How do you cope when someone challenges your opinion? If you perceive that you have "failed", do you question your entire worth and purpose? When someone tells you you've done the wrong thing, do you fall apart emotionally? These are all signs and symptoms of someone who is not secure in their understanding of who they are, someone who is not confident of what they stand for and their place in this world.
Let's start with a picture of a person with a secure identity. Let's just say it's me (wink wink). She has things in her past she regrets. She has experienced a journey that has brought her much joy, but sometimes sadness and shame. She has been hurt in the past by people's judgement of her. She still feels hurt now when people disapprove or criticise her. But she has learned to grow and filter opinions according to their merit and she knows not everyone will - nor has to - like her. She has learned - through the journey of both joy and pain - that she needs to recognise and acknowledge her hurt/pain/shame and reconcile those things to herself. She can do that because she has learned from her mistakes and grown, but also because she has recognised the mistakes of others, and no longer sees the mistakes of others as somehow caused by failings of her own. She knows she's not perfect. But she knows that no one is, and that to expect perfection is to demand the impossible and to engender future heartache. She can forgive others because she recognises they too are on a journey - just like she - and she never idolises others because she knows they too are on a journey! She does not need to attack or defend in order to protect herself because nobody's opinion is of such ultimate worth to her. She spends her days curious as to the journeys of others, and wonders - sometimes privileged to be told - how they navigate their own joys and pains.
This is a picture of someone who sees themselves as whole, despite the array of flaws, mistakes or scars they have. You don't get to this place by accident. You develop security through a willingness to be vulnerable in acknowledging and sharing your pain. You develop security through improved self awareness - recognising where you have come from, the experiences that have shaped/impacted/influenced you, and ordering all these in accordance with the merit and importance you assign them. Do you know what's important to you? Have you taken time to think about your core values? How you assign merit to all of your experiences is based on your world view and the beliefs you hold about your own value and the value of humanity. A strong identity is founded in your own clarity about your world view. What is yours? I am a Christian, so see the world based upon what the Bible says. I am very clear about this, and so my foundation to "sort through" all of my experiences is clear and strong. You too need to know what your world view is, so that you can have the clarity to assign merit (or not) to your experiences as you move through life.
The ability to be clear about 1. what you think and value 2. why you think and value it, and 3. the journey you have been on that has shaped you, are they key factors in building and maintaining a strong sense of identity. With a secure sense of who you are, you can find contentment in accepting your strengths and weaknesses, and need not feel threatened that your whole identity may crumble if one aspect of it is challenged.
Here are 11 warning signs that you may have an insecure identity:
If any of that is you, please take the time to work on those things - for your own benefit! If you need help please contact me, contact @brenebrown (winking emoji!) or talk to another professional or someone you trust, or subscribe to my Youtube channel or other social media platforms for daily encouragement. You are not alone in your human struggle! Below is my latest vlog - complete with Fortnite dance move impressions and bloopers - in which I expand on the value of having a secure identity, and why I do what I do, week in, week out.
Kristy is the founder of Wellbalance. She is inspired to motivate leaders and workplaces toward proactive, effective and productive communication with their people, to achieve positive outcomes for all and resolve conflict. Kristy enjoys long walks on the beach and holding hands at sunset (just joking - actually not really!) Kristy thrives on seeing relationships reach their full potential, and celebrates when people come to understand their true value - to love their flaws, accept their perceived failings and grow beyond these. She believes that the entire human race are healthier and happier when they CONNECT - with their people, GROW - in their self awareness and ability to engage with others, and LIVE - life to their full potential.