Hasn’t it happened to you, that you prepare for something with a hundred percent effort and someone just shatters it?. We come across such situations daily, one of the experiences could be like when you are on the stage, performing the best piece you ever prepared, “your performance is terrible” someone shouts from the audience, that person starts to mock you, and criticizes your work openly. Many people start laughing, and the moment is ruined for you. Someone disregards the performance you put all your heart in, you worked tirelessly for. Someone makes fun of you while you are still on the stage. Your performance, your day is ruined. Your hands are sweaty, you are feeling dizzy and absolutely clueless as to how to react. You are unable to understand what just happened? And what to do next? How to react? The importance of Self Identity is the answer!
Two types of Identities: Social Identity and Self-Identity
Two things can happen:
One, you would accept the negative remark and believe that it is true. You will start to believe that your performance was terrible, you are not a good artist, you are incapable and unskilled. You’ll question your hard work and dedication. You will conclude that you will never perform in front of people again.
Or you will dismiss it as criticism and not let it affect you. You will let go of that painful moment and will tell yourself to never question your art just because one person failed to appreciate it. You will overcome that one remark quickly so it does not impact you and you will continue to perform.
What is Social Identity ?
Negative remarks are difficult to deal with. When you start to believe in a negative remark on you, you act according to your social identity. You must now be wondering what is Social Identity?
Our friends, family, or teachers define us differently. If you ask your friend, mother or teacher to describe you, there will be some similarities and dissimilarities in their answers. This is because everyone’s perspective of you is different. When we start to believe someone else’s perspective of us, it is known as Social Identity. You trust someone else’s idea of you.
We often believe in negative remarks because we lack self-identity. and feel that others, even strangers, know us better. We believe in their judgment more than ours.
On the other hand, when you do not let any negative comment affect you and believe in your performance, here you act according to your Self Identity.
What are Self and Identity ? Understanding Self-Identity
Self is a sum of interrelated and interdependent parts such as experiences, childhood upbringing, thoughts, profession, likes-dislikes, biology, feelings, and so on.
An honest opinion and correct understanding of oneself can be understood as our identity. If someone asks you to describe yourself, what will you write? What you think or what people think? We refer to ourselves as ‘I’ or ‘me’ or our names. When we describe ‘I’ in our own words and the way we see ourselves, it is known as self-identity. When you believe in your idea of yourself it is known as self-identity. If you believe in your version of yourself then you will not let any negative remark affect your self-identity. The benefit of understanding the importance of Self-Identity is that we get to explore and understand ourselves.
Why is Self-Identity Important ?
It answers the why of self. Over and underestimation, positive, negative, good, bad are all attributes that get attached to our narrative of self. Our take on our identity builds our personality (individuality). Incorrect perception of self leads to delusional identity, that is, we think of ourselves as what we are not. Every person is different and unique. It creates standards for us to achieve. Going by social identity, you work according to societal expectations. But when you understand your self-identity, you understand how it benefits you.
Benefits of Self Identity
Importance of Self Identity should be kept in mind because if you do not know yourself then you cannot answer who you are?
- If you know and believe in your ideas about yourself then you gain confidence, there are several ways to gain confidence.
- You learn to balance emotions like in the earlier situation you will not feel angry or sad when someone passes a negative comment.
- When you realize the importance of self-identity you are able to control your actions. Like while driving when the car is in your control and not someone else’s. Being in control of your actions means that you are the sole decision-maker and no one else is making your decisions, that is, no one else has control over your car.
When you feel confident, you become emotionally balanced and learn the techniques for emotional management, and know how to act then you realize who you are. You understand your true self and you feel an internal satisfaction. You do not have to ask anyone else to describe you.
What happens when you rely on social identity ?
If people or society tells you that you are not skilled or capable, you will believe in that. If they tell you that you are perfect and flawless, you will believe that too!
When our opinion of self gets influenced by others then this may happen:
- Negative opinion leads to the underestimation of one’s capabilities like insecurities, doubts, uncertainty, and a lack of confidence in oneself. These could be the reasons for inefficiency which will again hit the spiral.
- On the other hand, overestimation by others gives an exaggerated sense of self-value which dilutes the scope of understanding the need for any improvement.
- You will always try to gain acceptance from others, also known as validation, from others. You might even take certain decisions in your life just to please people around you.
Life is full of choices, when someone else chooses for us, we fail to recognize our life as ours. Imagine a life where a kid went to a certain class because of family pressure and not because s/he wanted to, as an adolescent subject that you chose during high school, the choice of college, the person you should marry, when should you get married, run after government job even if you want to start a business, to have kids, to have a son, and so on and on. You make all such decisions due to ‘Societal Pressure’. When you live life through Social Identity you constantly use the phrase “I had to” instead of “I wanted to”. Lack of self-identity may lead to issues like confusion about what you want or need. Such identity issues even require psychological aid.
How to choose self-identity over social identity?
We cannot remove people or their opinions from our lives, but we can definitely control their impact on us. To keep a check on your choice of identity, you can look out for:
- You build your self-identity first which acts as the foundation on which you build your social identity. Your Self-identity is the core and builds social identity.
- Try to understand your experiences through self-identity. What that experience meant to you and taught you. Do not let anyone else tell you how to feel after an experience.
Experiences act as learning stones. They shape our identity. Growing up we did not know that we act according to two identities: self-identity and social identity. Without even realizing we mostly acted as per social identity due to a strong and persistent presence of people in your life.
So many people with so many opinions and judgments that it became difficult for us to identify the self. But now we know the importance of Self-identity and how to believe in our self-identity. At this point forward we can make an aware and conscious decision to ensure that our self-identity influences and drives our social identity and not the other way round.