The Impact of External Pressures on Personal Identity

The Impact of External Pressures on Personal Identity

External pressures can significantly impact a person's sense of identity. Here are some aspects to consider:

  1. Family Expectations: Family expectations can be a powerful influence on an individual's identity. Parents, siblings, and extended family members may have specific expectations regarding education, career choices, relationships, or cultural practices. When these expectations conflict with a person's authentic desires or personal values, it can lead to an identity crisis. The pressure to fulfill family expectations while staying true to oneself can create significant emotional and psychological stress.

  2. Peer Pressure: Peers, especially during adolescence and young adulthood, can exert strong influences on identity formation. The desire to fit in, gain acceptance, or avoid social rejection can lead individuals to adopt identities that are not aligned with their true selves. Peer pressure may involve conforming to certain behaviors, attitudes, or appearance standards that may contradict an individual's genuine identity, causing feelings of confusion and conflict.

  3. Societal Norms and Standards: Societal norms and standards dictate what is considered "normal" or acceptable within a given culture or community. These norms can influence various aspects of identity, including gender roles, career paths, physical appearance, and lifestyle choices. When individuals feel pressured to conform to these norms, even if they don't resonate with their authentic selves, it can create an identity crisis and a sense of dissonance between who they truly are and who they are expected to be.

  4. Cultural and Ethnic Identity Pressures: People from diverse cultural or ethnic backgrounds may experience external pressures related to their cultural identity. They may face expectations to adhere strictly to traditional customs, values, or practices, which may clash with their personal preferences or aspirations. Struggling to balance the preservation of cultural identity with the desire for individual autonomy and self-expression can lead to an identity crisis.

  5. Career and Professional Identity: Society often places great emphasis on career success and professional achievements. External pressures related to career choices, job expectations, and societal definitions of success can shape an individual's professional identity. When individuals feel compelled to pursue careers that don't align with their interests, passions, or values, it can lead to a sense of identity confusion and dissatisfaction.

  6. Media and Advertising Influences: Media, advertising, and social media platforms can exert considerable pressure on individuals' identity. Idealized portrayals, beauty standards, success stories, and materialistic values promoted by the media can create unrealistic expectations and benchmarks. The constant exposure to these influences can make individuals question their self-worth and identity if they do not meet these societal standards.

It's important for individuals to recognize and differentiate external pressures from their own genuine desires and values. Self-reflection, introspection, and seeking support from trusted individuals or professionals can help navigate these external pressures and establish a more authentic sense of identity.


Who I Am by Sean Slagle

Who I Am: Reflections From Ephesians 1 and 2 by Sean Slagle looks at what these chapters say about who we are in God's eyes.

Too often we are beat down by how others see us, and perhaps even more strongly and damaging is how we see ourselves. When we see ourselves as God sees us, a whole new image is formed, an image that can only be created through Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit.

These short reflections will help you see yourself for who you are in Christ.

You are blessed, chosen, holy and blameless, adopted, loved, given grace, redeemed, forgiven, lavished on, knowledgeable, predestined, included in Christ, marked with a seal, called to hope, powerful, valued, alive, raised up, God’s handiwork, brought near, a fellow citizen, a member of God’s household, and a dwelling.

You can learn more about the author at