Illustration for the article titled How To Separate Your Identity From Your Behavior (and Why You Should)Image: Pimchawee (Shutterstock)

In a perfect world it would be easy to separate our flaws from our personal identity, but in reality it is rarely an easy task. Everyone’s life is riddled with misjudgment, but it is crucial that you do not allow mistakes to rule your life or undermine your self-esteem. Any misstep can become an instructive moment if you approach it with the right intentions: forgiving yourself and looking for ways to understand those who may have offended or disappointed you.

Don’t let your mistakes define you

It is important to understand the difference between behavior and identity. Although they are inherently related in many ways, one is not always a symptom of the other. The relationship between behavior and identity is a separate area of ​​research in which religious sects discuss whether it is even possible to separate sin from sinner, and Scholars who have studied the relationship between articulated self-esteem and behavioral deficiencies since the 1930s.

But the way people can Finding success in their mistakesIt is also true that learning from your mistakes – or at least recognizing when you make a mistake – helps make others popular.

Admitting mistakes “provides a model for what you expect from your partner or colleagues” Dr. Paulette Sherman, Sacred Baths psychologist and author and host of The Love Psychologist podcast to Lifehacker. “It makes you accountable and trustworthy … if you create a safe space to be honest about your mistakes, hopefully others will feel comfortable too.”

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Of course, that is easier said than done. Admission of mistakes is an affront to their personal identity for many people, especially those who are usually tough on themselves. In clinical circles, it is a concept known as “cognitive dissonance”. Social psychologist Carol Tavris explained that New York Times in 2017 say:

Cognitive dissonance is what we feel when the self-concept – I am smart, I am kind, I am convinced that this belief is true – is threatened by evidence that we did something that was not wise, that we did something have done that hurt another person that the belief is not true.

If your idea of ​​you is seemingly torn apart by someone close to you, it can be devastating. But that is seldom, if ever, the intention of the person affected by your mistake.

Separating identity from behavior is a learning process

An exercise that is easy to do: remember how to talk to a child. As Sherman notes, one never wants to explain to a child that they are inherently bad (or shy, picky, stubborn, bossy, or a crybaby), only that their behavior may have been wrong.

Sometimes resistance to criticism is rooted in a kind of childhood trauma that festers and can internalize in adults. “Underlying [the resistance to criticism] can be a fear [that a person] get fired or their partner won’t love them if they’re not perfect, ”says Sherman. “So guilt and omission lies eat them away, and things cannot flourish unless there is a foundation of trust.”

The truth is, we have to learn to calm ourselves down. “The higher self within us knows that we are lovable and that we are here to learn and grow. If we adopt a softer voice, it will lead to more expansion and move us in a better direction, ”says Sherman.

What is the difference between guilt and shame?

Another crucial difference that can help you release the criticism from your ego is understanding the difference between guilt and shame. Of course, nobody should try to make you feel guilty, but having a guilty conscience about your specific actions is a great motivator. As licensed clinical social worker Justin Lioi told Lifehacker:

Feelings of guilt can be very motivating for us to see what we did that was harmful and to help us not do it again. Shame leads us down a long rabbit hole that leads us to believe that we are causing harm because we are naturally bad people. It doesn’t give us the energy to change, but rather to be defensive and hide that part of us.

Your actions are only indicative of your true nature when you express a strong dislike for changing course or have no remorse for any harm you repeatedly cause. Fortunately, that’s not the vast majority of people.