Who Am I?

Exploring your identity.

You Must Do the Thing You Think You Cannot Do

Pushing Out of Our Comfort Zone and Facing Fear as a Secret to Identity

Lately I've been reading Eleanor Roosevelt's You Learn by Living: 11 Keys for a More Fulfilling Life and don't think it is possible to overestimate how inspiring her words still are after more than 50 years since it was first published.

And I'm struck by how one of the famous quotes regarding Roosevelt's second key, i.e. needing to face the great enemy, fear: "You must do the thing you think you cannot do".

This oft cited quote is without a doubt a secret to adult identity development too. We know that the most mature of all four identity statuses is Identity Achievement, which requires commitment -- and exploration.

Such commitment and exploration can be to a certain career, religion, political view, etc. But they may also be to a world view.

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And the less willing we are to consider alternate points of view, via reading, conversations with others who are different, or merely pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone by traveling to explore a new city, the fewer opportunities to have to learn more about the world -- and our role in it.

So if there are any graduate students out there interested in identity development during adulthood, they might want to determine if and how facing our fears plays a role in moving from an Identity Diffusion or Identity Foreclosure to an Identity Moratorium or Identity Achievement.

In the meantime, I recommend strongly that everyone read You Learn by Living: 11 Keys for a More Fulfilling Life.


Kristine Anthis, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Southern Connecticut State University.


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