Building a resilient identity

I had a very insightful conversation with a loved one the other day. We were talking about our concept of identity and what we build our identities around. We talked about how even things that are good in themselves  – success, beauty, knowledge, people skills – can become pitfalls if we wrap our sense of self around them.
We talked about times in our lives when some of these things had been our crutches. Once upon a time, my identity was so wrapped up around what I did. It wasn’t all bad – it drove me, and my ambition still drives me. I was so used to being the best at things I set out to do, taking first place in things, that when I had to invest in efforts that took a while to build, or when I failed, I was very fidgety. What if it fails? What if I am not where I could be? There is no first prize in life – there are many paths you could take to where you need to go, and sometimes you don’t even know where you are going for a long while.
When the thing you build your identity around gets rocked it can make you quite brittle. If you build your identity around doing things – what happens when you encounter failure or you lose a lot of money or you need to take a risk one where failure is likely?
You build your identity around what you think you know and then you enter periods of not knowing. Do you still have value then? Who are you when you don’t know? When your worldview changes?
If you build your identity around achievement, what happens when you need to take a break? What if you need time to rest and recoup? What about health, relationships, your sanity? Will you afford yourself these?
If you build your identity around being different from everyone, being unlovable, being misunderstood, what if you miss out on what you need to share with others, or people who could see you the way you’d like to be seen?
All these are ways of making the world predictable and safeguarding our hearts. But they can also prevent us from taking risks that could expand us in the best ways.
It is not as easy as turning off a switch to stop letting things we can’t control determine our identity. Most times I have learnt from failure. I don’t think it is about simply changing our minds though it helps to be more aware of what is going on, but also being in healthy community however we create it, and learning to love and accept ourselves.
My friend said they build their identity around what they can control rather than things they can’t control – such as giving the best that is within their abilities. I said that I also think one has to find a way to build an identity around their intrinsic worth. That way you are resilient to failure, which is inevitable.
Because if you don’t fail, how can you grow?
I wrote a journal to support you (and myself) in courageously sharing our gifts. Consider getting it by clicking here. I hope you will find it valuable.
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