With so many people floating through life, a person with a strong sense of identity will emerge from the crowd. This is not a forced act, but a natural and organic evolution.
According to psychological identity theory, there are four stages of identity development.
At stage one, you have no identity. You blindly accept whatever ideology or values system was taught by your parents or family members.
At stage two, you begin expanding your social circle, but you passively go with the flow of society without questioning. You lack authenticity and obsess over fitting in and pleasing others. Like stage one: no true identity.
At stage three, you begin to experience an identity crisis. You realize you’ve been faking, copying, and blindly following your entire life. You begin to question your choices and values. This leads you to explore new lifestyles, belief systems, choices, friends, and cultures.
However, at this stage there is little commitment and depth. Instead, it is endless searching for the next thing. Most people are stuck in a perpetual identity crisis. They have no clue who they really are.
At stage four, you have courageously voyaged through your identity crisis and autonomously committed to a particular identity (i.e., ideology, occupation, relational values, etc.). You continue to explore. However, this exploration is grounded on foundational beliefs and a clear sense of who you are and what your direction is in life.
Every person must pass through the identity development process. Few reach the capstone. Most never obtain their own id
Written by Benjamin Hardy