Module 2 – identification Part 1

What are identification and identity? There are different and sometimes more complicated descriptions of this but an easy explanation is that identification is a mix of your personality, and how we value and compare to others, both as a person and a group. Sometimes in phycology, we talk about the idea of the ego. Identification is the act of naming someone or something for example to show who you are. Like you do with the passport.

There are a lot of things that going to affect this: nationality, culture, background, how you move, talk, region, family, economy, social situation, sexual orientation, etc.
We going to come back to this later in a separate module.

Identify and identification is also a signal system, so you and your surrounding know how to act. For example, if you are a father, you know more or less how a father acts because you had a father and have seen other fathers acting. In other words, we will copy someone’s identity and behavior depending on the time and situation.

Let us divide identification into two parts:
The first is to identify yourself as a stereotype with a fixed and oversimplified image.
The second is to be a “chameleon,” who controls your personality functions such as feelings and thinking and are able to adapt your identification to the situation so it benefits you.

You’ve probably heard this before; it’s only to be yourself! But, hum, what does that mean?

Allow me to use myself as an example, and I recommend you do the same. First, summarize your options for identifying yourself; you will find many of them, then take your pick. It sounds easy, but I promise that many circumstances that will try to challenge you, something we will handle later in the course.

As a child, with long blond hair and blue eyes, and a decent singing voice, I was perceived as a “little angel.” As a result, I often performed singing in front of my family and a religious organization in Sweden. The reason for this was simply that my grandparents were actively Christians.

After this, I became a fantasizing dreamy child who could not even keep track of birth year and date.

Back to long hair again in the teens, but unfortunately, not as an angel. Instead, I became a little devil and constantly challenged, above all, my teachers.

I was regulated from school for a year and received training as a blacksmith. After two more years of education, I got a job as a repairman at a sawmill where I had worked every summer since the age of 15. I disliked my job!

I applied for and got a summer job at a children’s camp. I loved my job!

I was drafted into the military as a “platoon commander student.” According to many around me, a testament to my ability. But unfortunately, or somewhat better, the rebel woke up inside me again because I perceived that my military comrades thought this was a game, and as long as you did as you were told, everything would be ok.

I refused to shoot! Was offered by a psychiatrist to sign a “blank paper” or the alternative to professing as a profound religious believer to avoid military exercises. Refused!

That was the first time I seriously started to think about how we choose something that, in the long run, is a destructive alternative, even if we can understand that. It can’t be a good thing to produce guns, teach young to kill and spend enormous money on the military industry from the perspective of humans wellbeing.

With low grades in school, I had to read a few courses to be accepted for university studies. As a person, I am inquisitive, and it felt fantastic with all the input and the opportunity to explore new ways of thinking. But even if it felt amazing to have access to higher education, something was bothering me. Today, I know I identified myself as a blacksmith, not a university student.

I was not so bad at football at a young age, which opened a door for work in the social sector. As a result, I got the opportunity to start homes for immigrant children without parents in the country and also create education programs and flexible paths for youths outside the traditional system.

If we make a jump in time, I became a principal and then the education representative for the region where I lived.

Later self-employed with a small private school, together with my wife in Catalonia, and now retired with the ambition of writing about learning as the human’s most important ability; learning from the perspective of thinking and understanding.

Now let’s see, who am I?

An angel, a dreamer, a rebel, conscientious objector, entrepreneur, social worker, teacher, principal,  business owner, pensioner, writer, stubborn and obstinate, humanist, student (because I read a lot,) curious, introvert, extrovert or both? It’s easy to find many words and situations with which I can describe myself.

Normally when we meet somebody we will adapt to the situation and choose an identification that fits. If it’s a formal situation, I use to identify myself as an ex. headmaster. If I meet someone interested in a sport, I choose an ex. football player, and when I talk to someone about the renovation of my house, I use to say; “in the bottom,” I’m a blacksmith and repairman.

This is my way to make an identification of myself. But you will also be identified by everyone else you know or will meet. So sometimes the identification you do yourself will match with others and sometimes not.

For example, if I met a friend from some of the football teams I played in, we would probably identify me as an ex. football player. But when I meet someone, I have never met before, that person will identify and value me from the “knowledge” he or she has. My way of walking, talking, and how I look and then compare this with the stereotypes they know. Hopefully, you look like someone that was a nice guy.

One thing is clear you will constantly be identified in one way or another. But if the person doesn’t know you, it gives you a fantastic opportunity to identify yourself as you please, even as someone you intend to be in the future.

Isn’t it any timeline? How long do I need to write to say that I’m a writer? That is up to you! A short time can be enough to identify you for the rest of your life. If you, as an example, win the final match in the world championship in football, you have played for about 90 minutes. After these 90 minutes, you will be identified among the best in the world for the rest of your life. I know there’s a long way to the final and many obstacles along the way, but it takes only 90 minutes to be identified as one of the best forever.

But remember that no matter the time or if you’re self-identifying is positive, there will always be someone who oppositely identifies you. Don’t let that stop you!

Chameleon and stereotype

Sometimes when I stand in front of a big house, I count the windows and think about how many people can live there. The calculation often ends up in the hundreds and means that there are hundreds with unique brains and DNA; persons with their own thoughts and identification.

Thinking about this, it feels more or less like a miracle that humans have created a system for identifying that makes it possible for us to live together.

As I said before, identification is to compare. In the famous book “Surrounded by idiots” by Tomas Ericsson, (like in many other books), he compares people with colors. Red, green, yellow, and blue. But regardless of this modern variant with colors, identification in a historical perspective is connected to nature; soil, water, wind, and fire. But to compare with colors, animals and other things has the same purpose; helping us understand who we are. To make it easy for me to I will relate to this in my future reasoning.

These four types are also linked to values and emotions. It gives you heat if you think of fire, but you can also burn yourself. So, if I’m redheaded, the connection is quite simple: we see that person as fiery. Although it may seem that I am rallied, your brain will probably be content with that explanation. Over the years, red-haired women have often been associated with being fiery, hot, and sexy. Sometimes even as a being a bitch. Feeling and understanding without thinking can easily put you on the wrong path.

This is how the colors are often valued:
Red: Outgoing, strong, intense, knows what is right, leader type, problem solver, curious, competitive, strong-willed, easy to make decisions, etc.
Green: Reliable, social, friendly, kind, helpful, loyal, a good friend, easy to deal with etc.
Yellow: Verbal, open, spontaneous, sensitive, inspiring, happy, optimistic, innovative, injector, creator, positive, etc.
Blue: Logical, objective, does not buy everything that is said, careful, thoughtful, methodical, scrutinizing, follows the rules and agreements, does not slip away, etc.

Where would you place a professor, a business leader, a schoolgirl, and a consultant? Pretty simple right? It’s easy to fall into that trap.

Position yourself based on how you value the words and your feelings. By doing this, you have created a stereotype that you will try to realize.

But remember that as a human, you always have the option to consciously make yourself a chameleon and move freely between the frames. Because one thing is sure; you carry something from all the colors.

Identity creates emotions and behavior

We are emotionally affected depending on how we identify and are identified. Imagine that you are at a conference, and the conference leader starts with a fairly common exercise; identification. To make this extra fun, he will identify the participants as animals.

You answer his questions and mark that you are flexible, a social person who loves to live close to others, and fast and responsive. An honest answer that makes you feel pleased.

The conference leader explains that you are a mouse: a small rodent, fast, intelligent, and a survivor who likes to live in a group. If you don’t like mice and your friend beside you will be a lion, it is possible that you congratulate your friend and smile but do not feel so comfortable.

Now two problems also arise: One is that you will be compared to owls, tigers, lions, dolphins, and other popular animals, while we all have an inherited attitude were mice and rats are vermin that steal food and bring disease and death.

Although this is a hypothesis, one can assume that there is a risk that the group’s views on your identity may be nibbled at the edge. But the biggest problem is the risk you let your emotions fool you, and you take on a role as small and withdrawn.

As I wrote earlier, there is always the option to become a good Chameleon, but then you need to understand the values of words and behavior to choose the identity you like. For example, it is pretty easy to know that a lion is red, a dolphin probably green, an owl blue, and a mouse yellow in this context. And to make you a lion, you will probably get a better position and more talking space in the group.

Now you maybe think that is cheating. It’s not! Identification is to compare and be compared and value, and we compare and value from our own experiences. So identifying is putting pieces together to understand who other persons and yourself are, and this gives you the possibility to be who you want to be.

I said before that value and feelings are very close, and feelings can easily make you lose control and block your possibility of thinking and getting perspective. Let me give you an example :

Most of us who like sports know that Ronaldo from Portugal is one of the world’s top scorers in football. A person who will make a historic impression as a player. He is successful also economical very susses full with a salary of about 33,000,000€ per year.

So let’s state that he is both acclaimed and well paid, but he is also a human, and like you and me, his identification gets a thorn if he can’t live up to his expectation.

Let me explain. In a well-known sports magazine, we could read that Cristiano Ronaldo is unhappy with his estimated market value.

The sports magazine we talk about collects statistics on football players and teams worldwide and estimates the player’s market value. They valued Ronaldo 2020 at around 78,500,000€, far from what Ronaldo thought he was worth.

Ronaldo reacted verbally forcefully and blocked Transfermarkt!

It can probably seem selfish to protest if you are valued at about 78 million € and have a minimum buffer of about 250,000,000 € to live on in the future. But when we feel injustice, criticism, or experiences something negative for us, our emotions and inherited behavior step forward, and we go to defence, no matter who we are, consequences, or circumstances.

The only chance to deal with this is to understand how we understand; take a deep breath that gives us time to start thinking.