Self Esteem & Identity Development

Adolescence is the time when an individual starts to develop a sense of self and identity. While this continues and evolves over a lifetime, adolescence is the starting point when an individual begins to ask themselves introspective questions in defining their sense of self and think about how their identity affects their life. This is when we start to ask ourselves, “Who am I?”. Adolescents may try new activities, new social groups, new hobbies, in identity exploration. Challenges can arise in teens when identity exploration doesn’t materialize into certainty or commitment. Teens can be left feeling unsettled, insecure, and anxious without direction and self-identity which in turn can affect their self-esteem. 

 “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

– Oscar Wilde

Importance of Identity Development

People who are currently engaging in identity exploration and experiencing
identity confusion might experience increased symptoms of depression or anxiety (Schwartz, S. J., Zamboanga, B. L., Weisskirch, R. S., & Rodriguez, L. (2009). The relationships of personal and ethnic identity exploration to indices of adaptive and maladaptive psychosocial functioning. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 33, 131-144). This reinforces the importance for adolescents to successfully start to define a strong sense of self and identity as they begin to transition into early adulthood. If your teen feels stuck or struggling to define their identity, therapy may be able to help dislodge some of the blocks to development. 

Link Between Identity Development & Self-Esteem

It’s no secret that identity and self-esteem are closely related. A strong sense of identity and positive self-esteem are important to mental health. Self-identity has to do with how you define yourself and who you think you are. Self-esteem is a value of self-worth. 

Importance of Positive Self-Esteem

Individuals with a low self-esteem often struggle with anxiety, depression, and lack the confidence to make decisions or take on new challenges. Low self-esteem can also lead to engaging or continuing in unhealthy relationships. Combating low self-esteem often involves redefining the narrative around self-identity. Identifying negative thoughts such as “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not good enough” can help start the process of changing that narrative. 

Not everyone needs therapy for self-esteem, but if you feel like your teen has continued to struggle contact us today about how we can help. 

Mental disorders affect the whole family.

Our counselors are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.