Loss of identity

Loss of identity can come in many forms. Having children, redundancy, retirement, are just a few of the situations that can leave people feeling that they have lost a sense of who they are, where their worth lies and questioning their sense of self. 

These feelings can often feel very confusing, particularly when the changes that have taken place have been viewed in a positive light, both by the person themselves and family and friends around them. Someone who has people saying how lucky they are to be retired are unlikely to find it easy to say if they are struggling with the loss of structure and identity. Likewise, a full-time mum may find it hard to verbalise that she feels that she has missed out or had children too soon, for the fear of appearing ungrateful or of not loving her children enough. In addition, there can be a sense of guilt for having these feelings.

Redundancy brings its own additional challenges, as in addition to the loss of the job role, structure, and sense of purpose, there can be guilt about not contributing financially.

Even moving from one job to another, perhaps for excellent reasons, such as a better work/life balance, can bring on a sense of feeling displaced. Especially true if the previous role was one where everyone came to you for advice; or it was a position of some authority. Adjusting to a lesser role can be really challenging.

Sometimes making changes can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. However, starting with small goals can help. The goal might be to re-train or study, but there may be restrictions of time and money. Lots of colleges offer short taster courses and this can be a chance to try different things; especially good for those who are unsure of which direction they want to go in. The Open University do offer free courses via Open Learn which is a great way to find out what really interests you.

Sometimes rediscovering your identity might mean taking up something that you enjoyed in the past, maybe a passionate hobby or something you never had the time to do before such as a sport, dancing, baking, cycling etc...

Whatever the challenge, counselling can offer the space and time to explore these feelings, concerns and questions, in a completely non-judgemental, therapeutic relationship.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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