Identity Issues

Updated: July 23, 2022

Psychologists have long studied identity, but what are identity issues? Identity issues arise when people experience difficulties around their sense of self and who they are.  There are many reasons for why this might happen, and sometimes it can become an ‘identity crisis‘.

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What Are Identity Issues?

As human beings, our identity is important because it provides a sense of self, and a source of  meaning and belonging.  If we feel connected to a kind of self, and are able to define ourselves, we are more able to navigate life, and find our place in the world.  This means identity has implications for social cohesion and wellbeing.  Indeed, our identity is made up by the many groups we feel a part of (such as ethnic background, religion, political affiliations, etc), and thus identity intersects.  But sometimes people experience uncertainty about one or more of these aspects, and this can impact identity.


For example, career choice, long-term career plans, friends, one’s role in the family, parenting, gender or sexual identity, values, and group affiliations.  When uncertainty escalates and is joined by feelings of confusion, identity crisis may occur.  This places individuals’ sense of self at risk, and they may experience insecurity in their identity, making them feel unstable.  An identity crisis can happen at any time, and often occurs when people experience major change.

What Are The Symptoms?

Co-dependency & Limitations

In co-dependent relationships, people are unable to develop a strong and firm sense of self.  This means they will often rely on the other’s opinions and cannot make decisions for themselves.  This can make them feel insecure and dis-abled in many ways, and result in limited life prospects as they are unable to find or take opportunities.

Devaluing Oneself

Many people who experience some sort of identity crisis will often begin to feel worthless, and may start to devalue themselves, also impacting self-esteem.

Emotional Vulnerability

Losing one’s sense of identity, and all that encompasses often comes with a sense of vulnerability.  People can feel confusion, anxiety, frustration, and depression, and find it difficult to regulate their emotions due to their vulnerability.

Feeling Aimless & Lost

When identity is destabilised, individuals can feel like they have very little to ground them.  This creates a sense of feeling lost, and having no clear direction.


People can understandably feel quite insecure when their core foundations are shaken.  When identity issues arise this can be especially pronounced.

Low Self-Esteem

When identity feels insecure, it is very common to experience negative self-views.  These create feelings of deficiency, making individuals feel bad about themselves, also creating or triggering feelings of low mood and a sense of worthlessness.

Mental Health Problems

When one experiences identity issues, it’s common for mental health to suffer.  This is because struggling with one’s sense of self often causes a whole host of emotional difficulties like anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness, shame, and more.

No Purpose

When one’s identity and the associated values are at risk or hard to access, people often report not feeling the sense of purpose they once did.

What Causes Identity Issues?

Often a change can trigger identity issues or crisis. Some common ones include:  A new relationship, marriage, separation or divorce, losing a loved one (e.g., a friend, spouse, or family member), relocating, a traumatic event (e.g., an accident), getting a new job or losing one, a medical diagnosis, physical health issues, especially chronic pain or illness, mental health problems, retirement, and parenthood.

Sometimes when a person is emotionally too dependent on someone else, whether that be a parent, friend, or spouse, they can experience an inability to trust their own judgement.  This may be because of an underdeveloped core identity (because they have always depended on a parent, for example), or because identity has been shaken by another’s influence (for example, a partner).

Ultimately, issues that relate to change of some sort, and impact us practically, but also intrapsychicly (our inner world), and sense of self, all culminate in potential impact on identity.

How Phinity Can Help

At Phinity we offer a number of ways to work with identity issues or crisis, and a place in which you can openly explore troubling issues related to your identity.  Through this, people often find understanding and this in turn helps reduce feelings of depression, low self-esteem, anxieties, and more.

Identity issues can feel scary and sometimes we become numb to our feelings to protect ourselves so we can continue to function.  Therapy can help you feel, accept, and work through the emotions you are having, rather than suppress them, which is often more harmful in the long-term.

We work holistically and believe it is important to find things that ground you at a time when you are likely feeling lost and adrift.  We will create a care plan with you, to prioritise you.  For example, by identifying things you could implement to improve mood, and overall mental wellbeing.

We will work with you to affirm your core values, or discover the ones that are important to you now.  No matter where you are, we will accept, rather than judge you, toward honest and open exploration.

In addition, you will be guided toward ways that help you to regain control, this will help you feel you can cope with the difficulties you experience around identity issues.

Through honest and safe confrontation of issues, we aim to help you find the meaning in your experience, through psychotherapy, you can experience insights and learn things about yourself that help you to reconcile identity issues, and transcend beyond them.

What Causes Identity Issues?How Phinity Can Help


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