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What should people do when they are at a loss?


By Dylan M ParkinPublished 12 months ago 5 min read

The feeling of confusion and meaninglessness may come from a lack of identity for yourself. At this time, it may be a good choice to quietly think about "who I am" and "what I want".

The founder of KnowYourself once gave a talk at Tsinghua University. During the talk, she asked the audience a question: How many of you feel confused and don't have an answer about "who I am" yet?

The students in the audience were all educated at the top of the world and were able to solve very complex scientific problems, but as a result, three-quarters of the students in the audience said that they could not answer the question "Who am I?

It's strange, isn't it? These students are so smart. Why couldn't they answer the question, "Who am I?

"Who am I?" This question is actually about one's self-identity.

What is self-identity?

If you are clear about who you are, where you are going, and how you relate to society, and have a relatively stable and continuous perception, then such a state is called self-identity.

This may be a bit abstract, so let's talk about it more specifically.

Why do you need self-identity?

This is because the formation of self-identity is the basis for many important life choices. For example, a person who has formed a self-identity will have a clearer idea of his or her own bottom line and values, what kind of people he or she likes to make friends with, what he or she chooses as his or her career, how to balance social expectations with his or her own wishes, and so on.

Are you also exploring these questions?

According to the famous psychologist Erikson, the formation of self-identity is a necessary path for everyone in life, and it is in the process of different explorations, trials and choices that people gradually get to know themselves and gain a self-identity.

At first, Erikson believed that self-identity is mainly accomplished during adolescence.

But later it was discovered that adolescence is an important stage in the development of self-identity, but self-identity is actually an exhaustive lifelong process, that is to say, people cannot avoid, throughout their lives, to know themselves, this thing.

The four states of self-identity

Psychologists have divided self-identity into four states based on the level of exploration and the degree of identification with oneself.

The first state is early closure. Early closure.

People in this state acquire a self-identity very early.

Doesn't that sound pretty good? Early enough to answer the ultimate philosophical question of 'who am I?

But it's not.

Because the answer to this question is not arrived at in the process of their exploration, but by others for them.

This is the equivalent of getting a ghostwriter to write an assignment for them.

And who is this ghostwriter? Usually it is the parents. For example, the "mommy and daddy".

What is the situation of a mumbo-jumbo man? The mother will do whatever she tells him to do. Whether it's going to school, getting a job, or finding a date, they all listen to their mother.

This is a very typical state of early closure.

The second state is chaos.

People in a state of confusion don't know who they are and don't explore.

They can easily abandon the decisions they have made and are always in a state of "taking one step at a time".

The third state is deferral. The state of delayed aging.

People in the state of "deferred" are struggling to explore themselves, to find themselves, but do not yet have an answer.

These people may be thinking "what kind of job is my real passion, I hope to find the best one for me", "everyone wants to go to the financial industry which is close to money, should I go with the crowd? If not, then what do I want to do? .

These people are also often the most likely to feel like they are in crisis, wondering who they are and not knowing.

They are also more likely to feel confused and anxious.

However, people in a deferred state are also the ones most likely to go through the exploration and actually find out who they are.

Truly finding out who you are, the final state of self-identity, is called 'attainment'.

To reach this state, you have to explore yourself in a crisis, in a more complex environment, and eventually gain a clearer understanding of yourself.

People in this state of "attainment" have made a "commitment" to certain specific life goals, beliefs, and values, and are able to determine their own direction in life based on their understanding of themselves.

As an example, I have a friend who is a lawyer.

Originally, he worked in a very famous law firm, specializing in handling labor disputes for large companies, with a very high salary.

Many people envied his job, and at first he was very satisfied.

But later in his work, he saw that very many workers' claims were actually legitimate, but they just had to put up with them because they didn't have the financial resources and energy. And many of those workers who insisted on filing lawsuits were dragged down alive.

This caused a particularly big shock to his sense of justice. He began to feel that he was working for the tiger.

He struggled internally for a long time; after all, his job did give him very good material conditions.

In the end, he still felt that these material conditions could not override his inner sense of justice and decided to resign.

In fact, his final choice is not that important.

What is important is that he clarified in the crisis what things are unacceptable to him and what values he wants to pursue.

By exploring in the crisis, he better reached his self-identity.

Factors that influence self-identity

The next question is, what are the factors that affect self-identity?

Three main factors are included here. Family factors, social environment factors, and autonomy factors.

Family factors


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