I see having a group identity as part of meeting one’s needs, albeit their social needs. So basically I still predict that the ease with which you can discard a particular group identity will be proportional to it’s monopoly on meeting your social needs.
And then my follow up recommendation is something like, “Find another way to meet those needs before trying to throw away the identity, both for you sanity and to increase odds of success” (though I can imagine changing my tone on that based on particular circumstances)
Is your stance something like, “Regardless of the monopoly it has on meeting your needs, you should discard the group identity as soon as you can identify it, because group identities are just that corrosive”?
Why can’t one meet the social needs by participating in groups without identifying with them?
I’m claiming that identity behaviors (verbally identifying as a member, consider your group membership important, wearing group style clothing or accessories, becoming less reasonable when your group is being criticized, etc) stem from a group having a monopoly on meeting your social needs, combined with insecurity and fear about the prospect of your needs no longer being met.
So yeah, I do think that you can get your social needs met by participating in groups without engaging in identity behavior (as you’ve suggested). I could be part of many different social circles and have lots of fulfilling relationships, and consider the stuff I do in each group important, and yet not engage much in identity behavior. I could also be a part of only one group.
I also agree that identity behavior can often be harmful. The main point I’m making is that (Fear about needs being met) → (Identity behavior), and that if you only try to manage and tamp down Identity behavior, the pressures that created that behavior will still be present.
An example of (Fear about needs being met) → (Identity behavior). You have only one friend group and it’s a bunch of young graffiti artists. Someone argues with you that graffiti is harmful for the community. You fight vehemently to defend graffiti, because deep down you know that without graffiti, your group of friends wouldn’t exist, and then you’d be alone.
If none of that jives, can you expand on what you’re thinking about identity?
Looks like we are mostly on the same page. Your example is worth looking into a bit.
Someone argues with you that graffiti is harmful for the community. You fight vehemently to defend graffiti, because deep down you know that without graffiti, your group of friends wouldn’t exist, and then you’d be alone
Right, if you identify as belonging to that group, you would feel that you have no choice but to defend it. If you were to consider the graffiti group as a place to socialize instead, then your reaction to someone attacking graffiti artists would still make you think that they are ignorant of the subculture and you would engage them without feeling endangered and getting defensive, which tends to be more productive. In this case your personal identity could be as in your description
“Be funny, act unflappable, be competent at the basic stuff”
or something similar that lets you pick and choose what groups you meet your social needs in without getting stuck in their world and having to bend your identity to fit into theirs.