My Heritage and Individual Identity
Life elements of an individual greatly contribute in shaping the self-identity of the respective individual. Self-identity refers to how an individual perceives the ‘self’ component in him or her with connection to aspects surrounding his or her life. Some of these aspects are careers, hobbies, gender and relationships with other people. The self-identity of a person could also be determined by the perceptions of other people (Dennis 23). However, two main broad elements determine the self-identity of a person. They are the family traditions as well as the cultural legacies associated with the cultural landscape of the respective individual. These two elements have long-lasting imprints on self -identity of people. Family traditions are cultural systems that a household supports such as attitudes, beliefs, values and sentimental ideas. Family traditions are inherited and thus, are existent from one generation to the other. Either existing generations pass traditions consciously or unconsciously, the same way they inherited them from the generations that existed before them.
Cultural legacies refer to the legacies that are supposed to be passed among generations for them to be sustained to ensure that family traditions are preserved. For instance, there are tribes, which value ancestral lands and thus to preserve the value attached to it, members of the family are supposed to spend the rest of their lives on the land to ensure that it is only occupied by them. Cultural legacies are tangible, intangible or natural (Perry 67). Tangible cultural legacies include objects such as books and monuments while the intangible cultural legacies include myths and beliefs. Natural cultural legacies are landscapes other geographic features in a certain region. In simple terms, legacies are the inspirational life sources that people in a certain society live with and are happy to be associated with. They are regarded as impossible to replace and are a source of inspiration.
If the two elements; family traditions as well as cultural legacies are combined, they give the major attributes that define the self- identity of a person. It is important to note that the two factors appear in the life of an individual immediately after birth, thus having a long-lasting imprint on their personality and behavior. The imprints are usually positive or negative depending on the effects they have on an individual (Perry 178). For instance, an individual from a royal family is deemed to have traditions that move him serve in armies. Therefore, it is the reasons why children from royal families tend to engage themselves with political issues, as they have grown witnessing their fore fathers do the same. In connection with the cultural legacies of the royal families, children adhere to teachings their ancestors taught them to extend the royalty in the coming generations. Buddhists, according to the teachings they get from their culture are supposed to have self-control, social inhibition as well as emotional restraints (Giddens 98). They therefore have to inhibit these traits to adhere to their culture, thereby the cultural teachings having a great impact on their identity. Every individual is shaped by his or her cultural landscape either positively or negatively.
Some family traditions as well as some cultural legacies have negative impact on individuals. For instance, there are many households where domestic violence is rampant. Children grow up witnessing the vice and are likely to inhibit it in their families. In most cases, when proper examination is done, the root cause of the vice is attributed to the violent lifestyle that ancestors of a certain household had in regard to their marriages. The old generation thus ‘infects’ the young generation with the social disorder, making the chain live long-lasting imprints. However, the negative impacts gain more weight as they continue to be passed to the forth-coming young generations (Basham and Dennis 127). For example, a young man may grow up witnessing his father shout and abuse his mother. He is likely to be fearful to the siblings as well as to the mother. The condition may later worsen and make the young man feel unworthy and perceive himself as a source of fear. In the end, the young man will have low self-esteem and low confidence in life. Therefore, family traditions as well as cultural legacies usually have great contributions in shaping the self-identity of an individual. Self-identity may be shaped either positively or negatively depending on the appropriateness of the family traditions and legacies.
The importance of the two factors is well incorporated in my life because of the impact they have had in developing my self-identity. I come from a powerful and strong background, as my parents have had a very prosperous background. However, during the early section of their marriage, they lost some of their property to destruction, which shook their financial status. They were forced to stand on their feet and fight the approaching financial difficulties. They had to work extra hard to bring us up in comfortable lifestyles. They distributed any income they earned among all the members of the family. Through their hard work, the learnt how to value scarce resources and make use of them appropriately to maintain the welfare of the family. It is through this that I learnt to appreciate whatever life displays at my disposal. My parents taught me to work hard in life and to avoid misuse of resources at my hands. I have lived with this principle and always ready to teach it to my children.
Children who are
brought up in lavish lifestyles, which do not teach them to work hard end up
looking upon their parents even when they are adults. They could even end up
fighting for the property of their parents, which could probably the ‘only
resourceful store’ available to them. I have always used a collectivist
strategy to approach situations in my life to ensure that they do not shake my
life financially; a principle that my parents taught me. I also learnt how to view life positively and
avoid taking things lightly and for granted, which has helped me to better my
life. The history of our family is shared through verbal conversations that we
have whenever we are together. My parents play a vital role in sharing it, as
they remind us of the principles to apply in life, which they lay a foundation
with to us. To keep the family name alive, it implies that all members of the
family have to adhere to the family traditions as well as the cultural
legacies. However, for the family name
to remain alive, only the positive family traditions as well as cultural
traditions have to be maintained.
Basham, Kathryn K, and Dennis Miehls. Transforming the Legacy: Couple Therapy with Survivors of Childhood Trauma. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
Giddens, Anthony. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2001.
Perry, John. Identity, Personal Identity, and the Self. Indianapolis [u.a.: Hackett, 2002.
Dennis, Rutledge M. Biculturalism, Self Identity and Societal Transformation. Bingley [etc.: Emerald JAI, 2008.
Perry, John. Personal Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.