Having an Identity Crisis? Here’s How to Navigate It

An identity crisis comes in all shapes and sizes, which makes navigating these challenging moments quite difficult. But understanding the signs and then learning how to remember your spiritual identity will help you come out on top. Know you aren’t alone. Let’s learn together.

Signs You Are Struggling

It’s important to recognize the signs if you are struggling—and sometimes that’s not easy. This feeling of “identity crisis” often comes with big changes. Loss of a job. A big move. A new relationship. Change brings out a plethora of emotions, but it also effects our brains. “Our brains have evolved to really like certainty, which stems from our basic drive to survive. We have evolved to predict and control our circumstances because doing so optimizes the ability to live. When we experience change, our brains can interpret it as a ‘threat’ or as a ‘challenge’” (Your Brain at Work). When we feel threatened, our stress levels rise and we aren’t able to clearly think through situations as well. This is why an identity crisis feels so overwhelming.

Constant overwhelm is just one sign. Maybe you are questioning your career or path in life. Maybe you feel a little bit like you’re floundering in the dark. If you’ve struggled to understand your purpose or feel disconnected from the people and things in your life, you aren’t alone. Maybe you are conflicted with what your role is in your home life or want to find greater passion in what you do. Read on. These are all signs that you may be facing an identity crisis. 

Now What?

Don’t let the term identity crisis concern you. Here’s the truth: We all face moments where we question or doubt who we are. There are phases in life where we experience greater confidence and moments where our insecurities show. It’s the flow of life. So take a deep breath and recognize this is a natural cycle. 

It’s important to remember that your purpose and role changes as you move through life. Your identity is something that can shift and grow and develop.  When you were a child, your purpose was to have fun, develop vital educational skills, and experience the “joys” of puberty. Now, your role looks different. Maybe you’re an important team player at work or trying to be a supportive significant other. Each area of our lives provides us the opportunity to take ownership of a new role. 

Train your mind to be present and focused in whatever role it is you need to play right now. The true test of life is learning to balance. And just remember: if you are navigating adulthood with a little anxiety, that’s ok. It’s new and you’re human. Give yourself a little grace.

Remembering Your Spiritual Identity

When I’m feeling overwhelmed and bombarded by the change all around me, I take a moment to find my spiritual center. Remembering who you are—outside of your job title, your volunteer hours, your relationships—is vital. Underneath your choice of fashion and your hobbies and talents lies an inner light, a spiritual being, a soul. Finding your center can help ground you in moments of identity crisis. It can provide hope and peace and light—all feelings you so desperately need when your world seems to be spinning out of control around you.

One activity I’ve pursued (multiple times!) is to write a mission statement for that phase of my life. I take time to reflect on who I truly am, what my main goals are, and who I want to become. I write a couple of sentences declaring this new vision and reread often. This practice helps me refocus on my spiritual identity.

Engaging in simple spiritual practices every day will help you avoid moments of identity crisis. They can also help you navigate the harder moments of doubt and fear and questioning.  The more you nourish your spiritual center, the more confidence you will exude in the regular tasks of life. The more stable you’ll feel when life comes crashing down on you. And the more peace you’ll find when your world feels miserably chaotic and something like a crisis. Strengthening your spiritual core is the answer.

During this moment of identity crisis, try to change your mindset. Look at this as an opportunity to explore—to adventure! Discover what spiritual practices your soul enjoys. Determine what brings you pure happiness. And then move forward one step at a time. Don’t try to take on too much. Just one simple step.