Silhouettes of individuals with question marks on their chests and the words 'What's My Identity?'

Explain how individual identity and self-esteem are linked to emotional and spiritual wellbeing

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

Emotional, spiritual and general well-being means being content, comfortable and happy with one’s life.

Many factors can contribute towards well-being, including:

  • physical health
  • mental health
  • social relationships including friends, family and sexual relationships
  • spirituality, religion and philosophical beliefs – can give meaning or purpose to life
  • cultural identity and engagement
  • political stability and opinions
  • societal interaction and contribution

These factors combined make up our our own unique identity or self-image. This is the way we view ourselves and includes our hopes, dreams, fears, feelings and opinions.

Having the freedom to express our identity and self-image can have a massive positive impact on our self-esteem as we are able to be ourselves without the worry of ridicule or persecution. Conversely, if an individual is unable to express their natural selves or it is stifled by outside influences, it can make them feel upset, angry or sad, which can decrease their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Therefore, it is important that care workers promote and support an individual’s identity by helping them to ensure that they are happy and content in as many aspects of their well-being as possible.

Example question and answer

Your work is running a campaign to improve staff understanding of all aspects of person centred care.

You have been asked to create the following materials:

[Aiv] A hand out that explains the link between identity, self-image and self-esteem

IDENTITY SELF-IMAGE & SELF-ESTEEM

Positive identity, self-image and self-esteem are necessary factors for an individual to have a good sense of well-being. In this handout, you will learn what each of these phrases mean and the links between them.

IDENTITY

All individuals have two types of identity; their social identity and their personal identity.

Social Identity identifies the roles that we play in our life or the cultural groups that we belong to. Examples of social identity include father, teacher, English or Muslim.

Personal Identity is the things that are personal to us such as our goals, achievements, likes/dislikes, emotions, style, body image and behaviours.

SELF-IMAGE

Self-image is how we see ourselves and how we believe that others perceive us.

Our self-image may not reflect reality – an individual with anorexia may see themselves as being overweight, when in reality they are underweight.

SELF-ESTEEM

Self-esteem is an evaluation of yourself based on your identity and self-image, which ultimately results in how you feel about yourself.

Self-esteem can be either positive or negative, resulting in high or low self-esteem respectively.

Examples of positive evaluations include:

  • I am handsome
  • I am smart
  • I am good at swimming

Examples of negative evaluations include:

  • I am ugly
  • I am stupid
  • I am rubbish at swimming

THE LINKS

So, in summary, an individual’s identity is composed of all the characteristics that make that person unique.

An individual’s self-image is their perception of themselves based upon their identity.

An individual’s self-esteem is how they feel about themselves and how confident they are with themselves.

If an individual’s identity is repressed, this can directly affect their self-image and lower their self esteem.

For example, if an individual likes punk music but is told that they cannot dye their hair green, they may feel as though they are unable to express themselves and cannot have the self-image that they want. This can then have the knock-on effect that their self-esteem is lowered because they feel that they cannot be themselves.

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