How Do We Form Our Personal Identity?

personal identity

"Who am I? Why am I here?"

A cliche philosophical quandary to be sure. However, it is continuing to ask questions like these which can lead you to some of the richest revelations in life.

As Socrates so famously uttered while defending himself on trial, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

In order to find true fulfillment, it is key that you gain a better understanding of who you are and how you function. It is only from knowing your personal identity that you can truly build a life of contentment for yourself.

Keep reading to find out where your personal identity comes from and how it is formed.


Two Sides to Every Coin

When it comes to your more inborn personal identity, there are two parts; your public self and your private self. In other words, the parts people see clearly, and the parts which require some investigation.

Everyone is born and shaped to have a natural bent toward a particular public and private self. However, as you will see everything is subject to change based on environment.

The Public Self

The public self consists of three main parts: personality, appearance, and style.

Your personality is what makes you unique from everyone else, and is something you must discover for yourself. There are countless personality quizzes out there designed to do just that. This is something about yourself which doesn't change easily, but it can.

Your appearance is simply that, how you physically appear. Everyone wants to appear physically attractive within the confines of their culture, and will often change and adjust their appearance to try and do so.

Lastly, your style is how you move, speak and present your body to the world around you. This is often involuntary, but you can train yourself to walk, talk and move in various ways.

The Private Self

The aspects which make up the private self are a bit more self-explanatory.

They include your thoughts, feelings, and fantasies. It's common to use art to express this part of yourself, which is why it can feel so vulnerable to share art with others. You're exposing your private, hidden self to them; your thoughts, feelings, and fantasies.

Social Influence on Personal Identity

Where you are from, how you are raised, and what groups you belong to make up your personal identity almost as much as your inborn public and private selves. In fact, it is often the environment created by a combination of all these factors which shape both of these parts of yourselves.

The biggest influencers will be your immediate family, your ethnicity or nationality, and your religious affiliation. It is through these lenses you will see the rest of the world and where most of your values come from.

Knowing what defines you and shapes you can hopefully help you learn to shape yourself over time.

What Is a Positive Personal Identity?

In order to feel happy and secure within your personal identity, there are a few key factors which should be in place:

  • You feel physically attractive
  • When you perform well in a role
  • When you feel in control of your life
  • When you are liked, encouraged and respected by others
  • Living according to your values/own sense of morality.

Think about your day today. How many times did you find yourself seeking after one of these things? Were you successful or unsuccessful?

Did you read through this list and feel pretty discouraged about your current situation? Don't stop there, ask yourself why. Why do you feel unattractive? What in your life feels out of control? Where do you feel you're compromising on your values?

Sadly, you can waste a lot of time trying to fit your natural bent into a cultural box that was never meant to contain you.

Perhaps the reason why you're feeling unfulfilled in some way is that you are not functioning in the world as you ought to be. You've allowed the world to define who you are instead of discovering this for yourself.

Building a Better Life

So where do you start? How do you go about examing your life in a constructive way? It starts with admitting there is a problem area in your life. This takes courage and a great deal of vulnerability to admit yourself.

Once your able to admit there is something wrong, then you must totally commit to a journey of discovering what the issue truly is, and finding a solution. Let yourself ask the questions you've been afraid to ask.

This will require you to be brutally honest with people close to you. If there is no one you think you can trust, then you may need to see a therapist.

You may need to leave a relationship, quit a job, or exit a toxic community. In the end, however, you will come out the other side a more whole and fulfilled you.

Learn More About the Avatar® Course

No, sadly this course will not turn you into a giant, blue alien, but it can help you better discover who you are.

Its focus is primarily on exploring why you believe what you believe and can give you tools to change the beliefs which are not good for you. The course is done in three sections, and are simple and accessible to all ages and walks of life.

If you're feeling stuck in a rut and don't know who you are anymore, then this could be exactly what you need. Check out our programs and discover who you are with us.