A Mormon faith transition is a full blown IDENTITY CRISIS. It usually entails new friends, new way of dressing, new ways of eating, new ways of sleeping, new ways of talking.
It prompts questions such as:
- Who am I?
- Do I like this new version of me?
- Will others like the new version of me?
- Is it worth it?
Change of this magnitude often causes the brain to freak out. We are asking it to leave its comfort zone and familiar patterns of thought and action. That is what causes the stress that we call an identity crisis. It is really our brain fighting change.
So how does one deal with an identity crisis? Here are three steps to consider:
- Sit with your emotions. What are you feeling? Try to name it, maybe its fear, doubt, uncertainty, anger, confusion? Acknowledge the emotion, embrace it, and see it as part of the process and not a reason to stop moving forward. Feel it. Feel it in your body. Know it is ok to feel these feelings. DO NOT underestimate the power of this step. Just acknowledging and processing the turbulent emotions around an identity crisis can often be enough to cope successfully with the change.
- Decide how you want to feel instead. If you are anything like me an identity crisis that comes from a faith transition often feels like the ground in unstable under my feet or that my skin doesn’t exactly fit any more. These are all normal. Once you process the emotions (see step 1), then it is time to ask yourself, “What do I want to feel now?” This might depend on what you want to do. If you want to make BIG changes maybe you want to feel determined. If you want to explore the new you, maybe you want to feel excited or curious. If you want to settle in and feel restful, maybe peace is what you are going to work towards. Other ideas may be: Committed, Motivated, Compassionate, etc.
- Practice thinking the thoughts to generate that emotion. Now you have the emotion you want, you get to feel it. You are in charge of your thoughts and emotions. If you want to feel a particular feeling, all you have to do it practice thinking thoughts that will create that feeling. You have more power than you realize. You really do have control over how you think and feel if you take that control and stop blaming others and your circumstances for how you are feeling.
These steps may sound to simple or not enough to really solve your issues. Try it ANYWAY. These are simple but powerful tools. An identity crisis is scary but also a great opportunity to be someone new and better. Just recognizing you are experiencing an identity crisis can be helpful to give yourself the grace and space to process your new identity. Embrace the new you, it will be well worth the ride.