What is being strong in identity?
Your identity is how you understand you and often how others understand you too. It is a combination of all the qualities and traits, along with all your expressions and looks that make you who you are and that give you connection to others. This includes expressions of culture, speech, religion or spirituality and love.
Why having strong identity is important?
Some of our old people speak of our identity as a reflection of how our spirit is feeling. When your spirit is strong, positive, and connected this is what people see of you. When it is not, then this is what people tend to see too. Being strong in your identity is being confident and feeling safe in who you are and you’re likely to feel stable and in control. You’re less likely to question yourself or to worry about the comments from others. When you’re strong in your identity you aren't as worried about what others think of you. You feel complete and your whole self feels healthier. You will be less stressed, more likely to be physically well and your relationships will be stronger.
How can I connect with my strong identity?
Your identity is yours - a good place to start maintaining a strong identity is spending time exploring what feels right and fits best for who you are. Your identity can be shaped by many things, such as your:
- connection to people like your friends, family and community
Learning about these and discovering how these relate to you can help you maintain a strong identity.
What helps maintain a strong identity?
There are a lot of things that you can do to maintain a strong identity. To think about what can help you maintain a strong identity, you might like to:
- go somewhere quiet
- close your eyes
- allow yourself to dream about who you are.
You might become aware of all the parts that make up your identity. Some of these parts might not fit with others’ expectations of you, that’s OK. There is always going to be parts of our identity that make others feel uncomfortable. It can be helpful to remember this is not your problem, it is more likely theirs! Live your life in a way that makes you feel good and reflects your spirit in a positive way. By doing this, others will learn about your strong identity and you will feel stronger in yourself.
What can influence on your strong identity?
Sometimes the actions of others, or the experiences we have may challenge our strong identity. Things that can challenge our identity can include:
- who we fall in love with
- the cultural group we identify with
- what we choose to wear
- what we enjoy doing
- tough experiences that we go through in life.
Sometimes we can feel pressure to change parts of our identity to impress others or get likes on social media. When we do this, we aren’t being true to our identity. When you are told negative behaviours or beliefs are a part of a group you identify with, then it can leave you experiencing identity conflict.
Living your true identity
If you are feeling like your identity is unstable, confused or conflicted then it can be helpful to seek some advice from people you trust. Living your true identity might seem scary at first. Living your true and strong identity is probably is the most freeing thing you can do for your spirit and your wellbeing in the long run.
- As/Is - I’m Aboriginal but I’m not
- TedXYouth@Brissie - Belinda Huntress
- headspace - What is gender identity?
- Creative Spirits - Who is 'Aboriginal'?
- Creative Spirits - LGBTIQA+ Aboriginal people
- headspace - Download and create your own Stronger You wheel
- WellMob - Social, emotional and cultural wellbeing online resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
If you feel you need help with your strong identity it is important you yarn up with someone you trust. If it’s advice around your cultural identity this might be an elder, if it’s to do with other parts of your identity this might be a teacher, counsellor or even a sport coach. You may wish to try one of the organisations below also.
This resource has been developed in partnership with the headspace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Youth Reference Group (Womenjeka Reference Group), Marumali Consultations, the headspace National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and headspace National.
The headspace Clinical Reference Group oversee and approve clinical resources made available on this website.
Last reviewed 1 July 2021.
Wellbeing wheel reference:
Gee, G., Dudgeon, P., Schultz, C., Hart, A, & Kerrie, K. (2014).Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing. In P. Dudgeon., H. Milroy, & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice (2nd Ed.) (pp. 55-68). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.