Social Identity: How does it influence when, why & how we use power?
Being conscious about our social identity helps explain when, how and why we use power, and how we identify ourselves in groups, and in the world. Sometimes we consciously and deliberately play out a part of our social identify when we participate in rituals or traditions that have been part of our family and community for generations.
However, some rituals and traditions are subtle, even unconscious. For instance, lifestyle choices that influence our relationship to work, money, intimacy, bodies, health and more.
We inherit habits and traditions, behaviours and attitudes, without much conscious thought about how we relate to institutions, money, work or relationships.
Whether we consciously or unconsciously adopt these shared beliefs, values and traditions, they impact how we move through the world, as well as how others view and respond to us. And our social identity can be a source of both support and repression, which might not be visible or known to us. Becoming conscious of our social identity offers a clearer picture of what influences have contributed to where we are today and how that plays out in everyday life.
One of the most overlooked areas of personal development is our relationship with power – it’s an extremely complex concept.
The first step to understanding our relationship with power is to get clear on our social identity and the impact it has on our life. When you think of who you are, where you came from and your most important influences making you who you are today, are you aware of hidden history – social, familial and cultural factors that play a role in who you are and how you live – at home, in your community and at work?
Getting clear on your social identity and how it impacts your participation in groups:
In a journal describe a dynamic you struggle with in groups. As you go through the list of questions below, make notes on connections you see between the struggles you have as a group member, your strength as a leader, and aspects of your social identity.
- What do you know about where your parents, grandparents and other significant family members came from?
- Where were you born, where did you grow up and where have you lived?
- Is there any significance in your given or last name, its meaning or history within your family?
- Has your family name changed and if so, why?
- What social class were you raised in? Even though it may have shifted, the class you were born into still impacts your identity.
- What other social identities are important to you: gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, education, physical/mental abilities, etc.?
- Think about factors that may not be immediately visible or apparent but have altered your world view of yourself and others: ancestors, family connectedness, immigration, birth order, siblings’ stories and issues, mental illness, near-death experiences, illnesses.
In our Building Conscious Use of Power Program, part of what we explore is the impact of your social identity and how it has influenced your choices in life, particularly as it affects your personal and work relationships.
Register now October 21 - 25, 2013 and join us to develop more of your personal Conscious Use of Power.