Who am I: Identity Diffusion and Role Confusion
Identity diffusion and role confusion are concepts that come from Erik Erikson’s stage theory of psychosocial development. According to his theory, in the most critical stage people figure out who they are and begin to form their identities. In order to progress to the next stage, we have to resolve the developmental conflict: identity vs confusion.
What is Identity and Role Confusion?
Adolescence is the time of transitioning from a child to an adult which comes with the need to establish your own identity partly because you aren’t yet sure of your place in society – this is called role confusion. Developing a sense of self is possible via trying out different roles, social interaction, etc. If you fail to develop a stable sense of self either because you didn’t commit to one identity or aren’t working towards forming one, you’ll experience what’s known as identity diffusion. This might result in struggling to find a sense of direction in life; constantly switching jobs, jumping from one relationship to another and feeling unfulfilled. However, going through an identity diffusion period in adolescence is normal and most people usually grow out of it.
What Makes a Sense of Self?
Have you ever heard the phrase, you’re a sum of your experiences? Your identity is based on everything that happens in your life: your beliefs, memories, values, relationships and struggles.
How To Decrease Role Confusion and Develop a Stronger Identity
1. Identify your values
Values should guide your choices in life as they can give you both confidence and a sense of fulfilment. The best way to find out what your values are is to learn how to recognise your needs by taking time to stay in the present and listening to your thoughts.
2. Set goals according to your values
One way to develop a stronger identity is to find your purpose in life. Once you’ve identified what matters to you, try to set goals according to those values.
3. Develop interests
Your interests are a huge part of who you are. Find something you enjoy doing and commit to it.
4. Become more secure in who you are
One way to do this is by learning how to set boundaries and say no. Practise being assertive on a daily basis and be intentional with your time – don’t do things that don’t serve you.
If you feel like you lack a purpose and a sense of direction in life, talking therapy could help. Contact My Family Psychologist for a confidential chat.