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Misplacing our true identity Image by DarkWorkX at Pixabay

Approx. 3 minute read

Welcome to Part Five in the series of Practical Tools for Improving Your Mental and Emotional Well-Being.

Building on the previous article on choosing authenticity, we will now explore the strange case of Misplaced Identity . . .

Misplaced Identity

As humans, we like to define things and people. We like labels. Labels help us understand each other through common definitions. And a person’s sense of identity can be described using labels.

Examples: Father, employer, employee, son, daughter, mother, sister, nephew, coach, boss, mechanic, banker, investor, teacher, artist, athlete, etc.

Think of all the labels and roles that could be applied to you.

But there is a concern when you do this.

When you are defined by your roles, your sense of identity is woven into those roles. You identify your personal value with what those roles involve.

Example: You meet someone new. They typically ask, “What do you do? Do you have a family?”

People know you by what you do. But what you do in life changes. This is a concern when you’ve tied your sense of self to your “doing”. What happens if you lose a job, your children grow up and leave home, you get divorced, or you become ill?

You can lose your sense of self – your identity. Some retired people don’t seem to have a purpose and flounder, wondering who they are now that they no longer have their careers. Their sense of self and self-worth is gone.

This is the “strange case of misplaced identity”.

Let’s try a different perspective. Imagine that your identity is no longer defined by what you do.

Instead, your identity is based on who you are? (Hint: think back to Part Four in this series.)

If you change the definition of identity from what you do to your way of “being”, everything changes. Your self-worth is no longer dependent on your “doing”: musician, surfer, yogi, author, father, domestic engineer, unemployed, law enforcement officer, lawyer, student.

Instead, who you are is based on your authentic self, character traits, values, and principles.

Stop associating your identity with what you do. Instead, start thinking of yourself in terms of your chosen beliefs and behaviors.

You will go through many labels and roles in a lifetime. Your authentic self is always there as a solid foundation for you to rely on.

Don’t succumb to a strange case of misplaced identity. Be the authentic you, no matter what you do.

Here is an excerpt from the novel, The Shift Squad, which touches on this concept.

” . . . My identity became tied to labels. I was a father, employee, boss, and husband,” said Neil. “What do you think happened when those roles changed or were no longer part of my life?”

“You didn’t know what to do next,” replied Eddie.

“You felt lost,” suggested Anna.

“You were confused,” said Tim.

Jake said, “You didn’t know who you were supposed to be.”

“Yes!” said Neil. “I believed my identity was what I did. What if, instead, I based my identity on something different?”

“What are you talking about, Teach?” asked Mia.

Neil sized up the class, and with a hint of a smile asked, “What if my identity is who I am being, instead of what I am doing?”

“Is that a thing?” asked Kat, tilting her head.

“Yes, it’s a thing, Kat,” said Neil. On the board he wrote:

Identity: Being vs. Doing

Neil tapped the marker into the palm of one hand. “Think of ‘being’ as your character, principles, morals, and values. This becomes the foundation of how you live day-to-day. It’s how you choose to show up.

“Three examples from our code of conduct are honesty, respect, and trust. Those are ways of ‘being’, regardless of what you are doing in class. Your way of ‘being’ is how you choose to behave.”

Here is the link to Part Six in this series, Empowered by Choice.

For a free copy of a comprehensive PDF workbook on these tools and concepts, send me an email at [email protected].

I appreciate receiving your comments and feedback.


For more techniques and tools for your mental and emotional well-being, check out my unique and engaging self-improvement novel, The Shift Squad.

I write to inspire others to greater self-empowerment, authenticity, and improved emotional and mental well-being.

I am the author of the unique personal development novel The Shift Squad.

If you like what you read please subscribe for updates, share my articles with others, and add your comments below.

You can connect with me via email at [email protected] , on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Be Empowered. Make Authentic Choices And Enhance Your Quality Of Life.


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