Outside influences have a strong capability to influence and alter our personal identity. Both directly and indirectly, the social contexts in which we live can change the way we think and feel, and by extension how we interact with other people and places. Immediate family, friendship groups and the physical environment are all factors which contribute to our ever changing perceptions of ourselves. Sometimes personal identity can be subtly reshaped over a gradual time frame, as our sense of who we are is modified without personal recognition that we are changing. At other times we may be able to notice our personal identity changing, through important life decisions.
The first roots of our identity will be moulded by immediate family. Parents’ religions, beliefs, behaviour and attitude are all instilled into a person in their early years. In saying this, it is evident that one’s self identity can be subject to the ideas of others. When children are young, they are very impressionable. They will observe their parents traits, and try to imitate these in their own lives. This occurrence relates to “who we are with”, and initiates a beginning in ones creation of their own personal identity. Before they are able to really think for themselves and make decisions based on their own feelings and ideas, influences from those around them are all they have to base their identity on.
As people then grow to form individual views and ideas, they may be compelled to rebel against previously instilled behaviour. These contrasting ideas and subsequent actions will suggest a desired change in personal identity. As a person ages, they are able to choose the people they associate with, steering away from family influences. This will usually result in a further change in identity, as the need to belong proves as a powerful motivator. Social contexts can change quite rapidly, and the people we identify with