How has the pandemic changed our perception of ourselves?

Oneover two years pandemic life, it seems we have changed as humans. But how? At first, many people long for a return to normal, only to realize that this may never be possible — and that can be a good thing. Although we experienced the same global crisis, it impacted everyone in wildly different ways and encouraged us to think more deeply about who we are and what we are. I’m looking for.

Isolation tested our sense of identity because it limited our access to direct social feedback. For decades, scientists have discover “the self is a social product”. We interpret the world through social observation. In 1902, Charles Cooley invented the concept of “self-seeing glasses”. It explains how we develop our identity based on how we believe others see us, but also try to influence their perception, so they see us the way we want to be seen. If we understand who we are based on social feedback, what happened to our sense of isolation?

Here are four ways the pandemic has changed the way we see ourselves.

When the lockdown started, our identities felt less stable, but we’ve adjusted back over time.

During the crisis, our concept of self was challenged. A December 2020 learn by Guido Alessandri and colleagues, published in Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Researchmeasures how Italians reacted to the first week of the March 2020 COVID-19 lockdown by assessing their level of self-concept clarity — how consistent they have a sense of self — affected their negative emotional response to the sudden lockdown.

Clarity of self-concept shows “how much you have” [clearly defined who you are] in your mind… not in the moment but in general,” explains Alessandri, a professor of psychology at Rome’s Sapienza University. While in general, people have high self-concept, those with depression or personality disorders tend to have lower levels. “The lockdown has threatened everyone’s concept of self. The results were very surprising that those who had a clearer concept of themselves [were] more responsive” and had a greater increased level of negative influence than those with lower self-concept.

In Alessandri’s research, people eventually returned to their first stage of clear self-concept, but it took longer than expected due to the shock and suffering of the pandemic. This reflects a concept known as emotional inertia, where emotional states are “resistant to change” and take a while to return to baseline. At the beginning of the pandemic, we questioned what we believed to be true about ourselves, but since then, we have adapted to this new world.

Many people are forced to accept new social roles, but the discomfort they feel depends on how important the role is to them.

Our identities are not fixed; We hold a number of different social roles in our families, workplaces, and groups of friends, which naturally change over time. But separately, many of our social roles must unintentional changefrom “parents who teach their children at home” [to] online friends and employees working from home. ”

As we adapt to a new way of life, learn published in September 2021 in PLOS One found that people experiencing involuntary social role disruption because of COVID-19 reported increasing feelings of inauthenticity — which could mean feeling disconnected from who they really are because of their current condition. It’s hard for people to suddenly change their habits and feel like they’re in the midst of a crisis.

But the study also found that “this disruption of social roles affects people’s sense of authenticity only to the extent that the role is important to you,” said co-author Jingshi (Joyce) Liu. , marketing lecturer at City University campus. of London. For example, if being a musician is central to your identity, you’re more likely to feel inauthentic when playing virtual shows on Zoom, but if your job doesn’t depend on your child your people, you may not be affected in the same way.

To feel more comfortable with their new identity, people can begin to accept their new sense of self without trying to go back to their old self.

Over the past two years, our mindset and ability to control our roles in many aspects of our lives have helped define how much impact virtual learning and remote working can have on us. “We are very sensitive to our environment,” says Liu. “[The] However, disruptions to who we are will affect how we feel about our own authenticity. “But we can do our best to accept these changes and even form a new sense of self.”[If] I have incorporated virtual teaching as part of myself, I [may not] I need to change my behavior to return to teaching in the classroom to give me a real feeling. I was simply adapting or expanding the definition of what it means to be a teacher,” she added. Similarly, if you are a therapist, you can expand your understanding of what counseling with patients looks like to include video and phone calls.

During the pandemic, many people have voluntarily changed roles, choosing to become a parent, move to a new city or country, or accept a new job. The previous research of Ibarra and Barbulescu (2010) shows that while these voluntary role changes may temporarily induce feelings of inauthenticity, they ultimately tend to lead to feelings of authenticity as people are taking steps to live authentically with yourself or start a new chapter. “Authenticity will be restored as people adapt to their new identities,” says Liu.

Our identities have changed, so it’s important to stay authentic with how we present ourselves online and offline.

We have more power than we realize to navigate a crisis by accepting that change is possible. But it is important to act in a way that is right for us. “People have a perception of who they really are… They have some idea of ​​who they really are,” says Liu. “When you give [looking glass self]I think people feel the most inauthentic when they perform to others in a way that doesn’t fit the way they are [thinking and feeling internally]“It can happen on social media.

In isolationwhen we don’t have access to the same level of social feedback as usual, social media has in some cases become a savior and a substitute for our self-presentation. The pandemic inspires people to separate from the Internet and others to increasingly depend on it for their social good. “[Our unpublished data shows] time spent on social media increases people’s feelings of inauthenticity, perhaps because social media requires a lot of display management [and] Liu said.

With all we’ve been through, many of us have fundamentally changed as people. “In the same way that the first lock asked us [self-regulate] and conforming to new social norms, the changes we are experiencing now require another self-regulation effort to understand what is happening,” said Alessandri. “We don’t expect that people will simply go back to [lives]—I don’t think this is possible. I think we have to negotiate a new kind of reality.”

The more we accept that we are no longer the same people after this crisis, the easier it will be to reconcile who we are now and who we want to be.

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