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How to separate your identity from your behavior (and why you should)


Illustration for the article titled How to Separate Your Identity from Your Behavior (and Why You Should)

Drawing: pimchawee (Shutterstock)

In a perfect world, it would be easy to disentangle our mistakes from our personal identities, but in reality, it is rarely a straightforward task. Everyone’s life is riddled with errors in judgment, but it’s crucial that you don’t let mistakes define your life or erode your self-confidence. EAny misstep can become a good time for learning if you approach it with the right intentions: namely, to forgive yourself and to seek ways to understand those you may have offended or disappointed.

Don’t let your mistakes define you

It is important to understand the difference between behavior and identity. While they are, in many ways, intrinsically linked, one is not always a symptom of the other. TThe relationship between behavior and identity is something of its own area of ​​study, with religious sects debating whether it is even possible to separate sin from the sinner, and scholars who have studied the relationship between articulated sense of self and behavioral quirks since the 1930s.

However, just as people can find success in failures, It’s also true that learning from mistakes – or at least realizing them when you’re at fault – helps you love others.

Admit fault “sets a pattern for what you would like your partner or colleagues to do”, Dr Paulette Sherman, psychologist and author of Sacred baths and host of The Love Psychologist podcast tells Lifehacker. “It makes you responsible and trustworthy … if you create a safe space to be honest about your mistakes, so i hope others will feel comfortable doing it too.

Obviously, it is Easier said than done. Admitting one’s fault, for many people, especially those who are generally hard on themselves, is an affront to them. personal identity. In clinical circles, this is a concept known as “cognitive dissonance.” Social psychologist Carol Tavris explained how it works to New York Times in 2017, saying:

Cognitive dissonance is what we feel when the concept of self – I’m smart, I’m nice, I’m convinced this belief is true – is threatened by the evidence that we’ve done something that wasn’t smart, that we did something that hurt another person, that belief is not true.

When your idea of ​​yourself is seemingly torn apart by a loved one, it can be devastating. But that is rarely, if ever, the intention of the person affected by your mistake.

To separate identity of behavior Ia learning process

A fairly simple exercise to implement: Tthink of it in terms of talking to a child. As Sherman notes, you never want to explain to a child that they are inherently bad (or shy, difficult, stubborn, authoritarian, or a Cry baby), only that their behavior may have been wrong.

Sometimes resistance to criticism is rooted in a kind of childhood trauma, which can fester and internalize in adults. “Underlying [the resistance to criticism] maybe a fear [that a person] will be fired or their partner won’t like them if they’re not perfect, ”Sherman says. “So guilt and lies of omission eat away at them, and things cannot flourish if there is no basis for trust. ”

The truth is, we have to learn to calm down. “The higher self within us knows that we are lovable and here to learn and grow. If we take a softer voice, it will create more expansion and point us in a better direction, ”Sherman said.

What is the difference between guilt and shame?

Another crucial distinction that can help you untangle the criticisms of your ego it is understanding the difference between guilt and shame. Of course, no one should try to make you feel guilty, but feeling bad about your specific actions is a great motivating force. As licensed clinical social worker Justin Lioi tells Lifehacker:

Guilt can be very motivating for us to see what we have done wrong and to help ourselves stop doing it. Shame takes us down a long rabbit hole that makes us think we are causing harm because we are bad people by nature. It doesn’t give us the energy to change, but to be on the defensive and hide that part of us.

Your actions are only indicative of your true nature if you express a strong reluctance to change course or if you have no remorse for any damage you may repeatedly cause. Fortunately, that is not what the vast majority of people are.

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