Among our most important beliefs are those we hold about who we are, our values and what we can achieve. This is usually a challenging lifetime journey to find clarity of Self and then to follow through with continuity in our actions. The cultures or "roadmaps" in which we are raised and the cultures we find ourselves living in as children and adults have tremendous influences on our identity, often unconsciously.
Straddling the cultural worlds of one's heritage in Africa or the Caribbean and the quite different cultural worlds in the U.S. can cause conflict and confusion in attempting to sort out and build a new empowering set of beliefs and meaning that is uniquely you.
The Meaning of Life: Finding One's True Identity
The Key Principles of Identity
1. Identity is the most important power that determines our actions.
We will act according to our views of who we truly are - whether these views are accurate or not.
2. Once we know who we are, we must learn to be ourselves.
Trying to live in a way that's inconsistent with our true nature will create a life of frustration, stress and disappointment. We must learn to embrace our deepest needs, desires, strengths, fears, values and beliefs in order to create harmony and tap into our tremendous potential.
3. Sometimes, people maintain the illusion that their behavior decides who they really are.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We have all experienced moments of anxiety and defeat, and as a result have said or done things that don't reflect who we are. This does not make these behaviors a part
of our identity. Rather, they are momentary lapses or unique attempts to meet our needs in the moment.
4. When we take responsibility, we restore our identity.
When we create unfavorable or hostile situations, we should take action to repair any harm that we may have caused.
5. The fastest way to expand our identity is to do something that's inconsistent with our current self-image.
For example, complete a physical challenge like surfing or sky diving as a way to shake things up.
6. Our personal identities are in a constant state of evolution.
We all contain the power to reinvent ourselves and create a new, empowered identity that expands what is possible in our lives. The key is to take conscious control of the beliefs we are creating about ourselves, so they can propel us toward what we desire most
"Your philosophy of life shapes you more than anything else.” Anthony Robbins
The Importance of Culture, Language and Identity
"Understanding others makes possible a better knowledge of oneself: any form of identity is complex, for individuals are defined in relation to other people - both individually and collectively - and the various groups to which they owe allegiance, in a constantly shifting pattern."
(UNESCO, Learning: The
Treasure Within, 1996)
Understanding and valuing cultural diversity are the keys to countering racism. All individuals must feel free to explore the uniqueness of their culture and identity while developing understandings of the cultural diversity that exists in the world around them. Denying cultural expression means limiting
the expression of unique perspectives on life and the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation.
A Continuum of Cultural Identity:
There are a number of scales that have been developed to help define the range of "statuses" that a person may experience as an immigrant. Here are a few examples:
keeping respect for one's family values and traditions while being able to function well in American society,
absorbing American values exclusively while rejecting, dropping respect for and no longer practicing one's traditional family values and culture,
living within an exclusive "ethnic" community separated from the mainstream American culture, which may result in "feelings of powerlessness, being discriminated against, and having no place", in relationship to the larger American society.
developing a dysfunctional identity that is confused and unhealthy. To help us feel what it's like, here is a sample of experiences: