise, women will continue to be underestimated in the workplace and it will propel them to work harder and take on more responsibilities than necessary resulting in an increased workload and work-family life imbalance.

IDENTITY CRISES FROM THE WORKPLACE [WORKPLACE DYNAMICS]

IDENTITY CRISES FROM THE WORKPLACE [WORKPLACE DYNAMICS]

Picture Source: Freepik

“We are three people: the person we think we are, the person others think we are, and the person we really are.”

-Anonymous

 

Employees’ perceptions of themselves are shaped by many factors, but in particular, what others say about them. Here’s what we know, in most cases, employee identity crisis usually leads to dissatisfaction and poor work performance. It can, therefore, be detrimental for an employee to become too enmeshed in who their peers think they are or say they should be as it can, in many ways, distort them from contributing effectively to their workplace in the way that comes most naturally to them. If there is no system in place to ensure that employees have the latitude to self-discovery, the resultant effect is a workplace culture that misrepresents, misunderstands, and underutilizes employees. When there are employee identity crises, organizations will struggle with growth, innovation, and the ability to pursue opportunities.

 

As humans, it is an innate desire to want to feel valued, respected and loved irrespective of one’s hierarchical positioning or ranking. This is not out of place. In recent dispensation, with the increasing awareness of mental health, employees want to be a part of an organizational culture that allows them to discover their identities and thrive on that discovery so that they can give expression to their fullest potential. Of course, this is beneficial to any organization. Unfortunately, a supervisor or boss lacking emotional intelligence or caring more about advancing themselves than serving others can short-circuit this discovery process which ultimately leads to employee identity crises in the workplace.

 

With the upsurge of economic downturns, job competition and high unemployment rates, more people are turning up for employment where they don’t quite fit; exchanging their happiness and full potential for a salary. It’s in situations like this that employees find themselves underperforming and unfulfilled without a well-defined identity to serve as their anchor. Whenever employees get caught up in office politics or are constantly concerned about how they appear in the eyes of others, they will find it difficult to freely contribute to the team. If employees are not constantly in touch with their identities, over time, their work becomes a monotonous duty rather than a discovery process. Instead of developing competencies and expanding in capacity, they become stuck and confused and that is because their identity has become a compendium of the expectations and definitions of others rather than theirs. This can breed a disengaged workforce and when your workforce is out of alignment, how can you effectively lead?

 

The building of workplace environments that allow employees to express their authentic identities is crucial as organizations continue to reinvent themselves. You must stay aware of the following five workplace dynamics that can lead to employee identity crises so that your organization remains highly productive with a talent pool that is maximized and kept on track:

 

1. Micromanaging

It was Steve Jobs who said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Every employee is an important part of the larger machine — your organization. Every part of the machine should be allowed to function effectively. Just imagine for a second that your car’s engine decides to function as the door, the carburettor, and the shock-absorber rather than providing oversight leadership like it currently does. Or imagine your brain wanting to be the digestive system, the excretory system, the reproductive system, and the respiratory system, all at the same time rather than providing ‘leadership’ to these systems to function in their designated capacities. Do you realize the overload and destruction that is bound to happen? That is exactly what micromanaging does. Do you really know your employees and what they represent in your company? Do you understand their natural potential or are you boxing them into a box you think they fit? Do you know them well enough to provide the best guidance and utilize them in the most strategic ways? These are hard questions employers should try to answer. It’s easy for employees to fall into an identity crisis trap when the person that influences their advancement at work continually misrepresents, misunderstands and (perhaps unknowingly) undermines their capabilities to do more than the basic job description. Allowing your employees to function with your delegated authority will give them room to explore their capabilities and possibly proffer even more creative solutions than you could imagine. Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

 

2. Disruptive Feedback

Feedback is a science and an art. Feedback has the capacity to emotionally incapacitate an otherwise emotionally healthy employee. Rather than inspire an employee to become better and function effectively as a team player, disruptive feedback can make them feel as if they don’t fit in the organization. It is possible for your feedback as a supervisor to disrupt employee performance if you have not mastered the “how” of feedback. Talented employees are seeking ways to be noticed, and want a workplace culture that allows them to express themselves freely. When feedback is improperly given, employees can lose their identity. They can spend too much time being so critical of everything they’re doing so that they can satisfy so many different people – except themselves. We advise that when employees receive feedback, they should be taught to consider the source [knowing why it was said and from what emotional state it is coming from] and filter through so that they can receive feedback constructively without taking a blow to their identities. Disruptive feedback is one of the major reasons employees’ loyalty to the organization is vulnerable.

 

3. Poor Intra-structure

Intrastructure is the basic cultural structure needed to ensure solid chemistry within an organization and seamless interaction among employees themselves and their supervisors as well in order to encourage optimum productivity. When your workplace doesn’t have cultural integrity and intrastructure, it becomes challenging to solidify employee identity. There are two common ways that poor intrastructure is manifested in an organization: 1) an artificial, inauthentic workplace culture dictated by a prescriptive operations manual, rather than the actual experiences of employees; and 2) diversity is undervalued and not viewed as a competitive edge. When intrastructure is not prioritized, it subtly implies that personal identity and its contribution to strengthening the organization’s values is not of importance. A poor intrastructural policy does not reward individual differences and does not create a workplace environment that appreciates uniqueness; rather, it forces employees to conform to the status quo and not tap into their creative energies. It is why mergers and acquisitions cannot be taken lightly. On paper, things are usually well thought out but in actual execution, executives must take the extra effort to ascertain the pulse and cohesion of the different personality types and cultures of the merging entities as it is one of the most critical success factors. With poor intrastructure, you’re underutilizing your employees and creating an unfavourable workplace environment for them and invariably, you. 

 

4. Leadership Identity Crises

A popular Latin Proverb quotes, “it is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himselfbut this is becoming common in the workplace. It is true that people are a direct reflection of their leader’s actions (or inactions). It is important for every leader, every associate, and every supervisor, to understand who they are and what their personal vision/purpose is as it will help to have a full grasp of their sphere of influence and the role they play in accomplishing the organization’s goals and objectives. When an organization lacks a strong leadership identity, it disrupts the identity of the entire organization – especially its employees. Do you have a full grasp of your leadership identity? Is your organization’s leadership identity in sync with the organization?   Perhaps it’s time for an identity rekindling.

 

5. The Tyranny of The Urgent

Employee Identity can get lost in the urgency of the immediate. It is important to infuse, as organizational culture, the need to ensure that the tyranny of the urgent never replaces what is truly important. Employees must gain mastery in identifying ‘the urgent’ from ‘the important’ and categorizing them appropriately. Urgency can derail one’s focus, and one can lose the consistency and fluidity required for one’s identity to thrive and create sustainable impact. The goal is to influence the advancement and growth of the business by strategic focus and guidance that comes from a place of deep understanding of who you are rather than a reactive non-methodical approach that is a direct response to the sequence of urgencies one has to deal with.

 

Summary 

In the same way that dynamics in the home can fuel a personal identity crisis, this is how the workplace contributes to employee identity crisis. Be aware of the dynamics that are adding fuel to the fire, and don’t let yourself become a replaceable commodity.  This has little chance of happening if the person you think you are, the person others think you are, and the person you really are – are all the same person. In Herbert Swope’s words,  I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody. Discover you and do you.

HOW TO USE CRISIS TO CONNECT MORE DEEPLY WITH YOUR ADOLESCENT

HOW TO USE CRISIS TO CONNECT MORE DEEPLY WITH YOUR ADOLESCENT

 “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” 

― Brene Brown 

 

You may know that the word crisis originates from the Greek word ‘krisis’ – which means ‘decisive moment’. Crises can, therefore, be seen as an opportunity to either break the communication lines between you and your teenager or strengthen them effectively depending on what decisions you make in that “decisive moment”. Having open lines of communication is what keeps crises from developing into full-blown disasters because, in every home, a crisis or two must occur, but we need to remember that every crisis with your adolescent is also an opportunity further strengthen your relationship. 

Life is full of ups and downs and as our children mature, they discover painfully that good things will not happen to them simply because they are good. It is why we encourage every parent to raise emotionally resilient teenagers. When these crises situations occur, we must have tough conversations with our children, especially adolescents, whether that’s explaining to your teenager why Grandma died or hearing from your twelve-year-old that she was body-shamed in class or having your sixteen-year-old fall apart on the night before his big speech. Whatever the case, when crises occur, the appropriate response is not to shy away from it and pretend it never happened.

Some years ago while counselling a teenage boy, he felt that his mom never really loved his late dad. When I asked why he thought so, he said, “mom never talks about dad. She wasn’t even the one who told me that he died. She doesn’t cry about him. It’s almost as if she has totally erased his existence from her life and moved on”. Of course, I knew this was not true because I had had a prior conversation with his mom where she broke down in tears saying that she could not continue her life without her husband but had to keep going becaue of their son. She wrongly assumed that ignoring that crises would be beneficial to both parties. Eventually, she spoke to her son about it. He got to see his mom very vulnerable with him and they had an intimate bonding process. Both mom and son are doing fine now and they are literally best of friends since all they’ve got is eah other.

As parents, we have been conditioned to always show our strengths while masking our vulnerabilities. If you have taken our course, Engaging The World Of Adolescence, you would have discovered that vulnerability is strength masquerading as weakness and you would have understood how to wield that strength. This article, however, is to [for the benefit of those who haven’t taken the course] show how we can as parents use crises moments to our advantage in order to strengthen the bond between ourselves and our adolescents. Avoiding crises or wishing them away is very destructive not just based on our unconventional parenting guidelines but also from research-based and parent-based feedback. Emotions always need an outlet and  if you don’t give them room to be expresses in a conducive manner, they will come back with a vengeace that cannot be quantified. Crises situations actually give you a chance to connect more deeply with your child, to teach them how to problem-solve with really big problems, and show them how to manage upsetting feelings – a skill they desperately need to learn during adolescence.

How can you help your child in tough conversations? Here are some tips I will share:

  • Listen. Don’t say much, but really pay attention. This creates a psychologically and emotionally safe haven and allows them to know that you value their thoughts. 
  • Empathize. Feel from your child’s perspective. Let him get those feelings out, no matter how upset he is. Remember how you always felt that your parents never truly got you? You don’t want your child feeling this way. 
  • Hold your own awareness that it isn’t the end of the world, even if it feels like it to your adolescent child, but don’t try to talk him out of his upset. Your child needs to learn to own his emotions while developing the adequate skills to find solutions.
  • Problem-Solve. Once your child is less emotional, help him to problem-solve. You can do this by creating scenarios and you both propose possible solutions.

But don’t wait for crises to have the tough conversations you need to have. Think of it as home-schooling, and you’re the teacher. Or therapy, and you’re the therapist. Many parents feel uncomfortable talking with their adolescents about some issues. You owe it to your child to summon up your courage and have those hard talks. And doing so may avoid some the crises. 

Why is it so important to teach your teens and tweens how to have tough conversations? Because close relationships depend on the ability to meet the needs of both people in the relationship and to negotiate the inevitable bumps when those needs conflict. Successfully navigating challenging discussions will bring your family closer, minimize the bumps in your family life, and teach your adolescent a critical life skill – one that’s considerably more important than doing his own laundry. 

Your child’s success throughout life will depend on his ability to navigate difficult interpersonal situations – on his block, at work, in intimate relationships. Adolescents learn how to work things out with other people by doing it. If he learns from you that difficult discussions are to be avoided, he’s more likely to get divorced someday, or be fired. If, on the other hand, he learns from you that people who love each other can disagree but work things out so that both people win, he’s likely to put that skill to use with his peers, in his intimate relationships, and in the rest of his life. 

 

 

Happy Children’s Day fro us all at TSAGE and TBOG Consult

 

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THE SOCIAL CONTEXTS FOR IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT; The Seven Places Where Identities Are Forged

THE SOCIAL CONTEXTS FOR IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT; The Seven Places Where Identities Are Forged

Picture Source: Unsplash

 

Every time I try to get close Trevor, he just gives me mono syllabic answers as if telling me to mind my business. But when he is with his friends, he never stops talking. It hurts! It’s almost as if he’s one person out there and a totally different person at home”

 

Almost every parent can relate to that statement above. Your child who used to talk with you about anything and everything before becoming an adolescent is suddenly keeping his distance and seems to have multiple identities depending on the social context he finds himself in. This in itself is not a problem (you can check out our course to know why they act the way they do) but it is crucial to find the balance because in extreme cases, you can as well call it a red flag. However, based on Erik Erikson’s theory, adolescence is when identity formation occurs and it is at this point that they have the most interaction with different social milieus. Identity development occurs within a social context. The concept of psychosocial development, according to Erikson, emphasizes the connection between biological and psychological development on one side as well as the recognition and regulation of social institutions on the other hand.  An adolescent’s identification with self (that is, his identity) is determined to a great extent by his interactions between his individuality and the society so that the adolescent has the opportunity to see and be seen by the social milieu that counts. At the end of this phase, people will either come out with a distorted identity, especially if like Trevor, they are allowed to continue with multiple identities or they could come out with a consolidated identity if helped through adolescence. Who are today is a direct result of what our adolescence was and that’s what this article is all about. Although little research has been conducted on how different kinds of social contexts regulate this identity formation, we have carved out seven social contexts that play a direct role in identity formation. We call them the “Places”.

The seven places for identity formation

There are seven “Places” that every human will interact with at some point in time in their lives before or during adolescence. Identity is consolidated when “who you are” in all seven of these Places complement, rather than antagonize, one another. Having a thorough understanding of who you are in each of the Places will definitely help identity consolidation and give a solid sense of self-awareness.

 

1. The Home Place: 

The home-place forms the foundational block upon which all the other social institutions will build on. An ideal home comes from a loving family living together to raise their children. In our day to day interactions backed up with creative research, we discovered that people want to

  • Have healthy, harmonious and prosperous families;
  • Experience undying love with their spouses;
  • Raise children in a loving, safe and secure atmosphere; among others,

But quite a number, have residual experiences from childhood that have tainted the lens through which life is viewed and it ultimately distorts their sense of identity. Check out your areas of struggle and conduct an honest evaluation, chances are that some of those struggles have their roots at the home (during childhood). Even our interactions at work and our roles at work are usually first defined at home.

 

2. The Work Place:

The workplace is any place where work is done; basically a place of employment. It is another major place where we take on our identity and by which our identity is defined. When we are asked, “who are you?” our default answer oftentimes is usually about the work we do, and who we are at work. That’s how powerful workplace identity is! When we function in a workplace environment that allows us to

  • Be part of a motivated, growing, and optimizing team
  • Build healthy relationships among teammates
  • Enjoy work-life balance
  • Experience personal fulfilment in every dimension of wellness
  • Translate personal wellness to corporate wellness,

it helps our identity soar. In the workplace, emotional wellness strikes as the number one factor in being a productive workforce or not. A solid identity helps form a foundation for emotional wellness.

 

3. The Learning Place:

The Learning Place is a learning environment that builds capabilities and competencies for wellness, wholeness and winning and it provides students with access to learning resources and spaces for teaching, learning, collaborating and networking. We spend a lot of time in school.  and it’s clear that most of our identity is shaped by the environment that we are in. Schools do play an important role in adolescents’ identity development. Studies on how schools and teachers unintentionally impact adolescents’ identity showed that, at school, messages may unintentionally be communicated to adolescents concerning who they should or can be through differentiation and selection, teaching strategies, teacher expectations, and peer norms.

 

4. The  Fun and Dating Place:

The fun and dating place is an invitation to deeper, meaningful relationships and life. This is the place where we open our hearts to love and keep it open irrespective of the external circumstances. There is a relationship between identity and intimacy. The quality of our relationships can make or break a person’s identity. Someone who started out with a healthy sense of self can lose it all just by being in a relationship with a narcissist and vice versa.  We understand that heartbreaks and disappointments can alter the very foundation of our core but thank goodness that our identity isn’t built from just one source. Also, sometimes just being in a relationship can lead to a reduction in negative traits. Identity can flourish when the fun and dating place is characterized by:

  • Living wholesome single lives
  • Building lasting friendships and relationships
  • Finding and giving true love
  • Nurturing love
  • Sealing and consummating love in the most endearing and enduring manner

 

5. The Market Place:

Understanding the competitive nature of the marketplace, the negative pressure that could emanate from the market place and the crushing disappointments that could ensue if things go out of hand, it is no surprise that this is another place where identity is forged or dissolved. The marketplace is the actual arena where trade and sales take place. It is quite different from the workplace in that the workplace deals with your internal relations with colleagues and employees while the marketplace is where external relations occur. This is where you deal with your clients, investors, etc. Some people are wicked towards their staff but helpful towards potential clients – that is an identity clash. It’s a fake and it’s only a question of time before who you truly are is expressed. How do you stay sane with all the pressure from the marketplace? In the midst of such stringent competition, how do you break even without compromising who you are? How do you win without losing your identity?

 

6. The Public place:

Law Insider easily describes the public place as any place that the public has access to, including but not limited to planes, trains, taxis, buses, shops, airports, railway stations, etc. Simply put, the public place is a community. It is incredible the power our communities wield in terms of identity shaping. Being a part of a healthy, peaceful, stable and prosperous community can do a lot of good to one’s identity. Have you ever felt prejudice towards someone you only recently met simply because of a stereotype you’ve been indoctrinated into? Why do you think stereotypes are powerful? It is because we believe that people take their identities from their cultural upbringings and their communities. And you’re not wrong. Except you deliberately choose who you want to be, chances are that you will easily be defined by your community.

 

7. The Soul Place:

Corporate irresponsibility and the absence of human connection and compassion is a direct fallout of spiritual unwellness which is reflective of the soul place.  The soul place is a deep dive into your soul. This is a powerful place where identity is consolidated. The soul place has little to do with religion and more to do with how connected to your core. How in tune are you with how you feel and what you feel? Do you know what you are saying about yourself? Even if you were raised to be a goal-getter if you cant see that in the soul place, you will not become a goal-getter. The truest version of YOU is made in the soul place. The soul place allows you experience wholeness in the spiritual dimension, beyond the body and soul. It gives you an assurance of peace in the innermost being and guarantees you of the future and the hereafter.

 

Summary:

Who we are in each of the Places can beam the light on how well we are in tune with our core. Sometimes, we behave differently when we are in a particular social context and that is not a problem if your anchor (who you are) is well defined. It is the definition of who you are that will help your behaviour in each of those Places. Identity consolidation occurs when who you are in each of those places complements your other selves. It is safe to say that our identity is a proposition. It’s a summation of who everyone around us has said we are right from the time we were born.  Sometimes we can forget this and feel trapped, struggling to meet those expectations. But understanding that we are much larger than who we are told we are, frees us from those mental limitations and makes seemingly impossible new life paths possible.

 

 

 

 

5  STEPS TO BUILDING A HEALTHY PERSONAL IDENTITY

5 STEPS TO BUILDING A HEALTHY PERSONAL IDENTITY

Picture Source: Freepik

 

One of the many struggles I experienced while growing up was trying to determine my sense of identity. I had poor self-esteem and I always looked out for external validation. I was a people-pleaser and I never found any sense of purpose.  I remember looking at my mates back then when they would emphatically define what future they saw for themselves but I could not see anything about mine. I was boxed into different things by different people because they did not get to meet the real me. I found out that when I was with introverts, I behaved like one and when I was with the extroverts, I became one. I did things expected of me simply because they were expected. It was difficult for anyone to know me because I did not even know myself. The danger of living life this way is that you become unfulfilled with no sense of purpose or direction. That’s a terrible way to live life, don’t you agree?

 

So, What is Personal Identity?

Personal identity is your understanding of who you are and that uniqueness that makes you stand out from others. According to David Buss, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, the personal identity is comprised of a public self and a private self, each with its own components. There are three important characteristics  that make up the public self:

 

 1. Appearance: An important aspect of your identity is your awareness of your appearance. This is common practice across various cultures in the world. All cultures strive to enhance their appearances and enhance personal beauty, according to their own definitions. According to many philosophers, a sense of aesthetics is a necessity for living a good life.

 2. Style: Everyone has a unique way of speaking, laughing or walking. The way they talk, their body language, their facial expression – it basically just screams, “this is ‘them’. It has nothing to do with being fashionable or not. It’s basically your uniqueness oozing out of you.

3. Personality: According to the American Psychological Association, personality is the individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. They are enduring and they don’t easily change.

 

The private self, on the other hand, consists of characteristics that are difficult for others to see and observe. Things like thoughts, feelings, daydreams and fantasies.

 

How Can You Build Your Sense of Identity?

1. Recognize your unique talents and use them to add value to others. When you learn to use your unique abilities to help others in need, you will always cultivate a strong sense of self-esteem. Recognizing your unique talents can begin as early as childhood.

 2. Communicate your value through personal achievement, not just affirmation. People tend to believe that a healthy identity is built by being affirmed by others, but that’s not very accurate. It is built by doing meaningful work with what you have been given and by contributing something valuable to the world.

3. Connect to a larger cause or name, and play an active role in moving it forward. It is important to plug yourself into something bigger than yourself. I believe in raising wholesome adults right from childhood. Connecting myself to that cause has sharpened a huge part of my identity

4. Become emotionally secure enough to stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison can be healthy but oftentimes it is a thief of joy. When you find yourself constantly checking out your life against others and you seem to be picking on everything that’s not working out for you, watch it.

5. Latch your identity to something that cannot be taken away from you. Your sense of identity will invariably be a roller coaster unless you connect it to something (faith, cause, family, etc.) that can’t be stolen from you by others.

 

Conclusion

Do not ever leave yourself at the mercy of social media posts or validation. Set your anchor on immutable things. Before taking that step, remember to ask yourself this question, “Why Do I Want To?”.